There’s no escaping the highway when we leave the comfort of our air-conditioned hotel near Muscat Airport. Since we’re still getting to know this Muslim country, we are dressed appropriately with long sleeves and shorts that cover our knees. But it’s so crazy hot, my odomoter reads 44 degrees Celsius and seeing tourists and even Omani men in shorts we ditch the warm clothes. But thank Allah we’re riding on the highway for the first 40 something kilometers! We manage to ride from one gas station to the next, where we can buy cold drinks and sit in the shadow. My head is a red tomatoe and looks like it’s about to explode! We slowly ascend and after Bidbid we leave the highway for a more quiet road. At a mosque in a small town we stock up on cool water (for free!) and find a place to camp a couple of hunderd meters away from the road. I always find the first wild camping night in a new country a bit scary, but here in Oman it feels safe.
We wanted to avoid the coastal highway and went straight for the mountains. Riding with this heat is tough business and we cycle from waterpoint to waterpoint. We use the cold water taps by the side of the road to cool our heads and refill our bottles. Everywhere in this country these blue trucks with water are providing homes and mosques with fresh drinking water and we are so thankful for that!
The road through Wadi Khabbah is being paved at the moment, apart from one section and that’s the only time in Oman where we actually cross a flowing water source!
The next morning we want to beat the heat when we cross the Eastern Hajar Mountains and at 4:30 our alarm clock wakes us. But, unfortunately we both suffer from a cold and we don’t feel strong enough to cross the Eastern Hajar mountains at this point. We change the route we planned and head for the Wahibah Sands (Sharqiya Sands) instead. Later this trip we need to ride the 45 kilometers to Ibra a second time, but that turns out to be a peace of cake!
Even though we ride with 27.5 inch rims and 62mm tires, the sands are a no go for us and our bikes and we arrange a driver to bring us to a desert camp where we will stay in a tent, visit the dunes and watch a million stars. Amar picks us up and drives like a maniac, speed bumps don’t seem to apply to him.. He’s a man of few words, all he says is: ‘crazy driver, uh?!’. I guess he knows himself well…
That evening we walk through the deep sand of the red-colored dunes to watch the sunset. It’s a steep uphill climb, but the sand is nice and warm and the views are amazing. There are very few other tourists and we can enjoy the empty quarter just by ourselves. It’s beautiful as the sun turns the color of the dunes into a darker red one.
Unfortunately there is so much dust in the sky, that it’s impossible to see the Milky Way… We do get to see a lot of stars though and when it’s really dark we both walk up the dunes again to enjoy the night.
The next morning Amar will pick us up again, but not before we take a camel ride! It’s just one of those bucket list thingies and we are here now, so why not? Well, I tell you why not… It’s super uncomfortable! We wanted to ride about half an hour, but after 5 minutes we both think: “ok, been there, done that! Now, get me off this wobbly thing!” Getting on and off a camel is a not so charming business I tell you… there seems to be a video… but luckily I’m in charge of the editing! 😉