Getting going was easier said than done.
Post car purchase,we discovered the tyre adaptor key for lowering the spare wheel wasn’t included in the tool kit. Bit of a worry with a 12k plus round trip ahead and trying to find one wasn’t proving easy.
Lexus had none in the UAE and it was a 3 month delivery for an order so that wasn’t going to work for us on this trip and everywhere else we called didn’t have one in stock…so we bought two spare tyres to carry with us.
Slightly awkward with the spare tyres stacked in the back of the car but, best be safe than sorry. As we had to go back to the car souk to collect the insurance cover, we thought we’d mention the tyre key was missing.
So, car packed it was time to start moving. Heading to the Emirates Road, the OH was fiddling with the GPS unit which wasn’t picking up satellites and therefore, annoyingly, wasn’t working and the trip ahead is a biggie…the route is to Fujairah on the East coast of UAE, cross into Oman at Hatta, down to Masirah island, then to Mirbat in Dhofar, Salalah then along the coast to the Yemen border, then back up through Oman to the Saudi border, cross into Saudi and drive via Abha to Jizan, take the ferry to the Farasan islands in the Red sea for a couple of days then return through the mountains to Taif, then visit a dormant volcano site and return via Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
A GPS unit is crucial for this trip, so a snap decision was made to replace it, but this meant a return trip to the Creek…..aagh, traffic, delay…what to do!
New GPS installed we headed off to the Car souk, where once the tyre tool predicament was explained , the boys headed off to look at their other cars for sale tool kits in case ours had been misplaced.That story will never be known but we left with the correct tyre tool and a saving of approx 200euro as that’s what this piece of metal costs to buy!!!
The reason for the Fujairah diversion to the journey was to collect Grayana cowrie DNA for scientific research for a project that the Smithsonian institute is carrying out in the Middke East… we had missed low tide from our delays but luckily found enough Cowries to take samples so then it was time to cross the border into Oman at Hatta.
Our route was Hatta, Sinaw, Mahout, Shannah…a long drive and sunset happened just after Hatta, so it was a long night drive…a little stop at the new Lulu supermarket in Sinaw for some fruit and a Tandoori takeaway…and a loo with a seat, not always available in the hinterlands of Oman and my new teflon hips are not yet adjusted to super squat mode, so that was a welcome supermarket stop in other ways!
Then the long haul night drive…. we always start off well, chirpy, chatty, music in the background, but after long hours of peering into the dark distance, trying to spot errant camels and blinded by big trucks, tiredness sets in…
Hitting Mahout we had 45 minutes to the camp site and Shannah port but as we came out of town and hit the Sabhka flats ( salt flats subject to tides), so quite dangerous in the dark if you drifted off the road, we hit intense humidity fog. I’ve never seen anything like it, we were completely blind driving using the GPs to stay within the road parameters, very unnerving and the OH was doing a driving/sleeping mode and so a mutual decision was made to pull off the road at the Comms tower as we knew it was high ground and not Sabkha…you cannot pull off the side of the road in Sabhka area, you may not get the car out again!
After an hour the peasouper fog cleared, the OH had had enough sleep to start the drive and we got to Shannah port at 3 am, we slept in the car, putting the tent up at 3 am is tense stuff, easier to crash in the car…
Car sleeping means you invariably wake with the dawn and as it’s really uncomfortable, you are happy to get up as the sun rises…so we headed off out onto the sandbanks to see what was around at sunrise…
Having had a successful day out on the low tide sandbanks,we decided to take the last ferry of the day across to Masirah and camp there to avoid waking at 4am to get the first local ferry at sunrise and could we could camp on Masirah without pressure to have another early start…
Trip route- Dubai to Fujairah, cross the Oman border at Hatta then to Sinaw and Shannah.