Given that I’ve been in country for a couple of weeks (almost), I figured that it was time I travelled somewhere other than work or the supermarket. All plans went awry when I didn’t wake up until 10am! Ho-hum. But I was still determined to get out of the city for just a couple of hours, so spread the map on my table and found a little route across the mountains, into Al Amarat and circling back into Ruwi on the east of Muscat.
The route out of Muscat is a terminally steep dual carriageway, snaking back and forth through cut outs in the mountain side and giving an amazing view back over the city and the Gulf of Oman. I didn’t dare take my eyes off the road for too long as a false move would have plunged me into the pretty sturdy concrete in between my car and the bottom of the cliff. That might be a bit over-dramatic!
As the car pulled and heaved over the summit of the mountain range, the view of Al Amarat, a village south of Muscat, and the plain that it sits in filled my vision. It was quite an amazing view across the rocky, dusty flat plain wedged amid two mountain ranges with random buildings sparsely populating the landscape. With nothing else to do and a grin slowly emerging across my face… I went off-road.
Seems that only main trade/commuting routes between towns (and in towns) are tarmac in Oman and anything else is a dirt track. Keeping that in mind, I wasn’t surprised that the turn off from the highway instantly turned into a dirt road, tracing the edge of the mountains. It’s only when you get down to that level that you realise those small rocky outcrops across the plain are actually quite big and dominate the landscape! I followed the track for a couple of miles, before spotting a dust devil across the plain – unfortunately it had dissipated before I had my camera ready (lesson: have camera ready). Quite a cool little phenomenon sweeping across the land like a tame tornado.
Al Amarat was quiet a big village, with some good tracks up the next mountain range, but nothing particularly to note. I’ll leave those tracks for another time. The main highlight was my first taste of off-road Oman.
Location: 23.5270108N, 58.4545663E