Jabal shams to wadi Ghul.
We spent the morning exploring the top plateau at Jabal Shams, saying hi to goats and the french couple we met the yesterday.
On the ‘rim hike’ yesterday, we had noticed an oasis at the bottom of the canyon. Today our goal was to ride down from the plateau to the beginning of that a’nakhr canyon to go visit the oasis the day after.
The steep downhill grades descending the plateau were hard on our brakes and we often stopped to cool them down to avoid brake fade.
At one of those stops a little boy came to say hi and offered us to buy a keychain that he made. We did, of course, and we continued chatting with him (using our “hands and feet” of course, because he spoke limited English and us limited Arabic) and he wanted to try Justin’s bike. Cyclotouring is a novelty and often people want to try our bikes, notably Justin’s bike, because we are interacting with a lot of children due to Justin being with us. After the boy took the bike for a ride and was all smiles, we continued on to the entrance of beautiful wadi A’Nakhr, set up camp and went exploring on foot. Another beautiful day done.
Al Hamra-Jabal Shams. We hiked the stunning ‘rim trail’ of Oman’s grand canyon, camped along the edge of it and experienced some cooler temperatures. We made some local friends and saw other tourists.. a couple from France, also cyclotouring in Oman! Justin is pushing up the hills no problem. Lots of encouragement from people waving and honking, we are having a blast!
Day 3, Tanuf to Al Hamra. We rode through the oasis of Tanuf and Visited the Al hoota cave, blind fish and lots of bats live in this cave! Also came across Camels and goats on the road and we spotted an old mud tower that we decided to explore.
Day 2. Nizwa to Wadi Tanuf. 36 km, 28 celsius. No flat tires. It is incredibly beautiful everywhere. Found some skulls, did some rock climbing, talked to lots of curious kids, and adults.
Thanks to irrigation canals called Falaj, there is water available for growing gardens and date palm trees and beautiful parks. These canals were built hundreds of years ago. They originate at springs in the mountains and are controlled and organised as per who and what gets water when. Where there is a falaj, there is an oasis of date palm trees, grass for the goats and other crops (looks like cane but wére not for sure). These green oasises make A stark contrast to the beautiful arid, mountainous landscape.
We visited the mud house remains in Tanuf, these were bombed by the UK in 2050 during the jabal war. Very impressive way of building.
We camped in wadi tanuf at a beautiful picnic area. There was even firewood to make coffee!
Justin cycled 36km all on his own, he is quite proud and is doing a great job.
Day one, we took the bus from Muscat airport to Nizwa. Thankfully we arrived in advance at the bus station, it was easy to find a bus but it gets loaded to the top with bags of workers. so good to be there first and get the bikes in the belly of the bus. Great to escape the busy highway around muscat by taking the bus straight to where we want to be. We explore the town at night and have a good rest before heading off on our bikes in the morning
we made it to oman! and our bicycles arrived intact. let the adventure begin!
Woot woot we made it to the airport! no scratches on the rental car and the Bicycles are still intact after 150km on the roof on winding roads and
Final Preparations! t-3 dAYS
Things are getting real now!
After spending the holidays with family in The Aveyron and enjoying some sunshine and warm temperatures on the French coast, we're back at our base here in the Aveyron and really studying the map, preparing for our departure to Oman on Sunday.
We checked over our bicycles last week, visited the local Decathlon store to get ourselves some parts, gear and a tent.
Due to the cold climates at home, we only have 4 season tents. In a country where it is hot, these 4 season tents have no adequate ventilation. For our two weeks in the heat, we have opted for the cheapest little dome tent we could find, it's not supposed to rain anyway, right?! This is the Arpenaz fresh and black, around $75 Cad. from Decathlon. This will be our home during the trip.
Before leaving Canada, during preparations, Philippe hurt himself. While removing the trailer from the car, it slid on the ice in the direction of our solar panels. Trying to restrain the trailer from sliding, philippe got dragged along and broke his hand in the process.
Due to the fact that we're travelling with a child, we have to consider our routes in Oman carefully, adding an adult with some booboos, is bringing us back to the map.
We have decided to see on the spot which direction we'll go. We do know that we will be starting from Nizwa. and go from there.
You may wonder... Why Oman?
Some of our best memories were made cycling in the middle east. The incredible hospitality of the people that was genuine and heartfelt was something that has deeply touched us in the past.
We've been busy building our home and business and family over the past few years, but we haven't stopped following fellow cyclotourers.
Last winter, a couple that we were following went cycling in Oman and we were amazed by the beauty of the scenery as well as their experience with the local people, that appeared very similar to what we had experienced when we travelled through Turkey, Syria and Jordan before things turned sour in that area.
After asking a friend of ours who grew up in the Oman area about his thoughts on bike touring there with a kid, he wasn't super enthusiastic, but didn't kill our desire to go there. He checked in on our plans this fall. We were by then thinking of something more flat, we were actually looking at Namibia and Botswana. But the things to see and villages are very spread apart in both those countries. Don't cross Oman off your list completely he said. There are beautiful things to see and the culture would be much like what you're hoping to find. And so it was decided. Tickets were booked. we are going to Oman.
Since booking our tickets, we've followed an elderly couple cycling there complaining about busy roads. We've been studying the maps as you know (or if you didn't, now you do) we are allergic to busy roads. We do not understand why cyclotourers take highways. We prefer to find the smallest roads on the map, and ok it may take us an extra day to get from a to b but that's what it's all about. it's about being one with where you are and living the local live, integrate with the locals and soak up the culture. So, it turns out, in Oman, there may be some roads like we love that are calmer, but they risk being very steep as they cross mountain ranges.
We're not quite sure of our exact plan as we are currently very busy with our business. But since this trip is about getting out there on our bikes and especially it being a great life and cultural experience for little Justin, we will do our best to find those little roads and we'll go with the wind, we've never really travelled with a set plan before, and I have a feeling this trip will be the same. We may just pick one area and spend two weeks exploring it...
To be continued!