14-Apr-2006 -- This is the second visit to a confluence on a two-week trip through the United Arab Emirates and Oman.The story starts from 26N 56E.
Currently, there are only two land-based Confluences that have not been completed yet. One is far off near the border to Yemen and – amazingly – this one, which is the nearest Confluence to the capital Masqaṭ. The reason for this Confluence not being captured is its inaccessibility. It is by far not possible to drive to the point – as it is the case for most Confluences in Oman. As the previous attempter Stefan Beck mentioned: the Confluence is almost on a steep mountain called Jabal Thanab. Having these difficulties in mind and taking into account previous experiences while visiting Confluences in the mountains, it was clear that an early start was necessary. This 'attempt' is a good example how little mistakes prevent the visit of being successful.
5:20 am: We wake up in our hotel in Maṭraḥ (which is part of the capital area) 70 km beeline distance from the point.
5:45 am: We start driving at the historical Corniche of Maṭraḥ using a rental car. It is a Friday early morning and the streets are empty.
7:10 am: Having driven 100 km, we reach the pretty costal town Qurayyāt, where we find an Indian restaurant that is already open. Now 26 km are separating us from the Confluence.
7:40 am: We continue to the costal fishing village Daġmar. Unfortunately, the road ends here and we have to return to Qurayyāt. However, the deviation was not for nothing, we have the opportunity to participate in an early-morning fish auction.
9:00 am: A gravel road takes us to the small costal village Ḍibāb, still 10 km to go. From there a rough gravel road takes us inland, following a green wādiy called Wādiy al-`Arabiyyīn. Steep grades and a couple fords where we have to cross the river make the drive challenging, in particular because we don't have a jeep but a normal personal car.
10:10 am: We reach the end of the road (3.7 km still to go) in the oasis village Suah (mentioned by Stefan Beck as Wādiy al-`Arabiyyīn). It is indeed a pleasant place with friendly people and a lot of greens. Friday is no school, so the kids of Suah enjoy our stay in the village. We are given fresh water and fruits. When we start hiking, the kids offer us guiding. We are happy to have our little guides. It is always a good idea to trust local people; they know the area and all the footpaths. But our kids go beyond that, they showed us their entire world: fresh dates, bananas, some unidentifiable but sweet hairy mulberry-like fruits, the falaj water channels, and a dozen kinds of crawling species of animals. At the beginning, I don't bother that we are not coming closer to the DCP – the kids will know better.
After a while we leave the last date palms behind us – here the kids say good-bye to us and return to the village. We continue hiking along Wādiy Helah – a wonderful narrow valley with steep slopes at both sides and waterfalls. The pools are perfect for cooling down by taking a bath. We were so charmed by the valley that we neglected the Confluence a bit. It was not until 12:30 when we realised that this valley didn't bring us closer to the Confluence (still 3.5 km to go). We finally turn around and reach Suah again at 14:00. Due to the heat, we are very exhausted and need a break.
14:30 pm: We start for another attempt, this time we follow Wādiy Nkmah (the name I use is according to people from the village). This valley leads us straight south, again we follow irrigation channels until we reach the end of the oasis.
15:00 pm: Elionora is exhausted and rests under the last date palm trees, while I continue the hike through the valley.
16:00 pm: The last point of a save daylight return is reached! The terrain is extremely difficult to hike since huge rocks make up a labyrinth and progress has been rather slow. The GPS tells me that it is still 2.17 km to go. The coordinates are now 23°01'10.0"N and 59°00'02.4"E.
The way back is much quicker, because I found a foot-path on the eastern side of the valley. At 17:00 we are back in the village Suah, at 20:30 we reach the city of Ṣūr. The fact that we didn't make it to the point bothered me a bit. I had to come back! (See the continuation of this trip).
CP visit details:
- Time at point of return: 16:00 p.m.
- Duration: 15 hours 5:30 – 20:30
- Distance of village: 3.7 km
- Nearest approach to the DCP: 2.18 km
- Description: In the Eastern Ḥajar mountain range, probably up Jabal Thanab next to the valley Nkmah.
- Given Name: Stone Labyrinth Confluence
Story continues with two more confluence visits in Oman at 23N 57E.