I started off the week trying to decide which direction to drive this weekend for my day trip, and although you're restricted to going inland (rather than driving into the sea), there are SO many options! I'd been told about the secluded camping spots of Yiti and the lush beaches of As Sifah to the south east of Muscat, so my decision was made.
After taking a diversion through Muttrah and Old Muscat to visit the Bayt al-Zubair museum (good for antique Omani military wares), I darted along the coastal road. Yiti is a small fishing village nestled between two steep valley sides and culminates in a wide bay. “Man” has unfortunately filled the bay with landfill to create good fishing opportunities and land defences for the village, but it still retains the dainty feeling it probably used to emanate.
As the bay opens, a rock outcrop sits square and proud in the middle of the bay, like the back of a Stegosaur jutting up from the mud flats. It's the first time I've really seen substantial wildlife since being here – mud waders, herons, little fish, flying fish (yep; throwing themselves out the water like salmon up a stream) and hundreds, no, thousands of crabs in the mud. They were incredible. Tiny little things the size of a penny piece with one white, prominent claw the size of the rest of their bodies. Seems that they used the larger claw to perform a… mating dance of sorts. Think they liked me!
After some lunch overlooking the sea arch of Bandar Jissah (sorry, no piccy, so you can probably surmise that it wasn't the best view!), I went a bit off road back down the valley with lush date palms and the mandatory wandering donkey. Further south along the coast is a little rocky creek, known as a khor, which had a derelict dhow sitting sadly on the sands. Holes in the hull, rusty motor housed below deck, and only the remains of the cabin at the head of the boat. It had a quiet beauty about it, just like the rest of the khor. Oh, and the were more of those horny crabs I encountered earlier!
The rest of the drive to As Sifah covered bays of black mangrove trees, to rocky climbs over sandy cliffs – quite a change for a short journey. As Sifah sits at the end of a long road, and is trapped against the coastline by the tailing end of the Eastern Hajar Mountains, making it a beautiful stretch of beaches with a mountain backdrop. The guide book said there were incredible camping spots to be found further east along the coast of As Sifah, but it now looks like developments are taking over this area as well and new holiday villas are half erected. Lovely as the villas look, it's a shame the once desolate sandy beaches have now been dominated by the effects of tourism.
I headed back to Muscat via Wadi Mayh. A nice diversion from the twisty road back through the mountains, but not as interesting as some of the other wadis I've been to recently. Nice to take the car for a spin off-road again though! It also struck me this weekend that, given the chance, Omani men will set up a football pitch anywhere! Doesn't have to be turfed (in fact, they never are), they just need a flat area and a set of goals – job done. Come sunset, football pitches up and down the country will be awash with Omani men striving to be like Ronaldo.