Y Magazine

Destination Oman: Yiqa – A perfect spot for camping

With a burning desire to explore a new place, but without any idea of what or where it is, Shaquel al Balushi hits the Muscat Expressway and stumbles upon a spot perfect for everything: off-roading, trekking, or camping

The yearning to head someplace new and unexplored has been burning inside of me for quite a while. Keen readers would know that I have been revisiting – and reminiscing about – areas that I had been to before. But, as they say, there are always new things to see and experience.

I’ll stick to the topic, though. Last week, I completely exhausted my Destination bank – meaning that I had no idea of a place to visit. I just picked up my trusty Google Maps – named Imran – and headed straight out of the city for a session of exploring.

We picked the Muscat Expressway for the journey – in our borrowed off-road-ready SUV – and ploughed straight on. It was probably late morning by the time we reached someplace recognisable, and took the next left out so that we could explore someplace fascinating.

Imran suggested we head to Yiqa – a beautiful town in the midst of greenery and nestled safely between the Al Batinah mountains.

We only had one problem: neither of us knew how to get there. So, we did what any explorer would do; go against each other’s advice (pun intended). Imran, in true fashion, stuck to his instincts – which are mostly astoundingly accurate; while I decided to locate the route using my iPhone.

This put us in a limbo. We were both asking to split up in different directions. After a few minutes of friendly debating, though, I decided to take Imran’s route.

This saw us traversing tall mountain rocks (in the SUV, obviously), tree-infested paths and damp lands for an hour or so. Because we weren’t getting anywhere, we decided to ask directions to the first person we stumbled upon.

He jestingly told us that we were in the complete opposite direction, and had to head all the way back, or trek across a diagonal route, to save a few minutes.

Score: Shaquel 1; Imran 0

Nevertheless, we reached our spot after 30-odd minutes of (banter-filled) driving but was soon brought to a silence by the sheer beauty of the location. We had reached Yiqa.

The two of us simply split in different directions to explore the lands, and quickly found out that the location is perfect for any activity that pleases you. The lands are uneven enough for off-road enthusiasts, challenging for trekkers and hikers, and placid for camping.

It’s truly amazing and beyond what my words can describe. I guess this is one of those instances where my photographs will have to do all the talking.

The trees around the place made way for some striking photos. As you could see here, it looked like I was in paradise. This was much the feeling while I trekked up the mountain.

The temperature stood at a meagre 26°C, and the strong breeze made us feel like it was much below that. I was shivering throughout my expedition, which made snapping                                                                  photos especially difficult.

After a few more minutes of exploring, we struck gold (figuratively). We came across a patch of land – which is mostly in ruins now – that seemed to hold some historical importance in Oman.

Imran and I discussed about it and concluded that it was indeed the ruins of the “Omaras” – who were local tribal influencers of their times. Please do not mistake them for your local social media influencers; think of them as the leader of a pack who sustained his people.

These influencers were often linked to the sustenance of their tribes and was also the spokesperson of the group to the local leaders of the land. I guess I could say they were the “ministers” of their times.

I quickly took photographs of the ruins before trying to imagine how life would have been back then. Perhaps much simpler – since technology hadn’t snagged their lives yet. I’m not implying that life was easier then, but how it must have been a lot more systematised.

And just as I thought that, I looked at Imran, and burst out in a fit of laughter. He and his instincts, I tell you.

More adventures of Shaquel and Imran are coming up in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

How to get there?

Take the Muscat Expressway and head towards Rustaq. Keep following the road until you reach the end of the Expressway. From there, head left and follow the road to Al Qabil. Once you reach the roundabout it’s best to ask people for directions or switch on your maps and input these coordinates.

Coordinates:   23°22’52.7”N; 57°12’00.9”E