DAY 3: Sur to Wahiba Sands
Hotel:.Al Areesh Camp, Al Qabil, Oman $65
Well, obviously not the best night of sleep before. .I really just wanted to get out of there. .Once again I found the signs hard to navigate, but after about an hour [!] of driving around Sur (not the worst thing in the world with the handmade dhow boats in the morning light), I finally got on the road going northwest to Al Qabil, the nearest spot to my camp (desertdiscovery.com). .A popular thing to do is stay in Bedouin tourist camps in the desert. .This one was the most reasonably priced one at 25 rial/night (20 each for couple sharing) and was also reviewed well. .The driving was really cool as the landscape changed from craggy mountains to desert scrub and eventually full on dunes to the west side. .I stopped in Al Qabil 4km north of the camp entrance road to get cash at an ATM (can’t use credit cards there, sorry!) .A little sketchy as again, no women to be seen, but lots of dudes hanging out, getting money from the ATM, just talking. .Hijab-time for sure even though obviously I stuck out.
I got to the camp really early, around 10:30am. .It’s only 7km into the Sands. .YOU DO NOT NEED A 4WD TO GET THERE!!! .People seem to be rather paranoid about this on the internet and even in person, but you absolutely would be fine with this camp. Again, the roads in Oman generally were impecabble, especially for this LAX based driver.
There was only one Pakistani guy there, he said the guests usually didn’t start arriving until 2p or so. .I just wanted to crash so he let me in. .This was the cheapest camp I could find. .All the camps provide dinner and breakfast. .This one also had free tea/water all day long, dates, and, coffee! .I was craving something decent and not nescafe, this was perfectly made with just the right amount of cardamom (when I make it that way I usually mess it up with a heavy hand). .I slept for a few hrs when the owner, a Bedouin Omani, woke me up to tell me they had bought me lunch and I was to eat it with him. .I was sorta disheveled but since I didn’t want to offend, I figured, all right, cleaned up, and went over. .It was Indian food picked up on his way from Muscat (apparently he lived there) and he was just checking in. .Okay….it was actually a quite tasty curry and rice, though I didn’t eat the cabbage salad, I was just already full from eating a couple croissants in the morning. .He went off to do his thing and I went back to the tent to grab a book. .By the time I got back he was passed out on one of the couches, so I finally felt at ease about the whole thing. I enjoyed the next few hrs reading and napping until closer to sundown, when I saw an Indian or Pakistani (sorry, they were far away!) family up on the dunes behind. .I decided to climb up and they had already gone down in their SUV (dune-bashing). .Later another large group of French came up though they were rather unsociable even though I spoke French and not English to them. .Had many beautiful pictures. .The dunes were really fun to run down and so soft!
Dinner was what I soon found to be the typical “tourist camp” meal: Arabic salad, hummus and pita, rice, and currys. .It was pretty tasty here though. .At dinner I heard some people speaking English and met two Italian men in their 40s-50s doing a bike tour and a German couple. .I went over to say hi, and hung out with the Germans all night. .The woman was born and lived in the US for a while, and a DO, while the guy was a psychologist. .We really got on well and had many common interests! .However, eventually it was time for bed, since it gets dark, that pretty much ends the partying early (for us, the “nite-owls”, it was around 9:30p). .