23-Apr-2006 -- This is the last visit to a confluence on a two-week trip through the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The story starts from 26N 56E.
A previous attempt to visit this Confluence nine days earlier had failed, because we went into the wrong wādiy and later were running out of daylight time. Now the last day of our stay in Oman had already come. Elionora had to take a bus back to Dubayy at 6:00 a.m. that day to catch her flight back to Europe, while my flight was around midnight – leaving me a time window of 16 hours to visit the Confluence.
At 4:20 a.m. we woke up in our hotel in Maṭraḥ, (which is part of the capital area) with a 70 km beeline distance from the point. We packed separate rucksacks and checked out of the hotel. At 5:00 a.m. I brought Elionora to the bus station in Ruwiy (the business district of the capital area) and after saying good-bye to her I made my way towards Qurayyāt and Wādiy al-`Arabiyyīn by a rental car. This time, I was earlier in the day than at our last attempt, I also had packed lunch and I knew the roads and conditions already – things looked promising.
At 6:30 a.m., having driven over 100 km and being already beyond Qurayyāt at the dirt road ca. 15 km from the Confluence, I thought I could switch on my GPS to let it get a position fixing. To my surprise there was Elionora's backpack in the back seat, but not mine! It took a while to understand the whole extent of the new situation. Not only that I didn't have a camera and GPS with me – Elionora and I, we both didn't have our passports and flight tickets! I tried to switch on Elionora's mobile phone, but I even didn't have the pin number. Consequently, communication was impossible now and looking at the time, I realised that her bus had already left. I knew that there was one last bus to Dubayy at 7:00 a.m. that she could take in order to catch her flight, but there was no chance for me to get there in time. All I could do was to turn around and speed back to Ruwiy.
At 7:15 I am back to Ruwiy, all busses to Dubayy have already left, but Elionora is still there, understandably not in the best mood. It took some lengthy negotiations to find a shared taxi that could take her to Dubayy and after exchanging the backpacks we both took off again.
8:45 a.m., I am on the road again, this time 4 hours later. The best cool morning time is over already – but I am still determined to make it to the Confluence.
At 11:00 a.m. I am back to the village Suah. Roads and village people are already familiar to me. The only difference is that the kids are dressed in school uniforms, since today is not Thursday or Friday.
12:00 - I reach my previous point of return in the Wādiy Nkmah; it is now 2.18 km to go. There is absolute no wind in the valley and it is extremely hot. In order to get further up the valley I have to climb through a labyrinth of huge rocks. I have to take breaks due to exhaustion. In one of the last water wholes I take a bath to cool down. Beyond this point the wādiy is dry and progress is slow due to the boulders in my way. I often have to go back and try different routes, sometimes I have to climb over the boulders, and sometimes I have to find some tunnels to get through. The valley is so extremely steep on both sides, so that the GPS and mobile phone signals are blocked.
At 14:00 p.m. I reach the upper end of the valley (Wādiy Nkmah). To my surprise I find the remainders of an abandoned oasis! There are trunks of date trees, falaj water channels (picture #5), and some stone houses sheltered by an overhang. Now it is 1.1 km to the Confluence.
14:30 p.m., again, the last point of a save return has come (besides the daylight, I have constraints to bring back the rental car and catch my flight). The distance to the Confluence is now 840 m and the GPS altitude is 446 m. I have partially climbed up the western side of the valley. But besides the time constraints there is no further advance without mountaineer equipment. Towards the Confluence, there is a vertical rock face ahead of me. The coordinates are now 23°00'08.4"N 59°00'28.4"E.
All sides of the canyon are extremely steep. There might be a way out on the eastern side of the canyon, but it is questionable if that will lead to the confluence point. If I would have time for another trial (and so is my suggestion for further attempts), I would drive road number 23 towards Ṣūr, then take a left to the village Sumayya and try to approach the confluence from the South instead from the North. It will be a longer hike (10-15 km) but possibly easier.
At 17:15 I was back in the village Suah and invited to have a sit-in with enjoying salted mangos, at 19:30 I was back in Ruwiy, at 22:00 at the airport in Masqaṭ, and the next morning at 8:20 a.m. back in my office in London.
CP visit details:
- Time at point of return: 14:30 p.m.
- Duration: 15 hours 4:20 – 19:30
- GPS height: 446 m
- Nearest approach to the DCP: 840 m
- Description: In the Eastern Ḥajar mountain range, probably up Jabal Thanab next to the valley Nkmah. The nearby abandoned village is only 1 km to the East, but there is probably a height difference of another 700 m to the CP.
- Given Name: Abandoned Oasis Confluence