Oman offroad tour from Muscat to Salalah

As foreplay for the next diving safari my dive buddy and I decided to add a roadtrip from Muscat to Salalah.
So we booked a 5 day offroad trip including hotels after each day and a Toyota Landcruiser, sporting a cage and a modified gearbox. Having an organised tour was unnecessary, as we found out soon. You can rent a 4 wheel drive by yourself and to keep the budget low you can go camping, which is allowed everywhere in Oman. I definitely would recommend that, as it’s an additional great experience, adds some more adventure to the tour and you get rid of the time pressure to reach a certain place.
For orientation and tour suggestions I can recommend this guide: “Oman Offroad” [This link contains my Amazon Id so I get possible sales rewarded.], which features satellite images of the tours, GPS coordinates and descriptions of nearby attractions.

First day we were hopping around in Muscat, visiting the grand Sultan al Qaboos Mosque, the opera house, Muttrah souk and the old town of Muscat.

Sultan Al Qaboos Grand Mosque

Sultan Al Qaboos Grand Mosque

Muscat oldtown

Muscat oldtown

Next day we hit the road and left Muscat in direction Ras al Hadd via Sur. The first offroad detour we took was up the hills down to Wadi Al Arbeieen (or Arbiyyin)*:

Wadi passage

Offroad Oman: track to Wadi Al Arbeieen

This was a good first turn as we only had theoretical knowledge of how-to-move a 4by4 in terrain.
The track here was not much of a challenge, no surprise dromedaries behind a curve, no wobbly tracks and no material eating passages. The track lead through deep valleys with impressive rock formations.

Wadi Al Arbeieen

Almost like a creek in the Bavarian Alps

Wadi Al Arbeieen

These crystal clear waters invited to have a swim, but we hit the road again.

Then we decided to skip the Bimma Sinkhole, which was a good choice according the time as we noticed at the end of the day!

Offroad Oman: Coastline near Bammah

Offroad Oman: Coastline near Bammah

We went on to UmQ al Rubakh, a small village at the end of an impressive canyon:

Canyon near Umq Al Rubakh

Canyon near Umq Al Rubakh

detour from the track to Umq Al Rubakh

A little detour from the track to Umq Al Rubakh, we just had to drive for the fun of it!

The riverbed at Umq Al Rubakh

The riverbed at Umq Al Rubakh

After that we thought it would be a good idea to take the tour to the Salma plateau in addition. It really was. But the difficulty level significantly rose.
First there was a reaaally steep ascent up to the plateau, but the Toyota was climbing it up bravely, as Chris Sharma would have done.
While we climbed up from sea level to 1700 m we passed small lovely villages with goat herds strolling around and dived directly into the clouds that stuck around the mountains. On the plateau itself the clouds dissolved and letting the sun create a marvelous atmoshere of light and shadow.

Great play of light and shadow

Great play of light and shadow on the way up to the Salma plateau on 1700m

In the cloud

When we entered the couds all of a sudden it became quite dark and cold

The Salma Plateau

Then as fast as it when dark, as we entered the plateau it was all shiny again!

The Salma Plateau

The clouds hanging over the mountain ridge were just beautiful

The Salma Plateau

Near the Salma plateau you can find the famous Majliss al Jinn (meeting place of the ghosts) cave

Until here it was all fun and games, then the trip should become challenging: First we lost our track, as there was quite a maze of tracks, but after several attempts we could agree on a  track. Soon after we gained some confidence again the path got more and more narrow and finally lead via a 45°+ descent in a Wadi surrounded by steep walls of rock. My buddy got a little nervous then as there was absolutely no recognizable track anymore, only large sized round gravel and we ran out of time. I did my best to calm him down, so I totally forgot to take pictures of this stunning passage through the riverbed! (Need to come back there!) So we got his definition of offroad driving enhanced and he made the way out of the wadi with new confidence in his own and the Toyotas capabilities.
Then we headed all the 1700m down to the coast again and pushed for Wadi Tiwi before it would get dark.
Wadi Tiwi is a very nice place, usually it is quite crowded, as we reached it very late hardly any other people were there and we could drive the narrow roads throught the village to the end of the road. But one should go there without pressure and explore it by foot, as you can explore its beauty way better and its a good hike. Unfortunately it got to dark down in the wadi to get proper images.

After a short break we hit road 17 again in direction to Sur and onwards to Ras Al Hadd and its famous turtle beaches.
We arrived quite exhausted at 21:30 o’clock at our hotel.

* The location will differ from map to maps you are using, as foreign maps use transcripted names by sound. So the names on signs, GMaps, roadmaps and OpenStreet maps will differ. Another reason to learn Arabic…

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