Shaquel al Balushi makes a crossing that keeps his take on life on an even keel.
Photos: Shaquel Al Balushi; Words: Alvin Thomas
There is a beautiful saying that goes: “The best view comes after the hardest climb”. And of late, I have been meaning to put those words into action; that is, to seek and find the best after an enduring jaunt.
Granted, I always take back memories from the places I visit, and that’s also something I have my job to thank for. Not everyone is blessed with the opportunity to travel around their own country seeking spots of utter majesty.
But I’ve been looking to exert myself a bit, and go one step farther. And, that’s exactly what I managed to do this week.
It all started when my best-friend Imran – whom you should know of from my previous outings – came to me saying that he had traversed the Wadi of Al Khoud to reach the alluring village of Fanja.
I didn’t believe him, so I decided to give it a go and see where the path would take me.
Of course, I didn’t travel alone for this expedition, and because Imran had instilled this idea in me, I dragged him along, too. My cousin, Hanif – an off-road savant – joined us to keep an eye on proceedings.
We started our journey in the very early hours of the morning – 2.30am – to be precise. Everyone was asleep, and we thought it would be ideal to get a headstart on the day, you know, with us still hovering around the mid-summer month and all.
We decided to take two SUVs – both readied for extreme off-roading, and headed for Wadi al Khoud. The roads were silent and so was my SUV.
We had covered the former extensively, as it happens to be one of the most accessible wadis. However, I must say that Wadi al Khoud was quite dry when we got there.
In any case, we proceeded onwards to the heart of the wadi. It didn’t take us long to cross it after which we headed straight for the mountains that smeared the night sky like a classic painting. I don’t know why, but the image of The Starry Night by Van Gogh came to my mind as I stared into the horizon.
“Gorgeous, this sky is,” I remember Imran telling me.
I must also point out that the stars were simply magnificent. But because we had so much ground to cover we pulled our socks up and kept going.
In a few hours, we had hit the rocky terrains of the mountains. We found the going tough, especially because of the sharp, uncut rocks that were in our path.
Still, we kept on moving and managed to free ourselves from any tricky situations we found ourselves in, without any trouble. But, the perils kept on coming, and I remember thinking that we wouldn’t give up on our adventure no matter what came our way.
A tough saying, I know. But, we were men on a mission.
Hours went by, and by dawn, we had hit the first signs of another wadi. The dryness soon began to fade away, and the moist winds began to bluster onto our faces from our open windows… and also, our windows began fogging up.
That is when I stopped for a while to capture a few images. I couldn’t come across any wildlife, but I was sure that they were around. I could hear crickets and other insects chirping away.
It couldn’t have been more than a few kilometres, though, before we stumbled upon the heart of Wadi Fanja.
It was a visual treat as we saw water all around us. Without any haste, the three of us jumped into the wadi and gave ourselves some five-star treatment.
Who says you need to head to a hotel to go for a nice swim?
The wadi at Fanja had replenished itself after the recent rains that had flocked the outskirts of the country.
As soon as we were done with our swimming, we cracked open some crisps and sodas and celebrated our achievement. It is something not many people do, and definitely not something many can quite pull off.
With that in mind, we got onto the paved roads towards Fanja.
But, all three of us couldn’t quite adjust to the smooth road surfacing, and we soon found ourselves back on the dirt trail next to the road.
This region is off-roading heaven. And on a lighter note, we also got to test our car’s capabilities to the full potential. It was something I had always wanted to do.
And that brings me back to that quote I typed earlier. And to anyone who will ask me about if those words are true, I will hand a copy of this magazine, and tell them that if they have the willpower to achieve what they want, they can conquer anything. And you know what? That’s how you get to see the “best view”.
We started at Wadi al Khoud, en route to Rusayl. Head straight into it and aim for the mountains. Make sure you have a reliable 4×4 vehicle and are stocked on drinking water and snacks. Once you cross the mountains, you will hit the rocky terrain that leads to Wadi Fanja. Make sure you carve out the safest path.