Long weekends are hard to find in the UAE. And with the weather getting better for a change, it was just the right time for camping. As amateurs, Balan & I picked up the entire kit from Lulu and packed it in the trunk. Yes, the camping list is planned for another post.
After a lazy start, we set on the road to Khasab via Ras Al Khaimah. We got a bit lost and instead landed on the road to Jabal Jais – the highest mountain in the UAE. It’s a 30 min detour that goes uphill through rocky mountains and serves a view from the not-so-high summit.
We headed back to RAK to join the coastal road and stopped by at a local bakery for a quick bite. The freshly baked pizza & assorted fatayer were just delectable – only to release that the delivery boy had baked them in absence of the chef 😉
Next stop was the border. On the UAE side, we had to park to get exit stamps. This is where they verify that the visa is eligible for visa-on-arrival in Oman. There’s an exit fee of 35Dh per head, only accepted via the e-Dirham card. So if you have one, carry it along. We were given a slip mentioning the number of people & vehicle number which we had to give at the UAE border exit.
We stopped again in about 100m at the Omani border to get our visas. Lucky for us, there were no queues. The visa fee of OMR 5 (~50Dh) is not accepted in Riyals, so we paid by card. A 30 day permit was stamped in exchange for the fee and a small form. Back in the car, Omani customs took a quick peep in the boot and let us go. 5 minutes in to Oman and the views were heavenly. We were just in time for sunset.
We kept driving on the coastal road for the next 40 kms and kept finding camping spots that we’d marked on GPS. We thought of driving around the town to find eateries and fuel. An Al Maha fuel station was just around the corner, and 800m away, there was a Lulu on the other side of the road. Lulu was a blessing! For the next 2 days, it was going to be basecamp for our camping adventure. That’s where we freshened up, refilled food, water and other essentials.
Back to camp, we had a bit of trouble on my debut firing up the barbecue. A generous Arab camping next to us helped us with his flame torch that fired the briquettes in moments, saying this was the ‘arab style’ of doing it. We relaxed on the beach and then setup our tents right on the shoreline.
Next morning, we headed to town and with a lot of help, found the port. We negotiated 300Dh for a 2 hour ride on a private boat with Abdullah. A native fisherman, he was not only an astute navigator, but also knew tricks to surface dolphins.
A short tour we took in the waters around Khasab port. Our expert boat driver Abdullah knew all the tricks to get the dolphins dancing.
We headed back to town for lunch. The market didn’t have a single decent restaurant. Since Balan & Kavita were vegan, we stopped by at a South Indian resto. Aditi & I enjoyed mutta roast with roti parotha. Tired of setting up tents for a nap, we stretched out in the car itself.
After restocking at Lulu, we setup our tents on the shoreline. The beach was a bit more wasted than the previous night, and we had to find a clean spot. As we relaxed on our chairs, the waves kept coming closer. At one point, they were 4 feet away from the mat and we decided to relocate. Lucky for that decision, when we woke up the next morning, the entire shoreline was vacant. Folks had to move in the middle of the night.
We freshened up in the morning and started back for Dubai. We wanted to visit Jebel Harim on the way, but it was a detour and we expected it to be just like Jebel Al Jais. There was a bit of rush at the border. Passports needed to be stamped at both checkpoints, but without any fees. With a couple of pitstops, we still managed to reach home before sunset.
A weekend well spent!