2-4 December 2010

“I can’t find the border post!” Was that really what they just said? We had already been waiting over half an hour for some ‘newcomers’ at the UAE / Oman border near Al Ain, still had a long way to go, and they were lost, despite maps and GPS coordinates! But finally we managed to meet up, and – as we were to find out later that day – it was well worth the wait, as Marinel and Elias turned out to be excellent cooks!
We took a few detours on our way to Wadi Damm to include some sightseeing. After heading a bit over an hour into Oman, we landed in the little town of Ibri where we decided to stop and try an authentic Omani restaurant. Well, actually we just wanted a quick curry, so we chose a little Pakistani place – OR1.2 for a main corse and more rice then you can eat! Afterwards we had a look at the fort and the nearby mud-brick ruins of the old village, then continued our way eastwards past the magnificent Bahla Fort to the famous AlHoota showcaves, where we managed to get on the last tour of the day.

Take your camels for a walk…

Finally we headed back into Wadi Damm, where we witnessed the local tradition of “walking the camels” by tying them to a pick-up truck (somehow this reminded me of Beverly Hills!?)
This time we knew the way to the campsite, so tents were quickly set up and after a great meal prepared by our new master-chefs, we enjoyed the view of countless stars under the clear sky – something you can never see in a light-polluted city like Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

The next day, some of us were off for more sight-seeing…

BEWARE: mother in law! ;)

….while three headed into the wild rock desert of Jebel Khawr. Sometimes you can find traces of an old path, but most of the time you just have to find a way as you go along.

Jebel Khawr

Vulture (?)
The longer we kept walking up the hills, the more vultures were sailing above us. They obviously didn’t know we were well prepared with plenty of water to survive. 🙂
When we stopped for lunch in the shade of a large boulder, we counted at least eleven of these giant birds, and they were getting closer and closer – what an amazing view!

About half way up the mountain we reached a large plateau with terraced fields and a few old shelters. Most of them had collapsed, but one was still standing…

Shelter on the way to Jebel Khawr

Old clothes

What looked like a chaotic pile of wood from the outside was actually a well built, comfortable little hut on the inside.
Buried under a lot of dust and rubble, we discovered some colourful old clothes and quite a few “household items” – a plate, several bottles of varying sizes and a big clay pot – probably still in use just a generation ago.

Old pots and storage items

Into the sunset…

Soon it was time to head back down. The colours of the evening sun turned the previously gray rock desert into an amazing orange landscape. The short days of December meant that we had not too much time before the sun went down, but we were prepared with a few headlamps and knew where we had left the car, so it wasn’t a big problem to get back after darkness.

Long way down

The best shower ever! The high tem- peratures during the day meant that we had been sweating a lot, so we were not looking forward to crawl into our sleeping bags like that. However, back at the car we realised we had parked directly under the best shower in the world – the pipe for filling water tankers had a simple valve reachable from the roof of the car, and with a water temperature of ~25C we couldn’t resist…

For the next day we planned a shorter, easier hike to the famous pools of Wadi Damm.

Campsite Wadi Damm

As we started from the campsite, we met another group of people looking for the way – two families from Spain and Singapore.

…along the falaj…

…past the dam… We made our way along the falaj wall to the dam and then followed the path up on the side of the valley.
This was the first hike for Florian, our youngest Alpine-Club member. He really enjoyed it – so many new impressions!
Even waking up in the light blue tent earlier that day had been sooo fascinating for him. And there was still a lot more to see, hear smell and feel in this gorgeous wadi.

…through the hole… The next highlight on way the was this “hole” – a 2m climb through some very polished rocks.
We first assisted a group of French students climbing down (they were already on their way back to the cars), then we passed all the kids – and everybody else – up a “human chain”. The rope we had brought along made the task of getting a large group of short people through a bit easier.

…up the valley.

With so many things to look at – running water, towering canyon walls, some trees, geckos, and loads of little climbs, it was a real adventure for the kids!

Refreshing pools!

Just jump! When we finally arrived at the main pool, we took a refreshing bath. The water temperature was just about 19C, so it took some people a bit longer to get in than others! Maybe they were a bit spoilt from the warm shower experience the night before?

Then we went on to explore the source of the water – a large cave a little bit up-stream:

The “spring” cave

Mouse-tailed bats The cave was full of cute mouse-tailed bats, flapping around our heads. You can walk in one of the tunnels for a little while, until it gets too narrow. It’s not very pleasant, as it is a bit smelly thanks to all the bats, and the temperature in these caves is much hotter than what we are used to from European caves – the temperature just represents the average annual outside temperature.

Cave monsters!

the way back With all the “cave monsters” safely back from the depths of mother earth, we headed back down the wadi. Sliding down the “hole” was faster than going up, and we even found some rock carvings on a boulder, which we hadn’t noticed on the way up, so in no time we were back at the campsite after a truly memorable day.
The crowd

Heading back to the Emirates, we included a few more sight-seeing stops. There are hundreds of pre-historic graves on the hills on the way to Bat.

Pre-historic graves

A few towers in Wadi Damm give a good impression of the old mud-brick architecture of the area.

Tower in wadi dam

And we also came across an other magnificent fort in a small village near Yanqil (North of Dank). No idea why this is not mentioned in any guidebook – it looks much better than a lot of the small forts along the coast!

Fort near Yanqil
If you know the name of the place, please leave a comment on this page – it unfortunately has no name on the map.

Fodder for the animals
It’s a typical quiet little oasis village, where you can probably get a good impression what life in the countryside used to be:
small fields between the palm gardens, traditional falaj systems and small houses in between.
The obvious differences are the electricity pylons – and that now everyone has mobile phones!


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One Response to “Jebel Khawr & Wadi Damm”

  1. Marinel De Abreu said

    It all begun when we were searching the net when we came across this interesting website!

    Intrigued and looking for our first experience of camping outdoors since arriving in the UAE a few years ago, we contacted them…
    Half expecting not to receive a response, we were shocked to receive an almost instant response from Tom who gladly signed us up to the group, even though we were amateurs!

    With enthusiasm and child-like curiosity, we ran out that very same evening we received the email confirming a weekend trip, to buy our tent and camping equipment. And then all we could do is wait in anticipation for the start of, what was to become, an adventure and weekend we will never forget….

    It was the start of the long weekend and the start of our camping adventure! The Day had finally arrived…
    As we headed along Al Ain road and towards the Oman border to meet Tom and Katrin, a couple we had never met before!, we were clouded with doubt to whether we had made the right decision. As we neared the boarder, so our adrenaline kicked in!

    As we approached the boarder, there was Tom and Katrin, waiting patiently for our appearance. We were filled with guilt as we had gotten lost on the way and had arrived an hour late to meet our camping companions… but as we approached Tom and Katrin, their warmth, hospitality and kindness was not deterred and we instantly felt welcomed and relaxed.

    So our journey began… (read about it above) …definitely a story that we will tell our children one day:)
    Bring it on Tom! We are ready for the next challenge!

    Marinel & Elias

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