Oman, Mussendam and Al Khasab

Abu Dhabi Travel Blog

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Building in the dunes
The trip from Abu Dhabi to Oman was a birthday present from April to me and we set off late morning. Abu Dhabi to Al Khamir in Oman is a 5 hour drive. Driving north, the desert sands alongside the motorway are orange peach coloured. Groups of camels stroll, grazing on the rare green desert plants. It has just rained heavily for a couple of hours and once dormant seeds have burst into lush plants. The camels are making the most of this unxepcted feast. Within metres of our car, goats of every colour; rust, caramel, chocolate, whites and creams stare as we pass.

At Ras Al Khamir we stop at a supermarket for fresh fruit and dates then go on to the border.
Ras Al Khamir view of Oman mountains and acacia trees
There are two stops at the border, one to leave Abu Dhabi and the other to enter Oman. Meticulous care is taken in examining our papers and passports. We pay a few dirhams to leave Abu Dhabi and quite a few more to enter Oman. The border controllers are obviously keen to know exactly who is entering this country. 40 minutes later, and we are through. I am immediately stuck by the stark mountainous barren terrain bordered by the sea. Tankers move slowly across the horizon of the Straits of  Hormuz which link or separate the UAE from Iran, depending on your interests. Huge rocks have crashed down onto the  road. Occassionally we are passed by wildly speeding SUV's. The stark beauty of this country is apparent.

We pass villages, goats and very few people, and arrive at our hotel in Al Khasab.
Road to Oman
Our hotel is set on the rocks beside the sea. Our airey room opens out to a courtyard of artificial grass, the pool, a railing then the sea. We drive down to the Al Khasab town which is still asleep from the afternoon siesta. We see a fishing dhow pull up with their catch of the day. Several men greet us and ask where we are from. We meet a tunisian chef and a dredge driver from Thailand. The village coffee shops look attractive and have yet to open for the evening. We visit the fort, and drive around the unsealed streets to an alley way, children stare at us and wave. We wave back and say hello. Every dwelling has a date palm and the simplicity of life and diet is apparent. Its wonderful being here with someone who loves this country and has been here before, who knows the culture and the customs and who is confident to drive these precarious roads.


We stop at a tea house by the wharf set in a gravel carpark. Sitting out side on rusty chairs and table  we order babganoush, humous, pita bread and mint tea. This simple experience is fantastic; the stark environment, being with my best friend, and the delicious food and refreshing drink is completely memorable. Our Algerian waiter speaks some english and is very interested in visiting Canada where April is from. Early next morning, we head to the waterfront again and to our dhow. We are off for a day in the fiords of Oman. Our dhow is covered in carpets and cushions and we settle in with our fellow travellors; a recently married emeriates couple, some english expats with two generations of children; a french couple with their two children and our crew of two.

We travel into the fiords.
Me and April, two old friends, in the fiords of Oman
Fishing villages are set along the shore; tiny flat roofed houses, fishing boats and a date palm or two. Behind the villages soar the bare grey mountains. Here and there is a prickly acacia tree and goats. The stark beauty and simplicity is rivetting. Dolphins appear beside our dhow. They slip above the water, and shoot along the surface, dive under the front of the dhow, and slide in unison in two's threes, fives and eights just under the surface! And then disappear. I am thrilled. How magical to see these sights.

The dhow crew let us know we have been lucky to have so much attention from the dolphins. We know this is true. We pull up and anchor by a 
tiny island with carved steps hundreds of years old. The brave ones dive into the water and swim with the thousands of coloured fish. I am content to be in the warm sun, sketching and looking down on the fish with their stripes, spots and vibrant colours. We snack on refreshing bananas and cold water. This is the best birthday present ever.



vances says:
The ruins there are the remains of a fort built by the British in the 1860's to guard an underwater span of their telegraph line to India. The soldiers stationed there routinely went crazy (as you can well imagine), and the term derives from going around all the bends to arrive there!

Yes, Musandam is a wonderfully beautiful place!
Posted on: May 27, 2009
dianajnz says:
Isn't it a fantastic to place visit. do you know the circumstances of 'going round the bend?'
Posted on: May 27, 2009
vances says:
The island you stopped at in Musandam was Telegraph Island...where the term "going round the bend" derived from!

:^)
Posted on: May 27, 2009
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Building in the dunes
Building in the dunes
Ras Al Khamir view of Oman mountai…
Ras Al Khamir view of Oman mounta…
Road to Oman
Road to Oman
Me and April, two old friends, in …
Me and April, two old friends, in…
Goats on the way to Oman
Goats on the way to Oman
The stark beauty of Oman
The stark beauty of Oman
View from our hotel
View from our hotel
me in al Khasab
me in al Khasab
The fishing dhows
The fishing dhows
Unloading the catch from the day
Unloading the catch from the day
al Khasab town
al Khasab town
Gates in Al Khasab
Gates in Al Khasab
Early morning
Early morning
Smugglers head for Iran
Smugglers head for Iran
early morning
early morning
the pool to myself
the pool to myself
Heading in to the fiords
Heading in to the fiords
Fiords of the Mussendam
Fiords of the Mussendam
Dolphin having a look at the visit…
Dolphin having a look at the visi…
dolphins
dolphins
Heading back
Heading back
Fishing village in the fiords
Fishing village in the fiords
The road back to the Ras Al Khamir…
The road back to the Ras Al Khami…
Abu Dhabi
photo by: JP-NED