Shaquel al Balushi spends a weekend camping at the Khadda Beach with friends where he finds clear, starry skies and stunning landscapes.
I was looking forward to this particular weekend. Eight of us were going camping at Khadda Beach, near the famous turtle reserve at Ras Al Hadd. The plan was to leave by midday but by the time we were ready and packed, it was already 4.30pm.
We set off in a convoy of three cars. Ras Al Hadd, without any traffic on the roads, is about a two-and-a half to three-hour drive away. But unfortunately, the sun set while we were still driving and we were unfamiliar with the roads.
Of course, as is the case with pretty much all of my Destinations, we got lost. There were no streetlights and it was difficult to get our bearings. But a kind villager at Ras Al Hadd helped us to find Khadda Beach and we finally arrived at 10.45pm! So much for that two-and-a-half to three-hour drive!
As we pulled up to our campsite, we spotted a turtle in the distance laying eggs, and then we noticed many of them.
It was just after 2am by the time we had unpacked, put up our tents and prepared something to eat. I wasn’t sleepy at all and wanted to do a night shoot of the bright, starry sky.
It was a beautiful, clear night and there were millions of bright stars twinkling above us. I caught a shooting star as it shot across the starlit sky. I was hoping to get some clear shots of the Milky Way but it was too late. In the end, I caught a few winks of sleep in my car as I wanted to be awake for sunrise and was hoping the turtles would still be on the beach.
The sunrise was beautiful and the turtles had gone but that was OK. I sat on the sand and enjoyed the sound of the early morning waves breaking gently on the shore. It was 6am and the golden hues of the sun broke through the dawn, lighting up the beach and the sea in soft pastels while the surrounding cliffs came to life, rising out of the shadows as though to greet the warmth of the morning rays.
I walked along the beach capturing a variety of daily life – from seabirds to small crabs racing sideways across the sand.
We discovered some amazing rocks covered in beautiful green moss while I caught some fishermen launching their boat to head out to sea to capture that morning’s catch.
Finally, my friends woke up and we had breakfast and decided to go swimming. The water was quite cold and a little rough but it was a great way to start the morning and to cool down.
A couple of my friends wanted to go fishing to catch some lunch but they never seem to have any luck on our camping trips. Despite this, they headed to a quiet spot on the beach and cast their lines into the water. And for the first time, they actually caught something – an octopus. It was a good size but we took it home with us to give to a friend who had just been released from hospital and couldn’t come camping with us.
I have two favourite photographs of this trip: the shooting star in the starlit sky and an early morning photo I took of another photographer as he was surrounded by the swirling waters of the sea and the green, mossy rocks behind him.
It had been a long day and it was time to pack up before having our traditional “group” coffee to celebrate our time together. It had been a fun weekend away with my friends but also exhausting – and at least we didn’t get lost on the way home!
[styled_box title=”How To Get There” color=”black”]
Take route 17 from Muscat and drive towards Sur. Once you reach Sur, follow the signs to Ras Al Hadd. Instead of going left to the main Ras Al Hadd reserve, take the right turn at the T-junction. It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour to three-hour drive but make sure you do it in daylight in case you get lost.
N 22°20’49.6”, E 59°47’54.1”