As you know from my Destination feature last week (issue 418), I struggled to get to the Kbaikab Graveyard after encountering bizarre car troubles on the way, as well as an eerie feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
Everything started out smoothly enough last week, but about six or seven kilometres after making the turn-off to the graveyard, my Jeep Wrangler, which I’d borrowed from my cousin, suddenly overheated – and continued to do so every time I tried to travel further up the incredibly steep incline.
This week, however, I was determined to succeed and my friend, Imran, was with me. I was quite scared on my solo trip the week before, so was very relieved that I wasn’t doing this alone again.
We had plenty of drinking water and even coolant for the engine in case there were problems again. We left my home in Amerat at 6am and took Route 17 towards Sur. We reached the sign for the graveyard and turned off, passed under the bridge and again drove over the mud and cement track that wound its way up the steep incline.
It was nearing 8am and we had reached the same spot where the car first broke down last week. It was already hot – about 30 degrees Celsius – but can you believe it? We broke down again – exactly where I was forced to pull over the previous Thursday! Imran laughed when I told him where we were and he started making fun of me.
We had to wait for about 30 minutes for the car to cool down, but less than 2km down the road and the engine started overheating again. This was beginning to feel a bit like déjà vu, only this time, instead of feeling scared, I was getting angry. We poured the coolant into the radiator, as well as our precious drinking water, and waited another hour before driving on again.
Imran, on the other hand, was staying cool and calm. By this time, he was driving as we were on one of the most dangerous roads I had ever experienced before. It was incredibly steep and had many curves to negotiate. There are no safety barriers or nets to prevent large rocks from falling. It requires courage to drive on this road and it needs a person who is a calm and very confident off-roader who can tackle these conditions.
We almost reached the top of this incline when the car overheated again – this was the third time now! Imran decided to walk the rest of the way to the top to see if there was a flat road or another steep incline while I stayed with the vehicle.
It is here that I lost my temper a little. I was waiting by the car and taking pictures and then decided to keep driving and catch up with Imran. But suddenly I couldn’t see him anymore – he’d completely disappeared. His phone was also in the car and I couldn’t call him.
I got to the top of the incline and the road flattened out but thankfully, Imran could see me and he got back into the car. We managed to drive another kilometre before the engine overheated again – it was though somebody was trying to tell us something.
As we waited for the engine to cool down, this gave me an opportunity to do some exploring and take some more photos.
The landscape surrounding us was incredibly dramatic and looking down over the valley floor, it seemed as though the earth had been ripped open by an earthquake from long ago. It’s not like a wadi at all, while the mountain chain looked as though it went on for infinity.
We saw a herd of chilled-out goats and then an old man stopped his car told us that we still had more than 20km of steep inclines to drive before we reached the graveyard. This was when we decided to throw in the towel and head home.
While the mountain range may have beaten us again this time, I am determined to make it back in the cooler months.
Next time, however, I’ll be going with a group of friends and taking at least two cars.
From Muscat, take Route 17 towards Sur. You’ll pass a brown road sign for the graveyard on the right. When you see a blue sign saying “Qur’ran 25km”, take the turn. Turn right under the bridge and follow the signs. It’s a straight road climbing up.
GPS location of Kbaikab Graveyard: N18.104.22.168” E22.214.171.124”