Muscat to Sur: Exploring the Omani coast

Sunday morning we did some quick Internet browsing and learned that there was a 4×4 trail that headed a few hours south of Muscat, hugging the rugged shoreline until the town of Sur. Chris, a lover of 4x4s and the ocean, was immediately sold. I was just looking for an opportunity to go for a swim somewhere.

Once again, we set out in the car with minimal directions and no map. Seriously, who needs a map in Oman anyway? Apparently not many people, as is made evident by the fact that there are none for sale. Using the same technique as we had the day before, we headed south, through a small stretch of mountains, and finally east toward the coast.

After driving a ways down a scenic highway through the mountains to the town of Qurayyat, we finally encountered a fellow 4×4 enthusiast who had heard of the trail that we were looking for. We headed out to the shoreline, carefully following his directions, only to find a washed out road. A dead end.

Back to the highway we went, repeating this process several times until we found a tiny trail through the town of Wadi Tiwi. Even though I protested going on what I thought would be one of Chris’ time consuming and unnecessary diversions, he slowly and carefully navigated the SUV up and down the narrow path into the oasis of a village. Nestled deep in a canyon, far below the jagged brown mountains was a small river flowing through a lush green valley. It was exactly what I picture when I imagine happening upon a desert oasis.

The mountain runoff wound along the road, creating deep, clear, pools, perfect for going for a swim. Without even discussing it, we were on a mission to find one of these pools distant enough from the village that I would feel comfortable donning a bathing suit without fear of offending anyone.

As we crept up and down hills along the narrow dirt track, there were many times when I wondered how we would get turned around if we encountered a dead end. I could picture me directing traffic for miles as Chris carefully backed all the way back down this thing.

Fortunately, we never made it to a dead end and even ended up parking in a reasonable place to turn around, somewhat close to an awesome swimming hole. This was probably my favorite part of the whole trip. The cool water felt amazing in contrast to the hot desert air and it was kind of fun to find our own swimming spot far away from anything else.

After we had enough swimming, Chris carefully navigated back out of the wadi and we continued our journey down the highway towards Sur. In hindsight, I’m so glad that I allowed Chris to take me on one of his wild goose chases because going swimming in the wadi was far more exciting than our final destination of Sur was.

We wrapped up our weekend by heading back to Muscat. First we visited the bazaar, which even in the evening was crowded with people. After tiring of the continued harassment from vendors to buy pashminas, we decided to end our trip to Oman with dinner on the roof of a beach side restaurant.

All in all, this was a really fun trip and I’m glad that we made a last minute decision to go.

  1. jena said:

    This sounds like a fun trip! You guys are getting to do some really awesome stuff while you are over there! How cool to swim in a hidden little lake! 4×4 over rocks and all that scares me to death,(that fear stems from rolling my 4runner when I was a teenager).

    • Brit said:

      Swimming in the wadi was seriously so awesome!

      Some of the roads were kind of scary, I agree. Not so much “OMG, we’re going to die” scary, but more “OMG, we are so going to dent/scratch/break this rental car in some way and owe tons of $$$”. Fortunately, we didn’t. Supposedly it was a maximum of $130 penalty if we broke the car, that sounds too good to be true.

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