Friday, January 25, 2008

Musandam Trip

Land of Frankincense –leban- and fortresses; … that’s Oman. I’ve always wanted to go there and visit some of the off beaten paths. I have been to Dubai many times but this trip was out of the ordinary for me. The highlight was visiting Ras Musandam and view of the famous Strait of Hormouz.

It has been 7 months since flydad last visit to Saudi. He contacted me to tell me about his upcoming trip to Dubai/Oman and asked for some suggestions. We decided mid January would be good time for both of us and so we met one night in Dubai airport. I was accompanied by my newphew Mohammad, a new determined geocacher who is younger and more versatile.. just the qualities one needs for a hard to get cache.

Our first day spent was on the road to Hatta where we found 6 caches. The weather was warmer than in Dammam –not to nephew’s taste- but still cool. We logged Pin Head, memories of Dubai, Pay it forward, Six T, Creatures of D-night and valley view .. all in one afternoon. We had a nice lunch at the Hatta Fort Hotel and on our way back I managed to resurrect the old Road to Hatta cache. This is the same cache that got flydad and I in touch, a year ago.

The following morning we headed early to the east coast of the UAE. We first made an early stop by Camel Master farm where we had a nice breakfast prepared by his wife Camel Mistress. Camel milk in a variety of flavors was on the menu and the setting on a small dune top in front of a tent was absolutely wonderful. We wanted to stay longer but we had a long day ahead of us so we had to excuse ourselves and thanked our hosts. We continued east to Aldhaid and then headed north to Dibba passing Masafi after finding two caches, one of the them was tricky but Mohammad growing skills proved useful. We then headed south to Khor Fakkan and watched from a distance oil tankers lined up to enter the Gulf. A short turn west took us to the Omani exclave of Madha. We claimed a virtual cache there called surrounded and then continued further west to Nahwa to find the wadi bashing cache belonging to UAE. Some discrepancy between what Google maps say and what we saw on ground was noted by flydad regarding this unique exclave of UAE inside Omani inside UAE land.

We spent the night in Fujairah down south and left early morning to Ras AlKhaima. We reached the Omani boarder around noon time. Crossing the boarder was simple and took few minutes. After that we were rewarded with a scenic route that took us in a north easterly direction to the tip of Ras Musandam peninsula. The route was spectacular as we passed by beautiful sandy beaches nestled between the mountains. We made a stop at Bukha; a small village famous for its castle and claimed a cache there. Continuing further north to Ras Shaykh Masoud, we claimed another cache named Smugglers watch, right at the tip of the peninsula overlooking the famous Strait of Hormouz. Almost 25% of the world’s oil passed through this waterway in the last decades. I managed to hide my own cache on a stone wall facing east towards the Iranian Qeshm Island. Our hotel was only few kilometers down to the south east of the Ras Masoud at the entrance of Khasab town. We checked in at the Golden Tulip hotel and spent the night there. That afternoon was a little subdued after Mohammad lost his mobile at Ras Masoud but he wouldn’t let this upset the remaining day.

So the following morning we went to explore the sleepy town of Khasab and went further south on an off road trip that took us to an overlook of Khor Najd. The view down of the beach and fisherman’s dhows was absolutely stunning. We claimed another cache there and to our pleasant surprise we ran into a German couple who were also geocaching in the area. We left Khasab in the afternoon heading back to Dubai and claiming another cache on the way named Sheeba’s palace and hidden by Camel Master. Frankincense was part of the goodies found in this cache and what a better conclusion to a trip that started with memories of Leban and ended with one.