Despite the early morning journey, which started at about 7am from Amerat, I was really excited on this trip of mine, because the place I was venturing to was entirely different to my usual Destination locations. It was a nature reserve, so I was expecting to see some creatures out there in the wild and exercise some of my slightly rusty wildlife photography skills.
Accompanying me was Y’s intern, Shamsa al Mahrooqi, who also joined me to shoot Pebble Beach last week, and from what it looked like, she seemed to be enjoying the trips.
We reached the reserve a little more than 30 minutes later and came across a large blue board, giving instructions about the Sareen Nature Reserve and the protected area, that lay ahead of us. It said that visitors cannot hunt or carry weapons in the area, and that no archeological evidence could be removed from the park. Before we could enter the park and explore further, we had to contact a Royal Office and seek permission.
After the formalities, we drove a little farther down the gravelled path and parked our cars. We decided it would be best to take a four-wheel drive vehicle past this point, but as both Shamsa and I drive saloon cars, we completed the rest of the journey on foot, despite the scorching heat.
We were geared up for the walk and it started well, however, we soon grew thirsty and tired because of the intense temperature. This is why I advise everyone to visit the reserve when the mercury starts to drop, at which time it will be a brilliant destination.
About halfway down the path, we encountered a Bedouin family, who greeted Shamsa and I in a customary fashion. They were very kind and asked if we were lost or looking for something in particular. A little later on, we saw a dilapidated house, which we assumed belonged to the Bedouin family but couldn’t be sure.
We soon came to a crossroads and decided to turn right and I’m glad we did. Although I don’t know what lay down the other path, we saw lots of large rocks in different textures and colours on our way, most of which had a distinctive copper or bronze hue. The mountains had a different texture as well; some of them were large and blocky in shape with smooth textures and others looked more like a collection of loose stones put together.
While we were walking, I was plagued by the thought that we hadn’t seen any animals yet. The board outside had mentioned “wild animals”, and this was what had originally attracted me to the reserve, but as yet whatever creatures may call the place home were being decidedly reclusive.
Luckily, a few minutes later we spotted some donkeys and my hopes were reignited, but sadly that was to be the extent of our Omani safari. I was disappointed, but we concluded that it might be due to the heat.
One very unique thing we noticed was a nabq tree, which is mentioned in a Hadith (saying) of the Prophet Muhammed and is also described in the Quran. The fruit of this tree is very useful in helping with digestion as well as several other ailments.
What really caught my eye was that while many of the trees in the area were almost dead, this one was lush green and thriving. I found the resilience of this tree impressive and was amazed that it could survive such extreme conditions while the surrounding vegetation wilted and turned an almost brown colour.
I will definitely go back to this reserve sometime towards the end of the year, when the weather is pleasant enough for trekking. Next time, I’ll be determined to see quite a bit more of the promised wildlife.
From Muscat, take Route 17 through Amerat, exiting at the Phase II roundabout (second exit). Continue straight for 8km until you reach a T-junction. Turn left here and the road should lead you directly to the nature reserve.
GPS location: N 23° 20’ 45.207” E 58° 23’ 7.528”