A trip to Oman is not complete without a trip to the interior. We decided to take them to Sur and Nizwa because we had been there before and enjoyed our time there plus a night in the desert. We started in Nizwa with the Souq and the Fort which had been closed the last time we were there so it was new to use as well. The fort had some great exhibits about the history and culture of Oman, Islam, the fallaj’s which are the irrigation system used here and history of the fort. We were pretty impressed by the fort which whose “keep” is a giant cylinder. The cylinder is like a half full cup about 100 feet across and 60 feet tall and the inside can only be reached via a small tunnel. The tunnel has 7 reinforced doors gates each of which is set 90 degrees to the preceding hallway to limit the size of battering ram that can be used on it. Each door is about 6 inches thick with a pitfall behind it and murder holes above it. Inside the keep is very simple, open with only a few storage buildings and a 30 foot high wall. The idea was that the elevation of the platform inside the cylinder would allow the defenders to fire their cannons further than an attacker preventing bombardment from breaching the walls. Now it is a great place to see the city and look down on the souq. The highlight (again) at the souq was the date area. We tried the different varieties and then bought our favorites. They boys tried chocolate covered dates but Ethan spit out the date once the chocolate was melted.
Our next stop was a desert camp. We piled into the Sorento and met our guide at a tire shop where the air was let out of the tires to 18 psi to help with grip on the sand. Our trip out was uneventful and we ended up in a cool little camp with palm frond huts. Right after we unpacked we headed out into the desert and drove to the top of a dune for sunset and traditional coffee. It was beautiful!
After dinner we sat under the stars and enjoyed the evening. By eight it was black, the Omanis had retired and we all headed to bed. The night was a little challenging with a whole bunch of mosquitoes biting us including Ethan on the lip which swelled up. It soon “deflated” with a bit of anti-histamine.
After breakfast we went for a camel ride. The hardest part of the ride was not falling forward when the camel stands or sits down. The camels were joined together with ropes on a bridle to the saddle of the next animal and a Bedouin held the lead rope. On the return leg of our 20 minute loop the camels started to rush forward which meant that sometimes there would be a camel’s head, complete with cud and drool, right beside your arm. A little gross. The Bedouin had to hold the lead camel back a few times as it would pass him and try to increase the pace. It was a fun ride.
Organized activities done at the camp we drove back to the highway refilled the tires and headed to Wadi Bani Khalid. As before it was a great stop for swimming and lunch before going to Sur for the night. This time we ate in the outside on patio of the main restaurant instead of the captain’s lounge. The the spring rolls were still to die for.
In morning we visited the Dhow factory which was actually open and climbed aboard. It had been about a month since we had been there so it was cool to see the progress they had made.
We were planning to visit Wadi Shab but missed the turn or had bad directions and ended up at Wadi Tiwi. The boys were a little bummed that there was no swimming there but the adults agreed it was a beautiful spot. Lunch was right on the rocks and then we piled in to drive to the very end of the road, a village called Nebuom. A few of the crew were quite nervous about the drive as it was steep and a little perilous at times but the Sorento handled it no problem.
At the top of the mountain we parked the car and got guides to lead us down to a waterfall and pool. It was quite treacherous but Dad and I managed to get all the boys to the bottom. The girls had had enough climbing and stayed up top with the stuff. Local kids were climbing up and down the rocks like goats and we must have looked silly with our cautious ways. The boys put one foot in and decided it was too cold to swim in despite being warmer than the pool we swam in the day before. Dad and I cooled off and then we all trekked back up the hill to the car.
The drive back down was steep but uneventful. Every so often we would stop, Dad and I would take pictures, the brakes would cool and then we would head back down. Wadi Tiwi is on my must see again list.
We used the modern bathroom facilites in the parking lot and then drove home. As per standard we ate at McDonald’s to mark the end of a successful road trip.