| Part 4: Ibri, Bahla,
Misfat, Wahiba desert
24.12: Munich -> Istanbul -> Muscat
27.12: Muscat -> Rustaq -> Sohar
28.12: Sohar -> Ibri
29.12: Ibri, Al Ayn, Jabrin fort, Nizwa
30.12: Ibri -> Bahla -> Misfat -> Ibra
31.12: Ibra, Al Qabil, Wadi Bani Khalid
01.01: Al Qabil -> Wahiba desert
02.01: Wahiba desert -> Sur
03.01: Sur, Ras Al Hadd
04.01: Sur -> Muscat
05.01: Muscat -> Salalah
06.01: Salalah, Taqah, Mirbat
07.01: Salalah, Wadi Dawkah, Nabi Ayoub
08.01: Salalah, Mughsail
09.01: Muscat -> Istanbul
10.01: Istanbul -> Munich
Ibri -> Bahla -> Misfat -> Ibra
Sharqiya Sands, Ibra. 45 OR for a small and cramped double room,
decently furnished with TV, fridge, phone, adjustable A/C. Extra
mattress for Natasha at no extra charge, breakfast included. Shirley
complains that the bed smells a bit like pee. Decent toilet with
shower/bathtub and hairdrier. A bit overpriced, since the room is so
warm and sunny (strong sun) the whole day. More or less windy. In the
evening cold and windy in Ibra.
morning starts 'well' when I check my emails and am informed that
somebody hacked one of my websites. Very limited time available as I am
supposed to pack our stuff and leave the hotel. Relatively slow (2G
with GPRS) Internet connection, which makes it time-consuming to check
things. I manage to reestablish a basic site functionality, then rush
to pack our stuff.
Thanks to an idiot who used a dumb
SQL-injection technique to hack the site to prove to the whole world
how brilliant he is, I have to skip breakfast. Will have to edit all
scripts when I am back home and close all these SQL-injection holes.
11:10am when we finally leave the hotel and start driving to Bahla.
When you travel with small kids it is almost impossible to be up and
running in the early morning - there are so many things to pack, do and
In any case at 12:15pm we reach Bahla, or
to be more
accurate the Bahla fort. This looks quite impressive from a distance,
on a hill overlooking the valley. Too bad that it is currently closed
for restauration. The area around the fort is quite interesting and
consists of old buildings made with mud.
explore the area
until 1pm, then go to the nearby restaurant. We found it with the Nokia
phone navigation system, by looking under the category 'restaurants'.
From outside it does not look like anything special, but once again the
food is delicious. We have Indian food (chicken Biryani), which tastes
Shirley even says that the Indian food
in Oman is
better than the Indian food in India. Basically it is so easy to find
good Indian food in Oman, because there are so many people from the
Indian subcontinent in Oman. Also the fresh fruit juice is delicious.
The excellent food is one of the surprises we experience in Oman.
2 something pm when we start driving to the next place, the city of
Misfat. This is an old city on the mountains near Bahla, next to a palm
oasis. Very photogenic setting. Misfat has an own water spring,
which is used by locals for swimming in a pool. In the oasis I see date
palms and banana trees.
Empty desert and oases are
features of Oman. Oases and water wells are everywhere. Maybe in summer
things get dryer here, but at the moment there is water in lots of
places. I wonder where this water comes from, since it does not rain in
this part of the country.
We arrive in Misfat
shortly before 3pm
and spend half an hour here. It would have been better if we had more
time, because it is a very nice place where you can easily spend hours
walking around. Hiking should be good and the views are nice.
at 3:30pm starts the long drive to Ibra (200km from Misfat). The road
is in a very good state, passing through quite breathtaking scenery.
Steep rock formation rising from the empty planes.
the hotel in Ibra at 6:15pm, about one hour earlier than I had thought.
And I didn't even drive too fast - in fact I'm being overtaken all the
time here in Oman. In the evening we have a dinner
in the hotel.
Ibra -> Al Qabil -> Wadi Bani Khalid ->
Qabil resthouse, Al Qabil. 30 OR for a double room with additional
mattresses for the chidren. Simple furniture
(fridge, TV, no phone. The room consists of two halves, separated by
the toilet. Ideal for a family with small kids - the kids will sleep in
the other half of the room. Toilet with shower (hot water through a
boiler). This place is actualy better than the reviews I read. The
resthouse apparently has a restaurant which we however do not try out.
Weather: warm and sunny (strong
sun) the whole day. More or less windy. In the evening cold and windy.
are woken up at 8:40am when the reception calls us to inform us that
the breakfast is only available until 9:15am. A bit strange, but we
rush to get ready and have breakfast. The breakfast is simple (buffet
type) and unimpressive.
After that we pack our stuff
the hotel by 11am. Then we head to Ibra city, buy some groceries and
have a look at the place. There is basically nothing to see. The old
town with its mud brick houses is abandoned and the remaining houses
are falling apart, which is a pity because this is a piece of national
heritage which will be lost.
Then we drive to Al
Qabil, which is
very close to Ibra. We check in the Al Qabil resthouse and unload our
stuff. After a brief break, around 1:30pm we start driving to Wadi Bani
Khalid, thinking of swimming in the pools.
place is quite straight and smooth until the junction. After that the
road climbs on the mountains and has several winding curves. After
taking once the wrong road (the Nokia navigation system does not have
complete maps of this part of Oman), we reach the destination at
2:30pm. From the parking it's a five minutes walk to the pools.
impressive to find so much water in the middle of the desert. The lower
pool is not so deep and would be suitable for the kids to swim in, but
the water is quite dirty. The upper pools have cleaner water, but are
very deep and there is no gradual increase of water depth. There is a
café next to one of the pools, and a path leading to a cave. If you
have time available it is possible to trek until the cave (moderate
difficulty level, slippery rock however).
today, some are swimming in the pools. Others, mainly youngsters, enjoy
jumping into the water. Lots of small fish in the water. The water is
not too cold for swimming.
It's almost 4pm when we
back to the car. We reach the hotel around 5:30pm. In the evening we
don't do much, except for having dinner in one place and buy again some
Al Qabil -> Wahiba desert
Areesh desert camp, Wahiba desert. 50 OR for a family room with four
beds (one double and three single ones) with attached bathroom. Very
basic, no furniture. No fan, no A/C. Electricity from sunset until
midnight. Basic bathroom with cold shower.
To get from the
room to the
bathroom you have to walk over sand, which means that you bring in sand
into both the room and bathroom when you use the bathroom.
breakfast included (dinner is buffet type, quite good, drinks
included). Tea and water are free (you can use the kitchen).
(= 100 Euro) in Germany you would get a double room in a good hotel,
but this is the desert and dinner is included. The camp is located
about 8km from the main road near Al Qabil. There is a normal road
which brings you very close to the camp. The last 500m are on sand. If
you have a saloon car, you must leave the car at the normal road.
Weather: warm and sunny, strong
sun, somehow windy the whole day. A bit less cool in the evening.
we are not rushing so we effectively leave the Al Qabil resthouse at
drive to the Al Mudeiry bedouin village, 3km
road to Ibra. Half an hour of stop there between 12 and 12:30pm, then
we drive to the Sharqiya Sands hotel, where we plan to have lunch. It's
the closest decent restaurant according to the navigation system
Lunch there takes a while and we only
2pm. Since Natasha has a constipation problem, we drive into nearby
Ibra looking for a pharmacy. The only one we see is closed right now
and opens at 4pm. There are also a number of clinics (probably local
doctors), also all closed.
So we simply drive to
camp. Everything proceeds smoothly until we reach the end of the road
and need to cover the last 500m on the sand. Probably because I have
zero experience of driving in the sand, and because the car is quite
heavy with the four of us and the luggage, we get stuck in the sand in
So I walk to the camp and get help
from the camp
staff who come with a 4WD car. Everybody gets out of the car and we put
all luggage into the 4WD car. Then the 4WD car pulls our car with a
rope out of the sand. A camp staff then shows how to correctly drive in
the sand. He drives first the car back to the road, then accellerates
considerably and with high speed he breezes over the sand until the
camp parking. Interesting, this is how you drive over sand.
check in and pay the 50 OR for the room. It's almost 3:30pm now. I ask
the camp staff to drive us around a bit. For 10 OR somebody will drive
us around for 30 minutes, then drop us on a dune overlooking the camp.
4:15pm we leave the camp in the 4WD. The drive is like on a
rollercoaster. The kids and I are thrilled at the up and down. Only
Shirley feels a bit like vomiting. A couple of times I think that the
car is going to roll over. In one spot we do the steepest descent by
car I've ever done in my life. Really amazing experience. On a dune
we stop and the kids start playing in the sand, sliding down the slope,
running and jumping. They are really excited about being here.
the car drops me off in the hill overlooking the camp and brings
Shirley and the kids back to the camp. I walk around, taking some
photos, then wait for the sunset at 5:30pm.
the sunset I
walk back to the camp. Very cool to rush down the dune slopes. Being
here is great, the only problem are the basic facilities and the strong
sun and heat during the day.
There are quite a few
the camp right now (it's peak season). Not all rooms and tents are
taken however. The camp is open until May, then reopens in October.
sunset I meet Shirley and the kids in the main tent where the dining
area is. While waiting for dinner, we have some tea in the common area.
Dinner is at 7:30pm. After dinner there is a music and dance
performance done by local artists.