Shaquel al Balushi treads carefully around an area near a Bedouin enclave but finds it no less rewarding for all that.
How often do you set out to undertake a task and completely change your mind half-way through it? Well, frequently, right? At least, that has been the case with me, and many of my friends, family and colleagues.
Ever-changing plans are part and parcel of our lives, or so it seems.
Well, the reason I bring that up is because of my recent Destination trip. You see, after years of travelling around the Sultanate, looking out for places that I can visit to photograph for the magazine, I came across a dry patch.
I did not know where to go (!) No, really.
And after much time pondering a location that I could head to, I decided to take my Jeep and simply go for a long drive. My idea was that I would stumble upon someplace interesting on
There’s always something interesting to check out, here, in Oman. Believe me, I’m not hoodwinking.
But, it was on my way that I realised that I hadn’t been to Huqum for a few months. It is a beautiful location with some stunning mountain views and a relatively temperate climate (than the underlying capital city).
So, locked and loaded from the local store with adequate water and food supplies, I began my journey to the enchanting town of Huqum.
Fifteen-odd kilometres into my journey, however, I stumbled upon something I had never seen before. It was a board that pointed towards an ‘animal wildlife reserve’.
I never knew that it existed; and I thought it would be best to stop by the location, and scout for some wildlife while I was at it. Huqum then, was off my list of plans for the day.
The reserve was deserted and devoid of any human elements. The only way I could make out that I was heading down the right path was through the beaten down path that I was driving on.
Still, I persevered.
For the first hour or so of my journey, I didn’t come across anything interesting. It was just sand and mountains. But driving deeper revealed the wildlife that I was hoping to capture with my camera.
It wasn’t what you would get to see by veteran broadcaster and naturalist – David Attenborough – from the BBC’s award- winning show, The Life. But, it still was a start.
Capturing wildlife is difficult, especially when you’re exploring alone. You would need to camp for hours, with a camera crew set on multiple locations, to capture some stunning shots.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case, today.
I could spot a few donkeys and a flock of birds. The birds seemed like they were eagles, but were too swift for me to snap (sigh).
Driving farther, I came across footprints of another animal. Again, I couldn’t spot the animal at first. But as I drove down, I caught a glimpse of it hiding behind the bushes. It seemed like a jackal at first but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a sand cat.
However, golden jackals are quite common in this part of the world. Of late, though, they have been known to be hiding out in caves and other mountainous terrain to protect themselves from humans.
Speaking of humans, a few kilometres down the path, I came across an old, beaten down house. It would have been at the very least 30 years old.
But, fearing that I was intruding into the tenant’s personal space, I made a hasty retreat. I was also a tad afraid that I would be in trouble with them if I had inadvertently crossed into their domain.
Bedouins are known to be very protective of their homes, and it would be wise if you didn’t disturb them while travelling around the outskirts of Oman. Do note that this is also the case with Bedouins outside the country. But from my experience, those in Oman are actually very friendly and hospitable.
In any case, driving down further, I re-joined the highway that leads to Al Amerat. And, without haste, I drove back home armed with images of another location, and possibly a potential story for a future story on animal life, in Y.
My detour wasn’t so bad after all, right?
How to get there?
While heading from the capital, take the turn towards Al Amerat and proceed onwards to Huqum. En route -roughly 10kms into the journey -you will come across a board that points towards the wildlife reserve at Al Amerat. Make sure you are armed with adequate water and food supplies, and an SUV to take the nature’s beatings.
GPS location of the Al Amerat wildlife reserve:
23°20’33.1”N ; 58°22’54.9”E