Sur to Nizwa

Thursday, 10 February 2005

The sultan’s new mega-dhow was under construction at the Sur dhow yards. He already seemed to have plenty of ships… the harbour at Muscat featured vessels ranging from the royal dhow to what looked like the royal cargo/passenger vessel. So perhaps this new bigger and more ornate dhow was just to keep the dhow builders’ skills fine tuned. Except they were all from Kerala in India.

Pool in Wadi Bani KhalidWestbound, we sidetripped to Wadi Bani Khalid where again the heavy hand of progress was making an unhappy appearance. Here an ugly road was being shoved through to the wadi, making it easier to get there and probably inspiring more unsightly concrete constructions around the wadi pool. Amazingly 10 minutes’ walk further up the wadi left the ugliness behind and led to a series of delightfully limpid pools hidden between the soaring canyon walls.

A little further down the road we paused for lunch at Al-Mintirib, unfortunately as close as we were to get to the desert sands on this trip. Fortunately Maureen and I had a good taste of Saharan sand dunes and oases when we visited Libya last year. This trip, there wasn’t time. Our night stop was Nizwa – just 50 years ago it was so fiercely conservative that Wilfred Thesiger dared not enter the town at the end of his epic crossing of the Empty Quarter.