A pre-dawn wake up at Kharfat. Catching shots of fishing boats out on the water as the glow of the sunrise built up.
Another camel herder headed down to our site to check us out.
Sitting silently on a rock, watching as we packed up, stuffing sheets and blankets into the designated bag , he finally showed some emotion, applauding as we packed well.
Asking the cost of our camping gas burner, I wanted to gift it to him, but the OH sensibly pointed out it would be wasted, he could never refill it by buying spare cylinders in this remote place. We gifted bottled water and biscuits instead.
We moved on, catching some shots in the early morning of herons in a Khor ( small freshwater lake)
and then, before heading back up the collapsing road and seeing an unusual sight which triggered ” Let’s just go down there ” we caught some incredible moments with a 3-hour old newborn camel, and we were welcomed in by the Omani owner to share the first hours of this gangly camel child…
Onwards to Shaat, another village teetering on an impossible headland.
Heading to the local sinkhole, designated a tourist site there wasn’t much to see in the dark depths, but some interesting flowers and seed pods along the pathway, quite a long walk, but some beautiful butterflies darting around, too fast to be anything other than a blur in my photographs.
Along and up to the viewpoint over the sea. Well, on approaching the edge, the OH gave an underhand warning. “Vicky, you may want to stop over there, yes, right there and hold on tight…It’s a very long drop”.
I don’t do straight-down-long-drop heights too well, especially on a rather old walkway.
Oh yes, he was so right, I leaned over and, have you ever had the moment where your toes clench into a rictus as a reaction to the vertigo slam that has just hit you?
Strangely, you nervously peer over this long straight down the vista and imagine throwing yourself over, a kind of mental will you have to tackle, even though you are scared to death, or is that just me? Am I psychologically, inherently inclined to want to cast myself over impossible drops? No, no….
Staggering shakily back to the car, I knew the ex-rally man wanted to burn down the 18km track from this 1000 metre top to the bottom, via a dirt track with impossible depths beyond the edge.
Always the gentleman, he suggested if I didn’t want to do it, it was just fine, but, if we did,” Just think how proud you would be that you did.”
Always one to rise to a challenge, my answer was to go for it, so we did.
I trust his driving, it was a huge trust on this unknown road and I had my foot on an imaginary brake with a lot of verbal input from myself..oooh, left, oooh, right, careful, slow down, OMG , plus many words not appropriate for WordPress.
After all the drama, as we reached the final hairpin, hanging out over the sheer slope to a turquoise sea and killer rocks if we misjudged, we came across a large orange rubbish van chugging up towards us. What! A death-defying drive and this truck had done it too! All my drama verbals insinuating we are the only fools in the world heading down this killer road and there’s a rubbish truck coming up death road! Hmm, as you can imagine, I congratulated the OH for a wonderful drive, silently curling my toes with shame!
I think they were extremely surprised to see us.
The beach was empty ( are you surprised?) full of pebbles, impossibly turquoise and not a shell in sight. A small Khor behind led to a dark, wet cave leading under the tons of mountain we had just traversed. I declined that thrill, happy just to record on film the entrance to the underworld.
After a reverse trip, albeit uphill, where I was much more in control of my nerves, we pushed on over the bleak but beautifully wild tarmac road that heads up and over the escarpment. Little traffic along this marvel of engineering in a wild place. The road construction is awesome to take you off the plateau and slowly down to Salalah.
Salalah is the birthplace of the Sultan of Oman, the second city of Oman and has a vibe all of its own in comparison to the rest of Oman, but on this journey, we were intent on pushing through the city to head on out to Mirbat, 70 km’s beyond the city.
Booking into the Marriot at Mirbat, there is nowhere else to stay here unless under canvas, but here we find so many minuscule shells,we have to spend a long time searching at the low tides. It makes the hotel a necessity and a luxurious change from canvas.
This time around, a super low tide, time for me head out into the bay snorkeling, always a bit of an unknown. What you see from above is never the same your underwater vision. OH chose to pick along the shoreline, the reasons for that may become apparent in 2017.
On one head-lift to clear the mask I spotted him watching me.
He called across ” Have you seen any BIG fish? ”
No, I shouted, “But the small ones are incredible” and went into ecstatic descriptions about the Arabian fish I was seeing… Triggers, damsels, shoals of neon-colored fish, anemones, kelp, etc. Thumbs up I headed on, mask down, reveling in the underwater world.
Finally heading out, we connected onshore.”Why were you looking at me each time I surfaced?
“Well I saw a FIN, so I was tracking you” he told me. You always do a head shake at that sort of news.
Umm, what ..”a FIN, like..a SHARK fin??”?
“Yeah, well, not sure, don’t worry , I was watching you all the time, but there was a fin out there whilst you were snorkeling, which is why I asked whether you saw a big fish… But don’t worry , it was a small fin and I was a few paces away watching all the time”. Whoaa…
But undeterred, as you just have to go back on in, I went back out at dawn the following morning, more alert in the beautiful underwater world, a tad more cautious, thankfully no fins in my vicinity!
Time to move on from the Marriot, head off to our next night camping on the Dhofar coastline, more wilderness to come…
Click here for A very interesting link on Ecology and terrain in Dhofar