Last weekend, the three of us made a quick trip to the Sultanate of Oman. We flew into the capital, Muscat, late on Thursday night because our weekends in Abu Dhabi are on Friday and Saturday. We stayed at a bed and breakfast owned by a German guy, and he told us that it was absolutely necessary to rent a car. While all three of us have refused to get behind the wheel of a car in the Emirates due to the fact that most people drive like they are driving a race car, we determined that driving in Oman wouldn’t be a problem.
We rented a little Suzuki SX4, which was quite small, but that served us well over the weekend. We explored the souks and side streets of Oman on Friday before ending our day with a traditional Omani meal. Instead of tables, each party is given a private booth with pillows on the sides and a sheet of plastic on the floor in the center of the booth. When the waiter brought our food and set it on the plastic on the floor, we then proceeded to dig into the meal with the traditional utensils our hands! The meal was quite good, and it was a fun experience to eat at an Omani restaurant.
The next day, we loaded up our Suzuki and headed to Wadi Shab, which is a set of natural springs in the mountains several hours outside of Muscat. Oman is quite mountainous, and the mountains come very close to Muscat, which is on the coast. As we drove on the highway, all of us thought that it was very similar to driving through the Rockies on I-70.
I should point out that even though the Muscat is located in the foothills of the mountains and that it should only take 5 minutes to get on the highway through the mountains, we decided to take a scenic detour through Muscat. Some would claim that we were directionally challenged or a few could even claim that we were lost, but the actual term isn’t really important. We eventually got on the mountain highway and drove toward Wadi Shab. It was a really cool drive through the mountains and a good change of pace from the desert of Abu Dhabi.
Several hours later, we exited the highway and proceeded to what we thought was Wadi Shab. There were points on the road where fording some water was required, but the Suzuki did fine. Then we came to a small town with a very small road and lots of blind corners. We figured that it was all part of the hidden Oman that keeps Wadi Shab off of the beaten path. Then we came to a really steep grade on the road/path. While we were confident that Suzy the Suzuki (as she came to be known) could handle it, we decided to ask for directions. Cliff and I voted for Ian to ask a local man for the way to Wadi Shab. Upon consulting the Omani, Ian learned that we were actually in Wadi Tiwi, not Wadi Shab. It was good to learn this at that point because upon further assessment of the steep grade, there was no way that Suzy was going to make it. We drove back to the highway and found our way to Wadi Shab.
To get to the actual springs at Wadi Shab requires a short boat ride across a river, about an hour of walking, and about 5 minutes of swimming. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to the springs with our camera because we had to swim the final part, but the springs were absolutely breathtaking. There were some great caverns, a waterfall and some magnificent springs in the mountains of Oman. The pictures that we took before the swimming part are still pretty cool, though.
After reveling in the success of our mountain adventure, we then headed back to Muscat for a midnight flight back to Abu Dhabi. We had a great weekend in Oman, so the short trip from Abu Dhabi was well worth it!