Y Magazine

Destination: No man’s land

Shaquel al Balushi stumbles upon a secret route that leads to the far corners of Rustaq, and finds an area perfect for trekking.



Rustaq has always been one of my favourite spots. It is home to one of the country’s largest forts – Rustaq Fort – and if you’ve been following my destination pieces long enough, you will know that I am an aficionado of forts around the Sultanate.

My latest location scout is very much in keeping with my love of Rustaq, except that it isn’t exactly in the heart of the wilayat.

In fact, I really don’t even know the name of the location.

I stumbled upon this spot during one of my trips around the fort when I saw a red sedan tracking its way across a rocky path away from the fort, which seemed quite unusual to me. 

Nobody who comes here simply drives away from the fort.

I just knew I had to find out where that route led to.

Accompanying me on my adventure is my friend, Hazam al Balushi, otherwise known as “The Head Man”.

Starting our journey fairly early, at 4am, we retraced our path to the location before reaching the final turn that would lead us to our hidden destination.

There were no boards or signs pointing to the location, so we had to be careful not to miss any turns.

Heading to Rustaq from Muscat, we passed Rustaq Fort and took the subsequent right turn towards the rocky path I had spotted earlier.

As usual, it was the trusty Jeep Wrangler doing all the hefty off-roading.

She coped pretty well with the rocks and small boulders, but it didn’t take us long to realise that we weren’t going to make it to the end of the road quickly.

The road is bone-jarring, with sharp rocks and hefty stones so progress was slow.

I suppose it wouldn’t have taken more than a minute or so to tread the same path had it been paved.

Everything seemed deserted. It was almost like a drive away from civilisation.

I was genuinely scared for my vehicle. It took us an agonising 30 minutes to get past the rocks and boulders. At the end of the road, a few villas came into view.  Surprisingly, the tenants here drive sedans.

But how on earth do cars tread past this route?  I guess it must be magic or perhaps there’s another route. However, we failed to find an alternative route that would take us back to Rustaq.

After reaching the end, we decided to camp for a little while.

I noticed that the sand was different from what we see around the country. It was black sand; almost like soil. I assumed it was quite fertile compared with the otherwise brown and dry sand from other Wilayats.

The sand was also a bit damp, which made walking around the flatlands a bit harder.

But I was a man on a mission: to click some good pictures.

It didn’t take me long to find my favourite picture. It was of the mountains gleaming in the morning sun.

The view was nothing short of spectacular. Layers of mountains could be seen overlapping one another, almost like an artist painting gradients in different hues.

I was amazed.

With its part-sandy and part-rocky terrain, I thought that this location could also serve as a training area for hikers and trekkers.

We didn’t delve into the mountains much because we weren’t dressed for the occasion. 

By the end, I had fallen in love with this place; it could serve as a picnic spot for friends and families. It’s well worth the bumpy, rock strewn ride to get there, though I would recommend a good 4×4 vehicle.

However, it wouldn’t be fair to ruin it simply for the sake of our leisure.