06 March 2009

A day in Musandam

Just back after spending a beautiful day in the Musandam peninsula of Oman with family!

Spend last night and most of today in the main city of the region – Khasab. The hour long route from Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) offers one of the best sea-side drives in the region.
Khasab – though the biggest city of this part of Oman – is an extremely tranquil place and is almost lost in time when compared to its more affluent neighbours in nearby UAE. Though primarily a large fishing village it is fast becoming a tourist getaway for people from near by cities – especially Dubai.

As you approach the city you get a sense of arriving at an oasis in the middle of the almost barren landscape of the Hajjar Mountains.
There is very little to see in the city – the Khasab castle
and the large Sultan Qaboos Mosque (which is under construction) are the only two significant buildings here – however don’t be fooled by what you see in the city for its allure lays offshore.
You can either take a speed boat or the more idyllic option of taking a dhow cruise to experience the Khor Ash Sham – a lagoon like area surrounded by extremely impressive mountains.
(See below map of area covered by day dhow trips leaving from Khasab– in orange area covered by half-day cruise and in blue additional area covered on a full-day cruise)
Because of its sheltered nature the water in this area is extremely calm and is rich in aquatic life thus making it a great place for snorkeling and diving.

Along the way there are a few small villages which depending on the fishes of this rich habitat for there livelihood and rely on Khasab for all their needs including potable water. As tourist you are not allowed to visit these small villages as the Omani government is trying to preserve there unique culture.
(Above is Qanaha village with only 10 households)

However these villagers are not the only ones who know and depend on these rich waters. We were lucky enough to see some of this region’s most famed residents - its Dolphins. In fact we saw lots of them including a school with a few calves.
After which we had an hour long snorkeling break off Telegraph Island before heading back to Khasab.

A quick late lunch and we headed back to Dubai halting on the way at some of the most serene beaches I have seen in a while.
Below a few more photos of the landscape on the way back.
And the last photo is of the first settlement in UAE (part of Ras Al Khaimah) as you cross the international border at Tibat.

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