Monday 19 November we drive into Oman after starting earlier in Abu Dhabi. The only border we can cross, at Hatta, has several controls at both sides. Some stamps and forms, but no waiting. Just in Oman we see our first mud castle in Shinas. Following the road along the coast to Muscat we have a first impression of the country. The next day we visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Big complex with a very big carpet. At the other side of the city the Sultan’s Palace and several castles showing their beauty, while the National Museum explains more about Oman’s history. More to the west along the coast a big sinkhole, Bimmah. Lots of local families picknick here and some kids and tourists are swimming in the water of the hole. Men in long white robes and women in black enjoying the view. Wadis Shab and Tiwi are nice, but crowded and with a big highway bridge crossing over.
Wednesday the mountains disappear and the dunes of the dessert show up. At Fulayj al Mashayikh we, travel mate Jeroen and me, climb some dunes and enjoy the view on the endless desert. Amazing. The car is stuck in the sand next to the road and within a minute a pickup truck, three in front and ten in the back, stops to help. Local kids are watching and asking to take their picture. Everyone is so friendly. The famous Wadi Bani Khalid is quite a drive through the mountains. Amazing views, beautiful. Until a huge traffic jam occurs. Apparently a few thousand Omani decided to picknick at the wadi. It’s a national day. Lucky us. Fun to see all the picknicking. The beautiful pictures of an empty wadi… well next time. At Nizwa the big mud castle is lighted for the night. Of course, like everywhere, in the national colors red, white and green. Like all the flag along the roads and portraits of Sultan Qaboos. The fort in the castle is kind of round and the stair to the top have doors. Every door has a shaft in front where they could poor boiling and burning dates juice on you. After the door a pit and soldiers to fire. A corner and the same is waiting. this six times. Nice welcome.
Thursday is a day of mud castles. Bahla castle is dark gray from a distance, but surprisingly bright from close. On several places you still can see how the mud is mixed with small stones and natural fibers. Inside storage rooms with painted ceilings. From the wall a view of the palm plantations around. Jabrin castle is close. Some Imam lived here and decorated the ceilings and stairs well. Then into the mountains for the Beehive Tombs of Al Ain. Round stone piles of stone on top of a hill. Impressive. A spectacular road leads us through the mountains to the castles of Rustaq and Nakhal.
Back into UED along Sohar and Hatta again. In Maleha a sign of a fort next to the road attracts. Well, the fort is not much, but the Archaeological Museum Tomb of Maleha is interesting. In this valley they found a lot of remains from the Bronze Age. Including a big tomb for 300 people. Also fun is the desert landscape tour with a 4×4 to Camel Rock, sea shell fossils and a view of the desert. More perfect empty roads in the desert back to Abu Dhabi.