From Dubai to Muscat
It's been amazing two weeks in the Middle East. Cycling through deserts, steep climbs in the mountains, cruising along the beach, even hiking the highest mountain of the Arab peninsula. These two weeks offered more that I could have expected. Unfortunately summer is approaching fast, the temperatures are not made for me - it's getting hotter every day. There are definitely better countries to cycle in now - guess which one I'm going next?!?. Oman has surprised me in a very positive way - I'm looking forward to being back and going into the desert and the eastern parts of the country. Km cycled total from Dubai to Muscat: 1131.
Goodbye Oman, Goodbye Middle East
With a beautiful sunset on the beach I say goodbye to my adventure in UAE and Oman - the temperatures are rising and rising every day. I have to admit that I'm not that tough to cycle in the heat day after day. I'll be back in winter!
A few days in Muscat
Muscat, a city stuck between the mountains and the sea, has been my last stop on the Arab peninsula. The Sultanate of Oman how it is officially called is governed by Sultan Qaboos since 1970 - he doesn't have children nobody knows what will happen after his death. His palace and all the government district buildings as well as the Grand mosque - one of the biggest in the islamic world - makes you feel like in an artificial world. The mosque was inaugurated by the Sultan himself in 2001 to celebrate his 30 years of reign and guess how it's called: the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Km cycled: 73.
With the heavy rain which was forecasted I wasn't sure if I could cycle today. In the morning it was still cloudy and a bit rainy - weather which is good for cycling, better than sunshine for me. After a huge breakfast with the kids I left and I saw how much it rained at night. Lots for roads were flooded - my legs got really wet going through dirty water. On small roads on the coast and big highways including a break on the beach I made it in Muscat, the capital of Oman, on my longest cycling day in the Middle East. Today's route: Abdulaziz's family home - Muscat. Km cycled: 155.
Staying at the top of the mountain means DOWNHILL in the morning! Yeah! But this time it was all dirt road and steep which was quite challenging! Guys from England and their tour guide, who already saw me climbing up yesterday invited me to have lunch with them which I really enjoyed! Luckily the dirt road after ages turned into a sealed road and I made it to the home if Abdulaziz, his wife and 3 kids whom I had a lovely evening with. Heavy rain and thunderstorms are forecasted, therefore schools are closed on Sunday (working week is from Sunday to Thursday here) - the kids were pretty happy about that. 🤣 Today's route: Shorfet Al-Alamin hotel - Rustaq - Abdulaziz house. Km cycled: 69.
Out of the blue I had the idea of crossing the Hajar mountain range and not going straight to Muscat. It was another 1500 m elevation, but the second one was easier - at least it was a sealed road! 🤣 Before I started the climb up the mountain I had the watermelon a watermelon seller gave me for free. On the side of the road there are always people selling stuff out of their cars. Lots if Omanis having bbq and picnics around the mountain as it was Friday and weekend. Kids gave me watermelon, dates, water, other young men cookies. When I reached the top the wind almost blew me away! But this mountain was definitly easier than going up to Jabal Shams. Today's route: Birkat al Mouz - Al Hamra - Shorfet Al-Amin hotel at the top. Km cycled: 80.
After a morning sightseeing visit of the castle in Bahla and breakfast with Sulaiman I continued my cycling adventure to the Jabreen castle and to Nizwa and finally to Mae and Andrews house, warmshower hosts as well, in Birkat al Mouz. Spent the afternoon with Mae, who told me so much about thai culture and life. Good luck with your future bakery, Mae! Mae plans to open a bakery business in Thailand in the future, I would definitely have a cake from you! 😁 Today's route: Bahla - Jabreen castle - Nizwa - Birkat al Mouz Km cycled: 77.
Downhill, downhill, downhill... I couldn't believe I made it up that mountain! Even going down on that dirt road was hard, but a lot of fun! I visited a small mountain village, Misfat, just a bit up from Al Hamra where the old buildings are all made out of clay - so another climb - but way easier and only 400 m. Stayed at Sulaimans place, a warmshowers host in Bahla, who I visited at his workplace and one of his co-workers gave me a big big bag of dates, I cannot even carry that much - I could live of dates for 3 days now! 😂 Todays route: Jabal Shams Resort - Al Hamra - Misfat - Bahla. Km cycled: 82.
Left my bike at the bottom of the mountain and put on my trekking shoes instead to hike to the top of Oman to Jabal Shams! I was told that the trek takes about 5 to 6 hours - "but you after cycling so much might be faster" - the guy at the reception desk - so when I reached the top after 3 hours I was still a bit surprised! The very top is a military base which is not accessible, therefore my summit picture is a few meters further down. Following the edge of the canyon for some parts even left me speechless and a bit shivering when looking down - but so amazing! Left the tent in my panniers and treated myself with a bed in the mountain resort after these two tough biking and hiking days. And I met a girl, Aruba, who shared her bottle of wine with me! What a perfect evening!🍷😁 Today's route: Jamal Shams Km cycled: 6.
What a hell of a morning ride. The 24 km from Minthar to the Jabal Shams Resort took me 4h 15min - you can guess how much elevation and what kind of road I had to deal with! 😂 Later I realised this road was also part of the bikeman Oman - an ultra endurance 1000 km bike race. But no racing for me - I had to push my bike some parts and going zigzag helped as well! But totally worth it: What an amazing place up here at about 2000m altitude. An enormous canyon, also called the Grand Canyon of Arabia with amazing views! I'll hike the highest mountain of Oman tomorrow! Jabal Shams! Today's route: Al Minthar - Jebel Shams Resort Km cycled: 36.
Already got used to sleeping in my tent again - woke up when it was daylight already. Wild camping is legal in Oman, everybody can just put a tent wherever he or she wants! The best about that is watching the stars without lights around. Cycled through beautiful small Omani villages with mountains left and right of me, what a magnificent landscape! Visited my first wadi in Oman, Wadi Dam, there was some construction works going on - so I'll hope for the next one! The best of the day was to take a gravel road over a small mountain, pushing the bike uphill most of the time and biking downhill I was even a bit scared - quite steep! Luckily the brakes of my bike got fixed already in Perth! 🤔 That day gave me a first glimpse of the Omani mountains - I will try to bike towards the highest, Jabal Shams, tomorrow. Today's route: Camp - Bilat Shahum - Al Ain - Wadi Dam - Al Mintar. Km cycled: 105.
Exchanged the kangaroos with camels, road signs with camels, camels next to the road,... Reached the Omani border point in the morning which is 20 km away from the border post of the Emirates. Why? No idea! Cycled towards the first "bigger" town, Yanqul, where I visited the castle and had a nice chat with the Bangladeshi guy working there. Got a big box of dates from a guy who stopped on the road. What a great first day in Oman. The very best of cycling in Oman is that there are water taps in every village on the side of the road and as well at every mosque - you really cannot run out of water! Today's route: Campspot - Border control- Yanqul - Campspot. Km cycled: 140.
Early start today till Al Ain where it took my quite a while to find the right border crossing which is open for all passport holders and not only UAE and Omani citizen and residents. In German we would say "alle guten Dinge sind drei". Could have done a bit of research before 😁. I knew that I will love Oman already on the way from Al Ain to the border where the mountains came closer and closer. Already met the first person who stopped on the road and offered me water only having cycled 20 km in this country. A young quite handsome Omani guy 😂. Todays route: Camp next to road - Al-Ain - Border - Bush camp next to Mahad. Km cycled: 133.
Day 1 - cycling continued
Cycling in the desert! After one week I was already really excited to continue cycling. I missed it. So I didn't wait one day longer and started towards Oman on crazy 4 lane highways out of Dubai. What a relieve when I made it to the Al Qudra bike track. The guy in the shop there told me that summer has just started today, first hot day - perfect 😂! Today's route: Dubai - Al Qudra lakes - Al Qudra Bike trek - Sweihan - camp next to the road. Km cycled: 135.