I am developing quite a soft spot for Oman. It’s hugely varied in terms of landscape, climate and culture, and it’s easy to access if you have a decent 4×4. Having recently sorted Bumblebee to the extent that all the ropey bits of her maintained structure (for example UJs, bearings, hoses) have been replaced with new kit of decent manufacture, I’m now at the happy stage where I trust her for long trips – and – almost – for unsupported solo-vehicle desert work.
So we went to Oman last week for 4 days. Cruising at 90kmh is a bit easier on the fuel economy of the big v8 so rather than the 10mpg she returns here in town, she brought in about 16-17 mpg – much more tolerable (“economical” is the wrong word). Crossing over at the Khatmat Maleha border post from Sharjah was reasonably straightforward and then it was a straight 4 hour drive to Muscat, the capital.
Muscat is a smallish city built in a long valley that runs parallel to the coast. Mutrah, the heart of the place, was my base for the first night and then the next day I headed into town to explore the Soukh. It’s an interesting market, and caters mainly to the hordes of cruise liner tourists that voraciously sweep through the place every once in a while and then, locust-like, vanish again. Little of the kit for sale there is from Oman and indeed much of it is from India and Nepal. Mind you I did find some stuff that is native to Oman, not least of which some samples of three grades of frankincense, which is heading home soon with me for Christmas back in frosty Yorkshire. Compared to Cairo or Marrakech or Amman the soukh is plastic and touristy – but I’m sure the cruise liner brigade love it.
The Entrance to the soukh
The significant junction in the soukh of Mutrah
After a quiet trundle through the Old Town (much renovated) I pointed Bumblebee south into the coastal mountains and found a deserted beach to settle on. It’s been a crazy few weeks here and I was needing time to just stop and chill. the beach at Al Sifa provided this, and having just bought a roof tent from Welsh friend and Dubai resident Geraint Jones I was in a position to enjoy it.
So – tent up, fire lit, wine open – and the moon rose over the Indian Ocean. It doesn’t get much better.
It was an idyllic spot. There was a farm a little distance away but nobody else about and I made sure Bumblebee was parked above the high tide line so there’d be no awkward rushing about at 3am with water lapping round the axles! I’d brought some food and firewood, so didn’t need to move for two days. Needless to say sleep came fast, and the morning was equally lovely;
This is typical Oman – sublime. The roof tent is an Epic Adventure Equipment one from Dubai and it’s a little cramped compared to my usual MyWay ones but I can’t get those here in the UAE so this is a chance to try a new version. It pitches very quickly but you lose the roof rack space and there’s no useful rear overhang which is so handy in hot deserts or wet conditions. However, it’s a fine tent and I’m happy with it right now.
Time came round eventually to move on and begin to head north, back to the UAE. A little exploration of mountain tracks however was in order first;
So all in all, Bumblebee’s first big overland trip – and very successful it has been. Here’s to the next one!