Tag Archives: Sunset

Oman Day 6 – Wadi View!

Tuesday Feb 26. After a good night’s sleep, lulled by the song of our crickets, we found that the wind, and its accompanying flying sand, had dropped somewhat: so the only hazard we had to deal with over breakfast was the flies, who fancied a share of our fare.

Apart from covering the food, another way to discourage them is to burn Frankincense; the scent seems to keep them away. The breakfast was, as all meals at the Hud Hud camps, excellent, and so we set out for the day feeling replete.
On the way out we passed a goat farm where the goats were all trooping along for their morning drink.

Goats returning to their farm for water, Oman desert

As we exited the desert, it was interesting to see just how clear and sharp was the delineation between it and not-desert – you see flat flat flat flat – desert,

Abrupt start to the Oman desert

alongside which is a stern warning!

Stern warning to all sand farmers, Oman

Frankly, I’m not sure how they’d know if you popped in and took a couple of truckfuls, but anyway….a longish drive back into the mountains took us to the outskirts of the village which takes its name from one of the most popular wadis in the area, Wadi Bani Khaled.

Before we took a walk along the banks of the wadi, Rashid took us off road to see it from above. The view over the village is quite striking

Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

but the view of the wadi itself from even higher is, I think, the most spectacular view of the holiday so far.

Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

The photo hardly does it justice; the contrast between the ruggedness of the rocks, the way the village nestles among them and the greenness of the wadi below makes this absolutely remarkably to stand and see. Even Rashid was struck by it

although his mate appeared to have his mind elsewhere.
It looked deserted from up there. We went down to discover that the parking was nearly full and that there were hordes of people heading up the wadi. Bloody tourists, giving tourism a bad name. However, it was a nice enough walk up the wadi, which has several irrigation channels running off it, obvs – the Omanis are vigilant in finding ways to get water to where it’s needed.

Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

After a short walk, you arrive at a couple of pools

Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

and you begin to realise the extent to which the area has been set up for tourists

with specially-installed viewpoints and also a restaurant, on the left in the picture below.

Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

The restaurant serves a mean lemon-and-mint juice, and Jane reported herself satisfied also with the watermelon juice. The juice stop gave us a nice view of people having a nice time.

It’s then possible to walk a little way further up the wadi, where you can see pools that people can paddle or swim in.

though, this being where it is, there are some caveats about dress

(which were being quite widely ignored, sad to say; bloody tourists again, eh?).
Beyond that the path gets very rocky and in places slippery, so we didn’t go much further. on the way back, Jane got a fishy pedicure:

which started off apparently being very ticklish but soon became quite addictive. There was certainly one chap just up from where Jane sat who had been there with his feet in the water for quite some while.

After we’d exhausted the entertainment possibilities we headed off for lunch. The path beside the wadi passed a couple of mango trees, both magnificently in flower.

We’d enjoyed Wadi Bani Khaled, but at the same time found it slightly weird to have such (relatively speaking) naked pandering to tourism after all the other, less exploited places we’d visited. As our late neighbour Cyril used to lament, tourism is ruined by tourists, and this was the first inkling we’d really had about the encroaching effects of tourism in Oman. It’s an important industry, and the country needs to develop and grow it; but the downside is that nature will get built upon. Let’s hope that the Omani government will try to ensure that tourism development is done in the best possible taste.

Lunch was as usual an excellent picnic courtesy of our Hud Hud chef. After that, we headed back into the desert. En route, we saw the extent of the date palm plantation outside Biddiyah. The water supply that feeds it means it can spread until it butts up hard against the desert behind it.

Desert and Oasis outside Biddiyah, Oman

The object of going back into the desert was to visit Said’s gaff to gain a little insight into the bedouin culture. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but in the event it turned out to be a sizeable room, constructed in a traditional manner out of date palm trunks, stalks and leaves. That sounds insubstantial, but, as you can see from the picture below, it is a sizeable and robust fabrication. As you can also see from the cars parked outside, we weren’t the only visitors.

A Bedouin Family House, Oman

Half of the room is given over to carpets upon which coffee and dates are served to seated groups of visitors.

A Bedouin Family House, Oman

and the other half to, well, stuff – artefacts and domestic things, some of which are for sale and some of which aren’t.

A Bedouin Family House, Oman

To give you an idea of the construction, here are close-ups of the ceiling

which is date palm leaf stalks, and the walls

which are also date palm stalks, but with the leaves left on to provide a fibrous surround.

Our stay there was reasonably short, and we headed off back to the Wahiba sands to get back to camp in time for sunset.

En route, we saw several things worthy of a photo: some opportunistic goats grabbing an illicit snack;

Opportunistic goats, Oman

racing camels being taken back to their farms after exercise;

Racing camels returning after exercise, Oman

and some more hazards on and off the road (which carries right on towards Muhut until it suddently stops being a road and deposits you onto flat sand, at which point you are on your own – further underlining the need to make sure you’re properly prepared for desert travel).

We also stopped off to allow me to try for some arty shots of dunes

Wahiba sands, Oman desert

Wahiba sands, Oman desert

To get to a decent viewpoint for the sunset, we piled into the car (taking an extra member of the camp staff with us to help dig us out in case we got stuck on a dune somewhere) and Rashid took us dune-bashing via a circuitous route to the top of a dune overlooking a valley and served coffee whilst we awaited sunset.

The sunset itself wasn’t particularly spectacular, but the location was very zen.

Sunset, Wahiba sands, Oman desert

When we got back to camp, we had the usual excellent dinner and, while Patrick and Jane went off to hunt more scorpions, I set to to trying to get some images of the stars. I got some stills which were rather ho-hum, and then set a timelapse going. Again, it’s nothing too dramatic, but it looks like some aeroplanes came through, (I originally thought they might be shooting stars, but I now doubt that):

A post shared by Steve Walker (@spwalker2016) on

After all that excitement, since we were due to leave camp the following morning, there was nothing for it but to try to finish off the gin we’d bought on arrival in Oman. Patrick manfully stepped up to the plate to help us out and by hook or by crook we finished it off with just about time for a reasonable amount of sleep before having to face the next day, which is, of course, covered in the next gripping installment of this blog, where I hope we’ll meet again.

Day 9 – Korčula, and drama on the high seas. Or rather, a tiff in the harbour.

September 23rd. At bang on 0600, the engines of the Perla roared into life and sleep thus became impossible. To be fair, we were warned in the information we got that there would be engine noise, and so had packed the recommended earplugs. But they were in my spongebag rather than my ears, and less effective therefore. I shall not hesitate to use them should we be moving at night.

The mission of the day was to get to Brač before the weather closed in – Filip was talking about northerly gales, and I trusted his information sources (Tom, our skipper) better than the BBC Weather App which was forecasting showers and a north-easterly stiff breeze. Anyhoo, Tom put the hammer down and we were off!

There was one break in the journey, to visit the island of Korčula, which is a couple of hours’ motoring from Slano. This gave us time to suss out the breakfast, which was nice but made me very glad about all those Twinings Earl Grey teabags we’d packed, and then we were being ushered off the boat to meet local guide Željka. If nothing else, at least week one had prepared me for being able to spell her name correctly. It became clear that much of the (perforce) short visit was going to be spent in the local museum, which Filip had arranged to be opened especially for our group, which was a nice touch. However, faced with a new and handsome town,

and with camera in hand, my thoughts tend not to turn to museum visits, but rather to pottering around looking for nice scenes. So we excused ourselves from the rest of our group and wandered about, trying to find parts of Korčula town which were not full of Asian tourists taking selfies. It’s a small town, so this wasn’t altogether straightforward. But we managed to find some scenes which I hope you agree are reasonably photogenic.

Very near the quay where Perla was moored is a handsome staircase which was part of the old city’s walls (much of which are still intact).

The top debouches on to the cathedral square, which would have made a lovely photo were it not for the hordes of people there. Adjoining this square there is a another, smaller one

which took several minutes to photograph, as I had to wait for the oriental tour party to move on.

Just off the cathedral square is an art shop, which has a captivating display on the outside walls.

We’re not sure whether they’re for display or for sale (though I’d hazard a guess at the latter), but it’s a lovely way to display items to get people’s attention.

We did pop into the cathedral, but only for a few seconds as someone scolded Jane for wearing shorts, so we apologised and beat a hasty retreat. I felt somewhat aggrieved on Jane’s behalf, as there were ladies inside with skirts far shorter and men in shorts, none of whom were being berated. I suppose that the modern thing to do, having taken offense on someone else’s behalf, is to stir things up via a social media shitstorm with a catchy hashtag – #handsoffmywifesshorts, or something.

Anyway, we wandered on and discovered, radiating out from the cathedral square, several narrow lanes along which you can clearly see evidence of the lives of ordinary people being lived, alongside the inevitable cafes and restaurants.

All in all, Korčula town is a very agreeable place to potter around for an hour or so and I could have spent longer getting some more imaginative shots. But I hope that these give you a flavour of how pleasant the place is.

Next stop – Brač. In our previous week, we visited Bol (the principal town on the island), but our target today was a different place, Milna, which we thought would be just this little place and a venue for a meal out on the town.

The reality was a little different, and the weather played quite a part in this.

As we approached Milna, an interesting landmark was a sunken boat which was being supported by salvage buoys.

and it became clear that (a) there is a significant marina here and (b) the sailing world and his dog were headed towards it, driven by reports of the gale that Filip had mentioned – the channel in was quite crowded. Our captain had a shouting match with another vessel which clearly didn’t understand about navigation priorities under these circumstances and, as we tied up at the quay in the marina, the guy in charge there was frantically challenging all arriving boats and turning away any that didn’t have a reservation, as the marina was full. All of the boat crew said that they’d never seen it so crowded.

The late afternoon and evening light in Milna made it a pretty place.

The moon was full

and the sunset colours were lovely.

We had a very tasty and fishy evening meal to round off the day. Walking back to Perla, it was very difficult to believe that there was a storm brewing. But there was – and you’ll have to read all about it in the next entry. See you there!