With the purchase of a nice shiny new four-wheel-drive a few weeks ago, it was decided that the time to scratch it and to dent it had finally come (1,400 kms on the clock) - Alas such as the fate of four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Eid holiday this year did not seem as generous as they have been in the past, when holidays of up to 10 days were not that uncommon. However a four day break which was not going to cost me any leave is always very welcome.
Not having gone camping for several years I have to say we were a little bit rusty in our preparation and packing-but the vehicle was quickly loaded and we set off with goodtime.
I'm sure most people who go camping have a "special" site - for me this is ....... , actually I can't tell you because it is my secret campsite, but let's say it is several hours south of Muscat. I have been using this campsite for the last 7 years, it is wonderfully secluded, has great views and most importantly nobody else goes there.
After a few hours on the blacktop (tarmac) we then had a gentle 25 km off-road to the campsite, however the time was now about 30 minutes before sunset-it is a difficult time to drive normally, more so however off-road.
The last three years have not been kind to the roads in this area, and we soon started having to skirt washed out access roads. At times some of the locals had made a small path is around them; when we could see none I just created our own.
All was going well until we got within 1 km of the final campsite, then at least 40 m of the road was missing, with a significant drop Down into a very rough wadi bed.
Campsite near Secret campsite
With failing light and the desire not to pull one of the wheels off the car, I sensibly turned around and found an alternative place to camp. It was not as grand, Secret, well known or as secure - but it was the best we could do at the time.
We quickly unpacked and assembled our tent and I'm now spitting out sand. The slightly unorthodox use of two surfboards cut down the amount of swirling sand to manageable levels. After suitable food and refreshments we sat back to listen to the sound of the desert - absolute silence.
A rather last-minute purchase in the form of a new camping mat had transformed what can be uncomfortable night, into a pleasant relaxed nights sleep. I promised Juliet I would buy her one next time (joking she already has one); but a rising sun will always awaken the camper, and at 0600 we were treated to a sunrise through cloud and some local mist.
In order to get going quickly we packed up and returned to a Pakistani truck restaurant close to the main road we had spotted the night before. The dahl and omelette were both excellent and the price of three dollars fitted our budget also.
Our normal camping area in the Mahout region has become rather less unique over the years, due to better roads and more development closer to Muscat. So today we were going to try and find another new camping area.
About an hour later we were parked on top of what will be possibly the best site for house we have ever seen. Perched about 100 m above the sea with at least 180° views this will make a spectacular property.
Rather thrilled with our initial discovery, we pressed on to try and find a new secluded beach.
We did not just find one beach we found about 15 km of secluded beach, however of course there was a slight catch.
The beaches here are extremely soft when it comes to driving on-And being on our own I cannot take the risk of getting stuck. I was however able to find some hard sand and make our way to another set of beaches. By using some hard sand and some careful driving we were able to find campsite less than 7 m from the waters-edge.
There was a significant surf pounding in out to sea-but rather ominously there seem to be a large number of rocks.
As the high tide fell the number of rocks multiplied, Leaving a small lagoon which seem to be continually occupied by wading birds and several small turtles.
We did manage to get into the sea and to find some sandbanks from which we played in the waves - the refreshing chill of the sea was very pleasant after the heat of the land.
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