On Friday, January 23rd, Rebecca and I were up early and on the road by 5:30 am. We were off to meet with a group known as the UAE Trekkers. We had known about the group for some time, but this would be the first adventure with them. Everyone met at the Bawadi Mall in Al Ain with vehicles arriving from mostly Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Once everyone was accounted for we set out east to the Oman border crossing of Khatm al Shakla passing hundreds of camels along the way. The convoy crossed into Oman and made its way to the trailhead of Jebel Qatar.
The hike started at 9:30 am and we were soon heading up a wadi (dry riverbed). We were quickly surrounded by cliffs on each side. The rainwaters occasionally flood the wadi and have sculpted the rocks over the years. We left the wadi after an hour and made our way across an open boulder field towards a cliff wall. We were told we would be going up the cliff wall, but I could not see how as it was almost vertical. We arrived at the base of the cliff and were shown a crevice in the rock. The group slowly made our way up and soon emerged on the cliff edge. It was a great view.
We walked across the open ridge and made the final assault on the summit which is just shy of 2000m. It was worth the effort and we could see for miles all around. We had lunch at the top and relaxed for a while before heading back. We took a slightly different way going down through another wadi. It was 3:00 pm by the time we made it to the cars. That night, Rebecca and I stayed in Al Ain and were quite exhausted from our hike.
The next day, we drove through the Al Ain oasis, a long important refuge on the ancient overland trade route from the Gulf to Oman. After that, we visited the Al Ain National Museum which focuses on the extensive ethnographic and archaeological finds from the area. We then walked through Al Jahili fort which houses a display of photography from British adventurer, Wifred Thesiger. His images of Beadouin life are very well known and one of our favorites. From there, it was time to head back to Abu Dhabi after a great weekend.