Amid weather warnings and heavy rains, Shaquel al Balushi went on an atmospheric off-road adventure just south of his home in Amerat
With a severe weather warning issued for the coast and the heavy rains around Quriyat forecast to move north as Ashobaa threatened to rear its head, I decided to explore the area close to where I live for my most recent destination. Logically, it was the safest option, allowing me to retreat home in case the weather should take a turn for the worse.
Just south of Amerat, close to Madinat al Nahdha, is an area that has become fondly known as “Chicago” among those who live in the area.
Driving right through Oman’s answer to the Windy City and continuing on for around 10km, the houses and shops to either side of me became sparser before finally disappearing altogether. As the blacktop road gave way to a stoney track, I parked my car to explore the vicinity on foot.
The sky was completely covered with flat grey clouds and there was quite a strong wind blowing. You could tell something big was brewing.
Thankfully, the rain stayed in the heavens during my visit and the cloud coverage, cool temperatures and bracing wind made a pleasant change, with most of my Destination trips taking place under the intense Omani sun. However, because I was trekking with my camera bag and all the related paraphernalia, I still worked up quite a sweat.
After the road ended, I carried on slightly further before deciding to walk down an obvious track that appeared to my left.
The whole area around me was very barren and desolate and the landscape was almost lunar, with long stretches of flat ground punctuated by jagged mountains every now and again.
It was all strangely beautiful in its peacefulness and the only living creatures I saw during my visit were a single donkey and a goat. The donkey didn’t seem too fussed, but the goat gave me some serious attitude while I photographed him, as if I had no right to encroach on his territory.
It was the formation of rocks that fascinated me in particular. They were multi-layered and incredibly structured, looking almost volcanic, but I guess their appearance comes from the water that would have washed over them at some point. Although it was flat and dry where I was, I know that when it rains, the whole area becomes flooded with water.
The landscape was a lovely deep colour, although it was hindered slightly by what us photographers call “flat” clouds, in that they have no life or fluffiness, nor do they allow blue sky to peek through.
I know of a photographer who once cancelled an entire shoot, just because the clouds weren’t to his liking. Nevertheless, I attempted to capture the depth of the mountains that towered before me and think I just about succeeded.
I managed to get some detailed shots of fallen rocks and some dry, twisted deadwood that had blown across the stark landscape before climbing one of the nearby mountains to get a few close up shots of the intricate detail of the rocks and the thousands of years of history that they contain.
It’s a very interesting path for an experienced off-roader as, according to my friends, you can pick your way through the mountains all the way through to another wadi on the other side of Amerat that is popular with campers.
I’d recommend visiting this area if you’re in search of some extreme off-road adventures, as it offers the perfect place for anyone wishing to push their driving skills, test the ability of their car and discover new places. Just watch out for the goats.
How to get there:
From Muscat take road 17 and come off at the exit for Amerat Phase Three. Turn left at each of the two roundabouts you encounter and continue straight until the road ends.
GPS location: N23° 20’ 45” E58° 23’ 8”