Bordered to the south by the UAE, it is part of Oman, yet it is completely remote, detached from ‘mainland’ Oman which lies to the south and east. The many tribes which make up the population of the Musandam rejected being absorbed into the UAE in favour of being part of Oman, yet remain distinctly tribal with a very different identity, evidenced by the variety of tribal languages and dialects spoken.
The Musandam is absolutely spectacular. Known as the Norway of Arabia, there are steep sided fjords plunging into turquoise waters, empty white-sand beaches, long abandoned ancient villages, and fierce wadis, striking a huge swathe into the heart of the landscape. This makes for an amazing challenge as the terrain is unlike anything we have tackled before. While there are routes, we do not follow clearly defined paths. Many times, we are walking up steps created by large boulders, and occasionally, there is a little scrambling. Distances are small, but the trekking is tough, and the heat adds to the challenge! However, we are rewarded by exploring what few people have ever seen, and the absolutely amazing views. This trek has been especially created by Tribal Tracks and particularly on Days 4 and 5, you will be trekking where no groups have been before. Given the topography, and the remoteness, we also make use of boats, adding another dimension to this fabulous experience.
Day 1: LHR to Dubai
We leave London in the evening, for an overnight flight to Dubai.
Day 2: Dubai to Dibba
Upon arrival in Dubai, you will be met by our local ground crew. The transfer to Dibba takes roughly 2 hrs, perhaps a little less, and you will travel through the UAE, heading towards the border checkpoint where the mountains of the spectacular Musandam Peninsula loom in the distance.
Visas are not required, but you will need a letter of invitation, which we will have arranged for you in advance. This needs to be handed to the Omani officials at the border checkpoint. Getting to the Musandam is a journey in itself, adding to the feeling of excitement as you head towards somewhere really special, with few visitors.
Immediately over the border, you are transported back in time. Goats wander the empty streets, contrasting with the busting port, with heaving fishing boats and traditional dhows.
We reach our destination for the rest of the day, the Plantation Camp, aptly named as it is a working date plantation, where we will have lunch. After lunch, we can relax, unpack (there will be the opportunity to leave belongings not required on the trek at the camp) and if you want, enjoy an optional walk to the top of Dibba Peak, which is a hill that sits behind the Plantation Camp, but affords spectacular views out to sea. We will then enjoy a welcome dinner which will be followed by a safety briefing from the Tribal Tracks Team, as we watch the sun set on the mountains behind us.
Fixed Camping - Plantation Camp, B (on flight), L,D.
Day 3: Trekking Day 1: Dibba to Zighy Bay
After breakfast at camp, we walk to the start of the trek, keeping the sea on our right, towards the edge of Dibba.
We enter a steep, rocky Wadi. Rising dramatically from sea level we climb steadily, sometimes having to scramble up the larger boulders, to the col at the top. Upon reaching this, we can drink in the view of the sea and beautiful Smugglers Bay below us. We head down the wadi until we reach the beach, where we can cool off with a swim amongst shoals of tiny mackerel and eat our packed lunch.
Then we begin the steep climb up the hill at the other side of the beach, rewarded by reaching and then exploring the ruins of a deserted village at the top. From there, we tab along the contours, before descending steeply to Zighy Bay, which marks the end of the trek. Trying to ignore Six Sense Zighy Bay, we board a speed boat and head up the spectacular coast, cooling off before we reach our overnight beach camp in the tiny settlement of Sannat.
Wild camping, BLD. Trekking: 6 hours of very hard trekking Distance: 7-8 Kilometres
Day 4: Trekking Day 2: Wedding Tree Trek
After breakfast in camp, we trek up a beautiful, relatively shallow (compared to yesterday) wadi to a plateau where we find the ‘Wedding Tree’. Perched on the only piece of flat land for miles, this is where the local villagers celebrate weddings, under its sprawling branches.
After resting here, we descend a steep, scrambly path to Bandar Khar (Safe Harbour). It is tough going, but we take it steadily, and our goal is the beautiful, white sand beach. Our boats will be waiting and from there it is a short transfer of 30 – 40 minutes, skirting the dramatic fjords that become more and more spectacular the further north we go. There will be the opportunity to skirt towards shore to see spectacular caves and rock formations. We eat our packed lunch on the boat, so we are ready to trek when we land.
We land at the tiny settlement of Aqaba where we begin by trekking along a ledge that hugs the coastline. Sometimes it can be a bit of a scramble, and it’s a little like coasteering, but the team are always there to ensure you navigate any tricky sections with ease and we relish the new challenge.
We then begin to rise steeply, admiring the beauty of the coast as the views get more and more spectacular. Then, invisible until you are almost upon it, we come to a huge deserted village, clinging to the contours of the cliffs. An ancient village, deserted since the 1980s, this is a fascinating place to explore and our guides will tell you all about it. As soon as the children of the village could crawl, they had to be tethered to a rope to ensure their safety! We will have the chance to explore (and get in) the cell, which was used to contain prisoners, before they could be dealt with by the village elders, and also reach the highest watchtower, which has spectacular views. Looking the other way, we have a view of the town of Lima, where our next camp will be. The town has a short section of road, but it cannot be reached by road – all the cars have been transported there by dhow!
It is another steep descent, and then a welcome flat trek of 1km or so towards the edge of Lima where we find Farfar campsite. Set in another working date plantation, you will find 2 full bathrooms and showers (basic, but welcome!), wooden seating, plenty of shade and even a tiny pool – idyllic!
Wild camping, BLD. Trekking: 6 hours of tough trekking. Distance: 7-8 km
Day 5: Trekking Day 3: Lima – Haffa - Sal Hamdan
We walk from Farfar camp to the working harbour in Lima, where we board our boats for the final time, ready to be transferred to Haffa, where we begin the trek to Sal Hamdan.
The trek is spectacular, ascending and descending more wadis, and traversing plateau until we reach our camp, exhausted but thrilled with the views that we have seen and without giving too much away, the hidden secrets of the Musandam we have discovered.
Wild camping Sal Hamdan, BLD. Trekking: 6 hours Distance: 8 Kilometres
Day 6: Trekking Day 4: Sal Hamdan to Wadi Khab Al Shamsi
We make an early start this morning, trekking from our camp in Sal Hamdan up and onto a plateau, heading towards our end goal which is the spectacular Wadi Khab Al Shamsi.
We descend into the Wadi, the biggest we have been in on this trek. Carving a vast slice into the interior of the Musandam, this forms a fitting end to our amazing trek. After a short celebration, we transfer out of the Wadi and the Musandam, back into the UAE and on to the InterContinental in Fujairah for an overnight stay and a private celebration meal next to the beach.
Accommodation: 5* Intercontinental Fujairah, BLD. Trekking: 5 hours Distance: 8 Kilometres
Day 7: Departure Day
After breakfast, you will transfer to Dubai Airport for your international flight back home or choose to extend your stay by asking us to arrange a trip to 'mainland' Oman, the UAE or even returning to Dibba and beyond to Six Senses Zighy Bay if you want to splash out!
Meals: Breakfast, meals on the flight.
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