As of late, I’ve been busy on the weekends out in the dunes and in the Hajars. The weekend after meeting Chris in Oman, I spent Friday in the emirate of Sharjah. Oryx 4×4 organized an afternoon “Superbowl” of dune bashing in all 7 of Badayer’s large sand bowls. This is the same spot in which Vern, Mom, and I rented a side-by-side back in 2013. It was nice to go back to this area, now actually having proper desert driving experience.
The first weekend in May, I joined Ian from Oryx for “Lunch in Sweihan”, a desert drive followed by a group picnic. I met another Oryx marshal Eyad and an Oryx member James for an afternoon drive as well. We were having a great fast paced drive with plenty of side-cresting when disaster struck. James fought a side-crest and his back end slid out on him. He rolled 2 times coming to a stop at the bottom of the dune. I was behind James and watched it unfold. We got him out of the vehicle and righted the Jeep. It was drive-able so Eyad drove it out to the blacktop where we phoned the police and a flatbed truck company. The important thing was that James was OK and had the proper off-road insurance.
On Thursday, May 11th, I headed out to Sweihan right after work and set up camp in the dunes. About 15 people from Oryx 4×4 turned up and we had a fire and BBQ. The next morning, we did a short drive in the dunes. From there, I drove north to Jebel Jais, UAE’s tallest peak at 1892 m, in the emirate of Ras al Khaimah. I met about a dozen others at 5:00pm for a full moon hike. This would be my first hike as an official trek leader with UAE Trekkers. We walked up Wadi Shah as the sun was setting and used our head torches once it was dark. The full moon concept would have been great, but the moon didn’t rise until 11:00 pm! We completed our hike and returned to the vehicles around midnight. Most people headed for home, but I couldn’t imagine making the 3 h drive to Abu Dhabi so I set up my tent and camped out again.
The following weekend, I had another trip with the UAE Trekkers lined up. On Thursday after work, I met 3 others and we carpooled up to a hotel in Ras al Khaimah. We were up early the next morning and set out for the Al Jeer border crossing into Musandam, Oman. We arrived at the Khasab port around 10:00 am and met the captain of our dhow, Saeed, with Khor Shem Tourism. We were ferried onto the massive dhow that can accommodate 100 people. We were only 14 people. We set out on a NNE bearing and passed the military island of Jazirat Umm al Ghanam. From there, we headed east to Jazirat Musandam where we spotted 2 turtles mating. Saeed took us to a great snorkel spot where he landed a huge Omani lobster with his spear gun. That evening, I BBQ’d the lobster, potatoes, chicken, and qofta with the captain and 2 mates on the back deck. One of my favorite parts of the trip was swimming in the bioluminescent water after dinner. I’d never experienced that before and it was truly amazing. We all slept out on the deck that night under the stars.
The next morning, we visited Kumzar, an isolated village accessible only by boat. The people of this fishing reliant village speak a unique language, Kumzari, the only Persian based language spoken in the Arabian Peninsula. We walked through town and up the wadi on the other side for about 1.5 h before turning back. That afternoon, we sailed back towards Khasab with a stop in the fjord of Khor Shem. There, we spotted a pod of dolphins and they entertained us by swimming around and under our dhow. We went further into the fjord to Telgraph Island, had another snorkel, and took turns jumping from the dhow into the water. From there, it was back to port and onwards to Abu Dhabi.