Saturday, February 19, 2011

Into the Wild in Musandum, UAE's favourite weekend getaway

Ever wondered what is the eco-system in Arabia? How Bedouins lived in gulf of Arabia? How settlement is done in wadies & mountains or coasts? Then go to Musandum in Oman! Drive upto end of UAE upto Ras Al Khaima border & enter in this 'Beauty of Arabia'! All you get to see is sea, mountaines & wild arabia!

Musandum Peninsula has a very unique location. This is the farthest end of gulf of Arabia, right across the sea there is Iran at just 55km & in between comes the strait of Hormuz through which most of trade & oil ships pass from Gulf of Arabia. Musandum is covered by range of Hajar Mountains, which create the fjord, the cliffs plunging directly into the torqouise sea!

The best way is to camp on one of the beach amongst all those untouched beaches or rocky mountains. Of course we need to make sure that we are not leaving behind any garbage or disturbing this wild nature in any way!

Our Journey upto Khasab town was mesmerising! The curvy road from border upto Khasab town goes along the sea-coast & through mountain edges. You stop at any point and the riddle of Arabian ecosystem will be unleashed in front of you! The birds, the fishes, sheeps & goats, sand, rocks, marshes, plants, trees, mountains, wadies, water, wind, sun there is no end to it! You can fill the Nature in all your senses!


There is small town named 'Bukha', on the way to Khasab. As you enter Bukha, there is a beach & marshy land right next to road, while coming & going we got to see many birds here. Storks, colony of seagulls, one bird with colour of marshy land & pink legs. This is definetly a good spot for birdwatching. There is park next to this marshy area, at the end of park, they have built a hut overlooking the marshes for bird-lovers.

Through out Musandum, the Hajar Mountains are scenic. The rock formation, shapes & colours & textures of rocks are numerous! Every cliff is diffrent from the rest. In Musandum province there is natural vegetation, you can find date palms as well. Along the coast you can see salt water plants & on mountains we can find bushes & trees. Here is a photo of wild flower bush, we found on one of the mountain.

This part of Oman is not developed much, thankfully! So you get to see traditional Bedouin houses, their small farms, dhow building, ships, goats all over. The Bedouin houses use natural material for building house & main food is fish. There are many old castles & forts along the coast as well. The small villages are situated in the wadies or at the coasts where wadies are opening up. Though you can't see water flowing in wadies, may be becuase it is not there at the moment or channeled it to their farms. But you get to see some bushes in mountains, in the path of water. There are many small fishing villages in the fjords of Musandum dotted along the coast, where you can reach only by boat.

The best feature here is the channels; which are built all around these towns/villages. Is it for protection from flash floods or high tide or is it for water irrigation I am not sure. But it is very impressive. On roads there are signes everywhere to alert you not to drive if water is high upto some mark.

The tiny Khasab town is remarkably clean, you could see garbage bins kept every corner of road, considering distance for walking people. The town is pretty small, People were using cycles & also walking which is very rare to see in UAE. The fresh air in Musandum was enough of proof that there is no significant pollution here. I felt, it's been years I havn't breathed this much fresh air!

The biggest attraction in Khasab is a ferry ride in fjords, dolphin watching & snorkelling! The waters in this area is warmer. Travelling fjords in traditional wooden Oman Dhow is lovable experience. The fjords in Musandum are breathtaking! Though we got to see very little garbage floating on waters because it was a long weekend & this is most popular spot amognst UAE residents. But I am sure, otherwise this must be completely clean. We got to see at least 10-15 wild dolphines in those waters. Firstly we
were spotting them from some distance, as we go closer they started playing around the dhows. This is definetly a very joyful experiene for any nature lover! The dophines were happy & naughty! They were loving when people clapped for them. The dhow operators were blowing vissles to call dolphines & dolphines were coming to surface in response to it. That interaction between human & fish was notable! The Telegraphic island in between the fjords, where people do snorkelling was beautiful & comparatively clean. This is a perfect & one of the best place to see beautiful corals in sea. The grand mountains around the Telegraphic island, deep sea & open skies; somewhere felt like nature is calling!

But the best experience we had was at night! We stayed in Khasab town at the end of settlement, right next to mountains. There were abundent ships & goats wandering on roads & in bushes around. At night, while we were returning, a small animal, size in between a dog & a cat with exceptionally long ears, long brushy tail & shining eyes crossed the road in front of us. We tried to take snaps but it ran back towards the mountains. We realised it must be an arabian fox or some animal in same family, which we get to see only in zoo otherwise. After a minute, we saw one more, we tried to take out our camera. As the animal heard us, it stopped, got alert, raised ears to full length & stared at us for a moment & then vanished in dark. We cliked in dark, but it was gone already. All this happened in split seconds. Till we return back to our senses other animal came & same thing repeated. we seen at least 4 of these animals in same way but couldn't catch them even in a singal shot. They were quick & alert. We walked in direction, where they all were rushing, but we couldn't find them again. After a while we heard sound of a goat for some time & then it stopped. We realised the foxes got their food, they must have gone back in mountains now. Next day when we went to museum in Khasab Castle, we learnt about the same nocturnal Blanford's Fox (Vulpes Cana)! These foxes are listed as Least Concern but hunting of these foxes is banned in Oman. These foxes stay in mountaines and are found in Middle East mainly in Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Iran, Afghanistan & other Middle eastern countries.
Sighting of Dophines, Foxes, Birds & fishes into the wild is definitely one of the most amazing experience for us!

4 comments:

Musandam Dibba said...

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Musandam Khasab

gerard hulio said...

it is very nice share lovely good to read your blog kindly share some information about Desert Safari Dubai so we will know what fun we ke try in dubai desert safari

Don jon said...

Normally i don`t read much blog but your blog has some thing new information so that i read and i like that kindly share some information for Dubai Desert Safari i will come on December so it will help us

Amruta Kshemkalyani- Tavkar said...

Thank you Gerard and Don for your comments. Actually I write about sustainability and environmental awareness on this blog not about tourism :). I enjoyed few desert safaris in Dubai and I did not come across any special eco-tours or sustainability features there. Hope you will find about it through tourism websites, have gr8 vacation in Dubai!