From the south and
Diary 2, I now return to the north.
I make it back the the sealing, and here
are a lot! They do not re-seal the road around here, they just build a new
one parallel to the old. Convenient when you build and drive, but it does not look
good in the surroundings, which should be nature.
I reach the low
mountains, and then some towns along the Muscat highway. Then I reach
Nizwa at noon, and figure I might as well find the hotel. I kind of planned
it a couple of days ago, but now my GPS leads me out on some unsealed roads,
among new buildings. I end up in front of a house without a single letter
on. Inside, none is found either. The booking confirmation have a GPS
address, but it is 1,2 kilometres away, and does not look like the spot on
Nizwa should have a fort and a suq quite close. I find the fort, and it is
big and round! Some fancy cars are parked outside, and I figure members of
the international tourist conference on minister level are visiting. I head
around, and find a absolutely marvellous old clay town. Not all houses are
used, but here are life. Their small palm-meadows look great, and the raw
clay, forming the houses are so autistic.
I find my way back to
the car through the closed city. I can't figure why it is closed though.
There are no activity around the mosques. Anyway, the barren but low
mountains, surounding the town most be explored. I find a few roads leading
them, and make several walks. Her are not any interesting plants, but
the rocks - looking like granite in some places, defiantly marble in others,
14. It ought to be a short
day, but never the less, rich on adventure. I start with the suq, round the
corner in Nizwa, as I'm going to pass anyway. They open after eight, and I
see some of the old clay houses once more. It is a slightly cloudy
day, and the pictures might be better.
After I think most have opened their
shops, I head on. The rough plan is a tour cross the mountains to the sea,
and I have a few sights on the way. Additionally, I make many botanising
stops, although I fail to find anything new or interesting.
As the road start to follow a large
valley, old clay guard towers starts to appear. I do a long walk in the
river bottom, but it is mainly Acacias' thorns I pick-up. Here are
some other trees as well, some have quite a size. I find a fantastic
metallic-green bee in one of the few flowers.
The next stop is at a narrow gorge,
formed in black marble. It look great with some real nice bushes in, but I
lack the sun. The marble have been formed by both rain and sand through
time, and wonderful formations have been created.
I passes through a larger town, then
start the assent up the big mountains. Here, the black marble is back, and
it is truly formed by both water and sand. The road I follows lead up to a
special village; Misfat al Abriyyin. Where the other villages used to be
made of clay, this one was made in rocks.
I give up, getting the sun on the main
cluster of houses, and head on. It is almost barren and very black
mountains, but new bust starts, having wide and lush leaves. I have to
get down to the valley to find the road, leading up to Jebel Akhdar. It pass
a 2000 meter pass, turn into gravel, and head through the narrow gorges in
the high mountains.
The lower part is easier to drive, but it
still follow some enormous mountain walls, although here, the sun reaches the ground.
After almost 100 kilometres, I reach the sealed road on the other side. I am
heading for Wadi Bani Kharus, and on the way, I pass al Awabi Castle.
Bani Kharus is a disappointment after the long and amassing mountain drive,
and I turn around soon.
start the day with the hotel's breakfast for once. It is not impressive at
all, but included. Then I drive to the Bahla Castle, which is impressive. I
walk around it, but skip the inside. Instead, I do a loop around in the
nearby clay town. It could do some mending by now!
Then I make a few loops around the rest of the suq, and see the black-smiths working over coal, the fish-mongers cutting up tunas, the farmers selling vegetables and a few other open shops. Another loop in the clay town, now with higher sun, and then gas the car and fill the tea mug, and I'm off.
The plan is to follow the northern border to Sohar,
exploring the nature in this corner. The first part is rather barren gravel
desert with quite some settlement. Then a few more scatted Acacias and
bigger mountains on the sides of the valley.
Outside of Sohar, the settlements disappears, and more
sand and dunes starts. A few camels roams around, but I see no goats at all.
The dunes are crossing the road, which look fantastic and feel bad. At a
roundabout, I spot the little but well preserved
Marjeb Castle on its hill.
I stop - mainly to find lunch. It is after twelve on a Friday, and food is
hard to come around. Al the men I saw gathered at the foot of the hill were
NOT at the coffee-house, but the mosque.
It is a great area, with nice small mountains, scatted vegetation and no humans. I climb some of the rouged hills and enjoy life - till I reach the next police control. I can't get right through, I have to enter their huge office and get a stamp? Here, long lines are waiting to get visas. A lot of talking give me a stamp on a piece of paper. That get another one, just to be collected by a third, while a forth go through my car. Welcome to Oman - from where???
The mountains are even better here. Some are twisted
layers, others are colourful marble, looking like meat with fat. I stop at a
dry river, and find signs on resent rain: A lot of small, green sprouts on
the else so barren ground.
start the day with the nearby Castle of Sohar. It dates back to 1300, but
look well renovated. It is next to the beach, and I take a walk. The perfect
sand is dotted with so many different shells and conks. Where these snail
encasings use to be pale and worn down, here they are perfect. In a matter
of fact, around 10% are still alive!
In the town of
Liwa, it seems like they
are having a small Saturday market. Here are hay, fish, vegetables and
chickens. People are a bit shy, but friendly enough. On the way out of town,
I pass their large Liwa Castle.
Before I cross any borders, I turn around
at the first sign of a permanent police control. I had hoped to be able to
drive back south in the mountains, but the roads either leads into the
Emirates or it is the inland highway.
Caribbean Airways have altered
its flights once more. I can either pay a substantial amount extra, and go
12 hours later (Trinidad-Texas-Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Barcelona-Copenhagen),
or the day before for free (Trinidad-Texas-Miami-Fort
Lauderdale-Barcelona-Copenhagen). I end up finding another route,
Trinidad-Toronto-London-Copenhagen, only adding 1000 DKK to the price. But I
have to pay it all now, and apply for a refund of the first ticket! Never
EVER fly Caribbean Airways! And I just bought my US visa, now I have to apply
for a Canadian! As the internet have returned, I try, but I get an error
every time I try to pay. Wasted one hour, didn't get it.
17. The rain have more or less
continued during the night, and some parts of Oman is flooded. I guess
building sewers for a day or two a year is too much - and they probably turn
out to be too small anyway. Another solution is to let it flood, and people
seems to take it with the usually smile. They actually call it a great
I am heading for the Omani Botanical
Garden, 30 kilometres outside Muscat. I find it easily, but it is closed!
And no way I can sneak me pass the two guys, while they make selfies with
me. Well, I can see it from a hilltop, and it does not look that impressive
A local leads me to the suq, and I wonder
if I ever will be able to find my car? The maze is pedestrian only, and due
to the clouds, I have lost any idea of direction. But; I end up in the suq.
I know the harbour is nearby, and I
simply follows the water down to it. Here are more tourists, and a few
boats. Two in wood, two private-looking in the cruse-ship-class. Around the
old city, the low mountains are dotted with lookout towers.
Planning involves the Norwegian weather forecast - for Oman. It seems like Sur should be dry tomorrow, and I have seen rain enough for now. The photos of the day: Day 13: Rain in Muscat
18. I get an early start, heading
down the south coast. It is a nice drive to wadi Mayh, but the wadi itself
disappointment. It might not have been it 14 days ago, but I have spoiled
I see quite some animals today. One of
the first is a fearless Lesser Sand Plover; Charadrius mongolus.
Another a scary Grey Heron; Ardea cinerea. Then,
just after passing
the warning-sign, I see several Mountain Gazelles; Gazella gazella.
At the same time, a giant Egyptian Vulture; Neophron percnopterus
passes over the road.
In many of the coves, I gather a sample of its specials for a photo. In some, it is colourful rocks, some have shells, some polished black marble. One have a fantastic rainbow. I find a single green sand-dollar, some giant mussels, live snails and much more. A few donkeys and goats, but no camels at all.
Late afternoon, I finally make it to Sur,
and drive straight to my hotel - mainly the wrong way through the one-way
streets. None bothers. It is in the middle of the peninsular, and I head
right out in the suq - which is just an area with shops. And the entire area
is not that posh at all, but here are so many men, hanging out. The shops
open after the five-o-clock prayer, and I find one street, dedicate to
selling the traditional headwear; Kumma.
I got a clear feeling of; this is NOT where the tourists normally come.
19. I start the day finding my way to the harbour of Sur - which is a challenge, as the city is located on peninsular AND on a bay around it. Anyway; I find some old wooden ships, a light tower, some small fishing boats on the sand and small huts along the beach. I can't help myself, but I just have to collect a few more shells at the beach. Then I pass the little fort and some warn-out buildings. The football lane is still flooded, and it look like a part of the harbour!
I head towards Muscat, but slowly;
letting me enjoy the motives in the mountains. I do a few walks, but here
are no new plants - only motives. I stop at a puddle to remove some of the
mud and camel dung from the car - I'll hate that they should think; I have
done any off-roading with it!
Then I'm ready for the suq of Muscat.
Which is more than can be said of it: I just made t to the midday brake; 13;30
to 16;00. Well, I can get milk-tea and have a look at the fortress and the
harbour. I see some herons along all the seagulls in the harbour, and the
funny looking tourists. I also admires the central suq: It is a huge and
magnificent building. Each square have its own special roof construction,
and the alleys have timber sealing with decorations.
As the shops reopens, I do a few loops,
but fail to find anything I really want to owe. And as I am leaving
tomorrow, I have managed to spend most money anyway. I just have what I need
for food and tea. I gas the car on the way to the hotel, which is close to the
airport. And who do NOT accept credit card as payment for a first. I have to
find an ATM and pay the ridiculous fee to withdraw a bit of cash.
20. A slow start on the day, as I'm not really
going to accomplice anything else, than fly to
Kuwait at 14;05. I finish the slideshows:
HIGHLIGHTS OF OMAN
and try to sort out the way too many
plant photos by adding the way to few
names I have to go around.