DAY 2- Muscat to Ras al Jinz (Wadi Shab, Sur, Ras al Jinz)
No hotel, car-camped
The next day after my coffee and a little more beach time I stopped at the Carrefour where I heard you could by a tent for 10 rials. I actually got one for just under 4 ($10) that was pretty decent! Also I bought a pack of zataar croissants (I guess I was immediately addicted) and a pair of sandals (forgot mine) that really didn’t fit in retrospect. If you have large feet (I usually take 42/US 11 narrow), the middle east is probably not the best place to find shoes. Buyer beware. This all cost me 7 rials in total. Then stopped off at the gas station to fill the tank from about empty for roughly 4 rials. Crazy cheap!
I took the road down towards Sur hoping to get to Bimmah Sinkhole and Wadi Shab. It took me a little time to get on the correct road as signs are a little vague (there are 2 directions in Oman: Muscat, in the northeast, and Salalah, 12 hrs to the south, regardless if you are somewhere in the middle of the country trying to go west). The roads, however, were in excellent shape. Be prepared for others going well over the speedlimit, and tailgaiting you regardless of no one in the other lane for miles and miles. I got a late start so skipped the sinkhole, but had a nice hike to Wadi Shab. There were flash floods 3 days prior, so there were a lot of stream crossings and a fairly strong current. Luckily the local boys act as guides if you like. There is a boat to get you across the stream to the start point which is 400 baisa round trip. I gave the guide a total of 3 rials including that since he came with me the whole trip, helped me with stream crossings, and I was the last person of the day. I drove through Sur which is a bigger city about 30-45 minutes south of Wadi Shab. The only people out and about by around 6/6:30pm were guys. I had thought about grabbing dinner somewhere but didn’t have a good feeling, so kept going.
In the evening I was supposed to meet with a guy for a guesthouse camping in Ras al Hadd to the south. He refused to give me the address and wanted me to meet at this gas station. I couldn’t find it and had a meh feeling so I headed straight south to Ras al Jinz for a turtle watching tour. The guides used a bright flashlight which I wasn’t used to (I had been to see this in Panama and they used only 1 red light which the tour guide had). We got to see one green turtle laying eggs and then some turtles ran off to the beach. Most guests were staying at the center for a ludicrous amount, though a few drove in from guesthouses in Ras al Hadd area or were on a tour. If you just book the tour at the center it’s 3 rials. It’s definitely recommended to email them in advance to reserve because it’s quite popular; there were 3 groups that went out around 8pm with 20-25 people each.
I’d originally booked an additional am tour (you can take photos then) at 4am [!] but was feeling tired and not really like it would be that great. I had wanted to just crash in the car (camping not allowed @ Ras al Jinz) but there were a lot of local bus drivers or something hanging out with loud music and talking outside the center, so I headed up again towards Sur hoping to find an isolated spot along the beach as many guidebooks recommended. I just didn’t find a spot I liked though, so ended up in Sur again before I knew it. I drove around the town a few times before finding a spot I liked next to a big dhow boat illuminated in lights. Got about 2 hrs sleep before I heard people outside and decided to jet north of downtown, finally finding a quiet, nice spot where I slept past sunrise. It seems like the big social thing to do in Sur, maybe all of Oman, for dudes is to drive around town at night, pull over, and then congregate with whomever else is there. Sorta bizarre. No women out and about at night!