November 27, 2011 – It was already Sunday and the last day of our camping trip. I felt uneasy of not having a good bath for three days. I just even tied up my hair and simply washed my face with the limited water that was left. What’s more, I wanted to go to a toilet and pass out the uneasiness within me.So, we went back to Sur and roamed around the city looking for a restaurant or coffee shop. I noticed the many fine old houses with carved doors and Arabic-style windows. As we were near the harbor, the fishing dhows (boat) were a splendid sight. I have discovered that this this town was once a well-known ancient port and seafaring city and a major trading destination between Oman, East Africa and India.Then, we stopped at a nearby Turkish Restaurant and luckily found a good and comfortable toilet. All of us were able to refresh ourselves and had a really nice breakfast afterwards.
Later we drove for three hours in the interior of Sharqiyah Region. At about 11:00AM, we met one of Gerry’s Omani friend in Wahiba. He brought his Lexus 4WD along with his bestfriend. They gave us a free and pretty challenging ride through the sand dunes.
The golden sand of Wahiba desert was fantastic. We stopped at the highest peak of the sand hills about 200 meters high and took some pictures. I even gathered some desert sands and placed in an empty water bottle.
The vastness of this dessert is also a home to the Beduoin, the natives of the region. The word “Bedouin” translates loosely as “those who live in bādiyah” or “those who live in the desert.” The Bedu specialize in raising camels for racing which normally takes place throughout the region from mid-October to mid-April. They are also skillful and good craftsmen. The women wear distinctive and colorful dresses with peaked masks and an abeyya (black outer clothing). We just passed by one of the houses of a Bedu located in interior of the dunes as we headed to one of the famous desert camp called Al Raha Tourism Camp.
While getting to the camp, I figured out that it’s practically dangerous to cross the desert without a guide or being accompanied with someone who knows the route. Moreover, there were no provisions or water and even petrol stations beyond the northern periphery. So it is advisable not to venture through the sands alone. However, the Bedu have been also known to rescue tourists trapped or stucked in the sand.
The Al Raha Tourism Camp situated in the further north of Wahiba is like a haven campsite. The fenced off area is surrounded by lot of green trees that provide comfort for guests and visitors. There’s also playground for kids and functional area for special events. The camp also offers a daytime adventure and a nighttime of comfort that cost a package from 100 – 200 Omani Rials. Our Omani guides told us that it is better to stay a night in the camp that costs 10 Omani Rials per person per night and immersed yourself with the real sand safari and camel adventure.
But for us, we really had an exhilarating ride when we tried to get down through a very steep and perfectly 45 degrees sloped of sand dune. I can’t stop myself but to shriek out loud with my heart almost pounding out of my chest. I thought it was very scary thing to do, but our driver was really good and we were so impressed!