Offroad Oman 2013: Day 4 – Turtles, Sur, Wadi Tiwi, Sink Hole

“This is nature….”

3.10am.

We woke up reluctantly as if our eye lids hung with a kg of dumbbells. But show must go on; we’re so excited. I guessed we were one of the only few guests of this hotel opted for Turtle Watching at 4am. The road was so quiet and dark as we started to drive to Ras Al Jinz, 22km away. Less than 20min after we arrived at the reserve. We’re instructed to be here at 3.45am yet no one was available at 3.35am. It wasn’t until 4am that the reserve staff was available. Slowly the reception hall was filled with participants. A group of three families were seen arrived without prior booking advised that booking was full. Nevertheless they were instructed to wait.

I understand from turtle watching tour review that there will normally be three groups at each session. Each session can accommodate up to 100 people. Hotel guests (Ras Al Jinz provides accommodation; but gets easily fully booked) are given the first priority. As part of their room fare, they can choose to participate in two tours without additional fee.

We waited and waited and started to be restive when the time showed 4.30am. Yet, no instruction given to gather. Until….

“Good morning ladies and gentleman. Thank you for your interest in turtle watching and be patient with us. Apologize for delay. Our staff have tried their best twice to find turtles but unfortunately they are not available. This is nature and beyond our control.”

Oh my…..this wait’s over. My boys couldn’t hide their disappointment. But he is right, this is nature and beyond our control. Shall we make an appointment hi green turtles?

During our visit to Turtle Museum a day before we come to know that the best and peak egg laying (nesting) season for green turtle is during the summer months of July and August. During this period we may expect great numbers of turtles.

At Ras Al Jinz Turtle Nature reserve - waiting for Turtle Watching
At Ras Al Jinz Turtle Nature reserve – waiting for Turtle Watching
Green Turtle at Ras Al Jinz (Source: Wikipedia)
Green Turtle at Ras Al Jinz (Source: Wikipedia)

Ras Al Jinz Turtle Nature Reserve: N 22°25’33.0″ E059°49’38.0″

Turtle Beach Resort

This resort is one of the options if Ras Al Jinz accommodation is fully booked. Other alternative will be Ras Al Hadd Holiday (across the bay) or further up in Sur (40km away). Although the resort bears a name of Turtle Beach – and this is misleading – no turtles are coming to this beach. I think they are taking an advantage from the famous turtle watching tour in Ras Al Jinz.

The resort, anyway, provides a standard quality accommodation. There are options of shared bathroom or en-suite bathroom. All options gives half-board facility with dinner provided at restaurant and breakfast at their meeting hall. What they call a beach is basically a less than 100m beach situated at Khawr al Hajar (a quiet lagoon in Ras Al Hadd). At the time of our visit, unfortunately, the beach was full with jelly-ball like marine organism that it became unusable for swimming. I provided a quite lengthy review in booking.com for the resort.

A short strip of beach at Turtle Beach Resort - Ras Al Hadd
A short strip of beach at Turtle Beach Resort – Ras Al Hadd
Turtle Beach Resort
Turtle Beach Resort
Turtle Beach Resort
Turtle Beach Resort
A typical room at Turtle Beach Resort
A typical room at Turtle Beach Resort
Social media victims :)
Social media victims 🙂
Dinner at Turtle Beach Resort
Dinner at Turtle Beach Resort
Turtle Beach Resort at night
Turtle Beach Resort at night

Turtle Beach Resort: N 22°31’49.9″ E059°45’14.5″

Official Site: http://www.tbroman.com/index.aspx

Booking.com: http://www.booking.com/hotel/om/turtle-beach-resort.en.html

 

Sur

We checked out from Turtle Beach Resort and headed to Muscat via Sur. Muscat is about 200km from Sur through East Coast Highway. Sur is a quiet town surrounds the ancient harbor. Highlights of Sur are shipbuilding yard, and dhow museum. We didn’t visit the museum and yard though; instead we took a driving tour encircling the inlet as well as to north corniche area where Sur Beach Hotel is located. From here, the road is connected to Sur – Qurayyat Highway and then Qurayyat – Muscat Highway.

A bridge that links Sur and Al Ayjah
A bridge that links Sur and Al Ayjah
A view across Sur lagoon from the bridge. On your right is dhow building yard
A view across Sur lagoon from the bridge. On your right is dhow building yard
Sur inlet to Sea of Oman
Sur inlet to Sea of Oman
Fatah al Khyr, a fine example of a ghanjah,  one of the largest classes of seagoing dhows
Fatah al Khyr, a fine example of a ghanjah, one of the largest classes of seagoing dhows

Dhowyard: N 22°33’43.0″ E059°32’12.0″

Dhow Museum (Fatah Al Khyr Yard): N 22°33’40.0″ E059°31’53.0″

Wadi Tiwi

From Sur, we continue driving northwardly on Sur – Qurayyat Highway passing Oman LNG, and ancient town of Qalhat. About 40km from Sur we arrived at Wadi Tiwi. We turned off from the highway, drove under the bridge and up the wadi. The initial sections of Wadi Tiwi are concrete paved in a wide good road. As soon as it enters the village of Harat Bidah, the road climbs steeply and the pavement ends. We couldn’t resist take a plunge into crystal clear water amidst green plantation and the surrounding rocky mountain.

Now we had a story here. As we tried to go further up the wadi we entered the village. Seemed like I took a wrong turn. Instead of going left, I was going straight. This led to a dead end and I couldn’t either move up or down from this one-vehicle wide road; blocked by parked cars and constrained by a ravine on the left and a wall on the right. Fortunately, Omani people are so humble and nice. Knowing our difficulty they tried to manage us to go back by manoeuvring parked cars in very tight spaces. We’re finally relieved and ready to go back to the right route when one pick-up was coming into our direction. Upps.

The pick up insisted to move forward and gave a code to passing him. I thought what? How come. The driver was actually driving his car almost near to the ravine and left both our cars just an inch to pass. Not really an inch as I heard a screeching sound when I tried to squeeze and pull  my car from this passing. I stopped but it seemed like the pickup driver continued pulling his car. Oh my…the screeching sound became louder and I could only resign to the situation.

We found out later that better than what we expected, it left only a little mark; peeled off paint on rear door handle.

We left Wadi Tiwi with a bad mood and decided not to continue the adventurous route up the wadi. We even missed our plan to go to Wadi Shab just 2.5km apart. Wadi Shab has more spectacular geographical location and background. Ahh…

Highway Bridge at the entrance to Wadi Tiwi
Highway Bridge at the entrance to Wadi Tiwi
The road to Wadi Tiwi
The road to Wadi Tiwi
Can't resist of crystal clear water
Can’t resist of crystal clear water
Lush plantation and rocky landscape
Lush plantation and rocky landscape

Wadi Ash Shab Car Park: N 22°50’21” E 59 14’46”

Wadi Tiwi (entrance near the bridge): N 22°49’24” E 59 15’34

Sink Hole

Bimmah Sinkhole (40mx60m app.) is a deep natural depression filled with water, called Hawiyat Najm. The (Hawiyat Najm) park is situated in the Dabab area of Wilayat Qurayat, Muscat Governorate, and can be reached via the road linking Qurayat to Sur. The park is dotted with palm trees and several gazebos; a great place to stop and have lunch – as we did.

A short walk from the parking area leads to the sinkhole. A low wall is provided around the sinkhole to keep the visitors at bay. Unlike in Qatar, the sinkhole here is filled with salty water due to its connection with open sea 500m away. It is a quite deep water but that doesn’t prevent some visitors to take a plunge. Who can’t resist vibrant turquoise water in a quite hot day? I can 🙂 Many people seen swimming, jumping from height and diving.

A visit to Sink Hole closed our trip across East Coast.

Hawiyat Najm Park where Bimmah Sink Hole is located at
Hawiyat Najm Park where Bimmah Sink Hole is located at
At Bimmah Sink Hole
At Bimmah Sink Hole
Sink Hole - view towards background mountain
Sink Hole – view towards background mountain
Who can resist to take a plunge to vibrant turquoise water?
Who can resist to take a plunge to vibrant turquoise water?
Google Earth view of Sink Hole. The hole is connected to the sea 550m away
Google Earth view of Sink Hole. The hole is connected to the sea 550m away

Sink Hole Turnoff: N 23°02’29.0″ E059°04’23.0″

Sink Hole Car Park:N 23°02’12.5″ E059°04’12.7″

Ruwi View Point

We took a detour to Ruwi View Point on the way to our hotel, Midan Hotel Suites. The view point offers a sweeping view of Ruwi and Wadi Al Khabir. This can accessed from Yiti Street and follows a 1km rough offroad. There is a small parking area before the stairs leading to top view point. The last section of offroad can be a tricky due to its steep climbing and presence of small slippery stones.

Access to Ruwi View Point
Access to Ruwi View Point
Offroad section of Ruwi View Point
Offroad section of Ruwi View Point
Stairs to Ruwi View Point
Stairs to Ruwi View Point
View of Ruwi and Wadi Al Khabir from lower part of view point
View of Ruwi and Wadi Al Khabir from lower part of view point

Turnoff Ruwi View Point: N 23°33’22.0″ E058°34’05.0″

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2 thoughts on “Offroad Oman 2013: Day 4 – Turtles, Sur, Wadi Tiwi, Sink Hole”

    1. Yes I drove a 4WD. You may use non4WD but you’ll have limited option to venture deep into the wadi

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