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One of the most serene locations to enjoy a BBQ and relax amid wetland flora after a challenging drive, but there’s another reason why Shaquel al Balushi did a repeat. And that’s to shake off the jitters.
Facing your fears is the first step towards growing up.” Before you look that quote up on the internet, I must tell you that I just made it up; it’s a Shaquel special for you readers. In any case, there’s a reason why I said that: my Destination this week covers a location that gives me the jitters.
Well, if you remember my story about Wadi Qalhat from three years ago, you would not lose sight of the fact that it was one of the first times I had ever headed off the road and into the wild in a SUV. Needless to say, I had made a hash of things and got my friend’s SUV marooned atop a large rock! Of course we have managed to patch up our friendship, but my fear of Wadi Qalhat has remained.
So, taking the decision to head there again was quite a tough one, but I knew I had to do it to get over my anxieties. To make matters worse, I had to make this week’s trip in my cousin’s SUV.
I began the (lonely) trip at the break of dawn – at 4am – as always. From my house in Al Amerat, I took the road to Sur. The board to Wadi Qalhat lies en route – and you wouldn’t miss it. I reached the wadi in about an hour and 30 minutes.
Scouring the location, I could see the rock I had beached my friend’s SUV on. I decided to stay away from it and head in from the side. I made sure to keep the vehicle on all fours for as long as I could, and kept the differential locked and the gearbox in low range for added traction.
This is something you must keep in mind. It’s best to have your vehicle moving at all times; inertia can bog you down and leave you stranded. And the fact that Wadi Qalhat is peppered with large boulders and pebbles makes it all a bit more hard.
Unlike my last trip there, I was alone this time, meaning that I had to make sure to keep myself safe. So, I didn’t venture too deep into the wadi. Remember, I had to make a round-trip.
Still, I pushed the SUV until it could take no more. The rocks became too tough to navigate and I was bouncing over the bumpy terrain than riding over it.
The next part of the journey I completed like it was intended to be: on foot. I climbed over the tall rocks to capture some stunning photos. Unlike last time, there wasn’t much water in the wadi, but this should change post the winter rains.
I could see the tiny caves that were carved out by the water that slowly eroded the rock surfaces. This also showed the path taken by the water, and you could use that as a reference when choosing your location for camping.
Wadi Qalhat has to be one of the most serene locations for a barbeque. The clear waters should make way for a place to relax after a long day of trekking, and the quiet and peaceful surroundings would add to the overall atmosphere.
Also complementing the setting was the flora. The tiny purple flowers that caught my eye last time were still there, only in lesser concentration than before. Still, I took time to admire the symmetry of the petals.
The route down to Sur is a gold mine of wadis and beaches and there is so much to explore beyond old favourites like Wadi Shab and the Bimmah sinkhole. But something about Qalhat calls out to me; I guess that’s what having the Stockholm Syndrome feels like.
HOW TO GET THERE
Wadi Qalhat is easily visible on the way to Sur. Take Route 17 from Muscat all the way past Wadi Shab. There will be a sign for Qalhat Heritage Village, with the beach on one side and the wadi on the other, carving an obvious path between the mountains.
GPS Location of Wadi Qalhat: N22º 41’ 39.938”; E59º 22’ 5.624”