In Dhofar, Southern Oman, after finding the African lime butterfly on the scarp slopes, we pushed on to revisit the remote Jebel Samham mountain.
As we drove off, a little Crested lark eyed us curiously…
Jebel Samhan (2100m) is the mountain that towers over the eastern portion of the Salalah Plain.
It is a plateau, rather than a peak and beyond the Jebel the whole area is full of sinkholes and limestone caves. This is a vast wilderness sanctuary (4,500 kilometres), with no permanent population and a protected home to the critically endangered Arabian Leopard, which during a past visit, I had the surreal experience of stumbling across one, face to face, in the middle of the night…check this link for that strange moment, I’m still in wonder about that night…
The road to Jebel Samhan climbs up and over the barren plateau and passes through rocky fields of leafless desert roses.
Adenium obesum, the desert rose, also known as elephant plants, have huge bulbous trunks and striking pink flowers and their strange appearance adds to the other-worldly feel of the plateau.
You are able to drive to a viewpoint on the edge of the reserve to gaze over the coastal plain and surrounding wadis.
On arriving we were alone in this remote place. There is a small path, with barriers to a certain point, the drop is sheer and I didn’t go to the certain point, my head for heights has gone with my youth.
The views are magnificent…
Suddenly we heard voices and were surrounded by tourists. Unexpected, and overwhelmed on this narrow path with teetering drops, we headed back to the car to be greeted by a long row of 4-wheel drives and their drivers, taking a rest.
Our invading tourists were on a tour, time to speed off and hope we didn’t bump into them again..
Passing through a small village, which I ( obviously) renamed One-Cow town.
We headed back down off the plateau to the coast. As we turned a corner, we screeched to a stop.
In front of me, a Dhofar Chameleon was just starting to make it’s pausing, balletic walk across a very large road.
Time to make sure it made it across. Luckily it started to run as I got out of the car, then spent a few minutes on the other side of the road contemplating this large human with a camera, Lucky me! I love to see a chameleon and also watch them change colour to match their surroundings and mood. If they start to turn black, they are stressed, this one just blended it with all the different backgrounds.
My saved-from-the road Chameleon posed perfectly for me, but then it decided it head back across the lethal road.
I had to save it, stop it somehow, so I leant in to enfold it within in my hand so I could move it away from the terror of the road corner, but it didn’t really like my saviour role.
It bit me very hard, tore into my skin, and I couldn’t get it off my hand and it started to bite my hand deeply, the OH had to prise it away, it had its teeth in deeply and ripped off a load of skin…lesson to self…Do not pick up a chameleon, however nature-kind you are…
As we were travelling remotely, had health insurance, but limited resources in that area and little availability for health care , I did a quick google on Chameleon bites when we got back to the room. Luckily a disinfectant wash seemed to be all that was required, they do not seem to carry bacteria…. Anyhow, I’m here to tell the tale, with no missing digits!