Best day of the year; woke up in a luxury camping hotel, the sun had already started to warm the side of the mountain, fantastic breakfast with family, more off-road tracks to be explored, no work today, oh yeah, and I'd turned the grand old age of 30 this morning! This is the first time in my life that I've not woken up to a dreary November morning in the UK, chills in the air, drizzle and wind. You name it, I'd had it on my birthday. Not this year my friend!
We sat and had breakfast overlooking the valley with the small town of Hamra down below, before packing the car and setting off for the ancient beehive tombs of Al-Ayn. The tombs are over 5,000 years old(!), dating back to the 3rd millennium B.C. That makes them the same age, or older, than the Great Pyramid of Giza! Even though the pyramids are much more impressive in terms of scale, they certainly don't match the backdrop that the beehive tombs have against Jebel Misht – a majestic mountain ridge, gloriously bathed in sunshine for most of the day, and with 1,000m sheer cliff sides.
Wandering around the tombs, we saw that they are made of an inner sanctum with doorway and an outer shell. Presumably, the inner section was erected and the bodies placed inside, before the outer shell was constructed around it to seal it off from the outside world. Incredible that they are mostly intact to this day.
After a good hunt around the tombs, we carried on down the valley towards Wadi Damm, where an amazing walk awaited us. Although not overly long, the walk down the wadi took us along the foot of an overhanging cliff face, protecting the stream at the bottom of the wadi from the midday heat. After crossing the stream several times, we ended up at the source of the wadi, tucked underneath a rock, forming quite a deep, wide cave system. We hunched over and flicked on the torch to be greeted by frequent bats flying past our ears. The tunnel lead deep into the rock and much further than I was willing to explore with the bats in there, so we settled on the satisfaction of finding the source of the spring and found a beautiful small pool to swim in.
Turns out, without the midday sun, the spring water is pretty cold! I suppose it had come straight from underneath the rocks. Didn't stop us though – we had a brief “refreshing” swim under a mossy ledge and jumped out to recover in the warm air. We were the only people in the wadi that day and hadn't come across anyone else – absolute bliss. Now the only thing that faced us, was the long drive back to Muscat, of which, I was the only one to stay awake!