02-Dec-2002 -- We spent three weeks in November/December 2002 (straddling the Islamic Ramaḍān/`Īdu-l-Fiṭr holidays) travelling in Oman. The furthest our circuit took us from our home in Riyāḍ, Saudi Arabia, was the southern city of Ṣalāla, where we visited our first urban confluence point at 17N 54E. On the way south we visited 21N 57E, 20N 56E, and 18N 54E; and on the way to the east coast of Oman (on our return) we visited 18N 55E, 18N 56E and 19N 57E. In all we motored 8,300 km.
To reach this waypoint we completed our crossing by graded track from the highway running N/S in central Oman to the east coast. To our surprise we joined another tarmac road as we saw the sea. It turned out that the coastal road from Masqaṭ had recently been completed as far south as Ṣawqira.
This meant that the journey north along the coast was much less arduous than we had expected, and we were able to speed along the tarmac, leaving it regularly to enjoy the spectacular empty beaches and lagoons. Because the population of residents and visitors is so low, the wildlife is easier to see. We startled gazelles from under trees when looking for lunch spots, saw turtle tracks (and of course crabs and shells) on the beaches, and watched flamingos and other birds in the lagoons.
Our final confluence point was a modest jowk inland from the coastal tarmac road. In the case of this confluence point we truly thought that the journey was worth more than the arrival. Our route to it took us through attractively coloured rocky terrain, but the confluence point itself was, in contrast, a rather dull plateau.
The return, via a different shortcut, was even more exciting. When the track we were following forked, we fell victim to the "busy wrong track" syndrome (the wrong track gets twice the traffic of the correct track as travellers take it and then return when they come to a dead end, and then take the (less used) correct track. We followed the wrong track first along an alarmingly narrow high ridge and then down a well churned "one way", i.e. down, descent. This left us on a plateau surrounded by mini precipices. The plateau was well criss-crossed with tyre marks, but there was no obvious means of progressing. Rather than try to return up the descent, we checked all the edges once more and spotted one set of tyre marks on a do-able route. Following these led us to more reliable tracks again, and so back to the tarmac.