Exotic finds in Al Buraimi
Buraimi is a small Oasis just over the border from Al Ain. Its borders were hotly disputed between Saudi and the UAE until the British stepped in with the help of Sheihk Zayed arbitrating with the local tribes, the land was divided between Oman who received Al Buraimi and Abu Dhabi who received Al Ain.
Once you get to Buraimi it’s easy to see why there was such a fuss. The landscape is truly spectacular.
“The surface boulders and pebbles have lain baking in the sun for several thousand years. They have been polished smooth by the desert winds and have 'sweated out' iron, magnesium and manganese salts to produce a distinctive black mineral surface and a dark appearance…” quoted the Emirates National History Group.
Crossing the border is straight forward enough. The drive to Al Ain is always a treat, the sand changes colour from white to red and prospect of seeing a caravan of camels making their way nowhere fast is high. We crossed at the Khatm Al Shikla Border where we received our exit stamp. We then headed to the Al Jizzy border around 30 km to the East, passing the hotel to gain our entry stamp. There looks to be building work going on just after the UAE border post which may be the new entry point to Oman which would certainly be much more convenient than the current drive for those who wish to remain in Buraimi. With stamps in place, we headed for our hotel. For more info on visas visit https://oman-evisa.com
The first hike began around 3pm, with the help of our local guides we headed to Wadi Khuatwa, which begins in a small farmland area with lime trees, falajs and lush green banana plants. There is a convenient car park too. A few villagers were dotted around the path patiently watching as our sizable group thread its way through the green oasis which was full of crops. The path led on and soon the landscape changed to the jagged outcrops of the dry wadi bed. We weaved our way over a bridge that had seen better days, lingering to look down into the deep pools of dark water a long way down below.
The hike, that is around 3 hours long, was in places quite challenging for the group which extended in age from a four year old child to visiting grandparents. Jon, our lead guide remained calm and led the group with a skill that comes from experience and a cautious approach with a big group of varying abilities. We were in safe hands with Monica in the middle of the group. I brought up the rear, where the stragglers and photographers reside, trying to encapsulate the scenery in the moment. The hike is in a couple of places quite physically challenging. There is a deep descent back down to the wadi bed but then a lovely flat walk back to the meeting point. We stopped to admire the sunset and returned to the hotel in a convoy of cars the local guides had helped us retrieve.
The hotel is perched on the side of a ravine and its views are extraordinary. We were given the terrace to ourselves with a barbeque and there we gave our guest the de-brief of the day. There was a charming simplicity permeating the group. We had issued the children with booklets to identify some geological elements of the hike as well as some flora and fauna. The children were encouraged to take photos of interesting things they saw along the way.
We rose early, ready for our exciting expedition to Wadi Bukla. This Wadi is full of water most of the year round and is clear, cool and perfect for swimming, wading and jumping from some of the rocks that flank the water below. A twenty minute walk along the dry wadi bed led us to the first pool. Shallow and manageable for all, we continued on through more pristine waters to a small waterfall and arrived at a larger lagoon where there was enough room for 20 also people to jump in and swim around. Making sure everyone is safe during these exciting moments is crucial. I could see Jon’s head gently nodding as he did several head counts in the water. Beyond this lake are more beautiful pools of clear water reflecting the rocky landscapes. So much to explore. We turned around here, though, conscious of the big group and the smaller gaps to navigate through.
There were many geologists among us on this trip with lots of knowledge about the landscape but the topic that we all enjoyed was that of the water scorpion. Feared by many, revered by some. Lutz, one of the geologists had managed to take a couple of excellent shots of this creature under the water. Unbeknown to me, as 20 little swimmers weaved their way through the wadi. Great excitement ensued as we attempted to identify the beautiful creature. Rare and dangerous! How lucky we were that nobody had been bitten by such an invisible creature submerged just under the surface as we waded passed! The group was delighted to have made such a find, much more interesting than the million years of rock formations all around us. It was only the day after, when Monica posted on our separate staff group that water scorpion was perhaps not so exotic at all.
But, our group was so excited we thought we’d keep this to ourselves.
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