Oman

Just got back from a quick explore of the mountains southwest of Muscat – the Hajjar range. I drove the little Ford Escape down and spent two days there, poking round various tracks through the hills and trying the Ford out offroad.

The border crossing between the UAE and Oman proved very straightforward and amiable. With an Emirates-registered car I showed my British passport (with residency permit) and car licence card and paid a small fee for the Omani entry stamp, plus Omani insurance for the car – around £30. Its a huge relief every time I encounter pleasant, polite UAE (and now Omani) bureaucracy after Egypt!

Drove down to the Hajjar range near Muscat – a five hour drive. Oman has invested in a major new highway building project and this means that you can easily sit at 120kmh (the legal maximum) for an hour plus without worrying about roundabouts etc.

Spent two days exploring wadis tucked away in the hills – quite a lot of water and greenery and evidence of very severe flash floods. Oman gets the tail end of the monsoon and you can see how the waters swirl down these wadis. I found several small oases, many with villages attached and all very picturesque.

The Ford was fine on rough tracks but actual ‘offroading’ is not what she is built for – no difflock meant that when I took her onto a river bed of smooth weathered boulders she slipped and scrabbled and lost traction. Lack of ground clearance was also a big problem, and I had to turn back from several tracks that a Land Rover wouldn’t even have noticed but with which the Ford just couldn’t cope. Nevertheless she is a fast and comfy road and trail car, if a little thirsty – but with a 3 litre V6 that’s no surprise.

Hugely taken with Oman – definitely going back soon!

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