Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wadi Bashing

Travel Month:

March 2009




Hajjar Mountains and Hatta Pools


Wadi driving, sight seeing, camping

Total Distance Covered:

350 KMs


We wanted a change from the usual desert offroading, so we ventured off to do some wadi and mountain offroading. The first task we took was to go to the opposite side of Hatta Pools and not to the side everyone goes to. We tried a couple of paths and ended up with dead ends every time. Finally I was able to bring my truck down to the dried river bed and the real adventure started from here. The speed was very slow as we negotiated with rocks and boulders and crossed small water pools. Because of the slow pace, kids decided to stand outside panels holding through the window, to enjoy even more. We crossed through the water channels and high boulders. We even had to bring rocks from around to make path for each tire to go through at some tough spots. It was a real adventure and all three trucks were doing good with their 4x4 engaged on a very low rpm to avoid rocks flying and damage to the vehicles. Sajeel was navigating me at times by walking ahead of the truck and showing me if the tires were at the right rock. It was going good for an hour or so when we reached a spot looked impossible to cross. I got down and started putting some rocks at two different places where I felt the truck wont be able to make it. There was flowing water to be crossed in this area as well. After doing this tough exercise in which everybody joined me, I tried to cross the rocky area. I was sinking in the rocks where the water was flowing, it was hard to predict and I had to drive in to find out how the base was. Finally I got stuck at one point and we called off going further down and started the rescue effort to pull back. After 10 minutes effort we were successfully reversed to safer grounds. Then I turned around and took another rough track that was going to the other side of the river bed. It was also a beaten track and our trucks were going up with great difficulty on loose rocks.

It continued like that for another 30 minutes and then I found the final descend to come much closer to the bigger pools we had been looking for. This descend was not straight forward though and it took a lot of skiding and braking before I finally made it down and waived the others to attempt it.

We changed into our swim cloths and headed to the pools, kids were excited and thrilled due to the adventure they just had and now the water which always excite them. As soon as we touched the water the votes to have a dip were reduced as the water was terribly cold in about 36 degrees Celsius temperature out side. Therefore only the daredevils including me, Sajeel, Rohail, Nabeel Bhai and Safi had a dip. Once we were in the water it became fun, it was all the more fun as not many people entered the water due to its temperature.

After swimming for some time we changed and everyone seemed to be in a mood to have the Biryani and Chicken Qeema. We drove back up the cliff and it was more difficult then going down. The tires spun like crazy on the rocks, which flew everywhere. I had to back up a few time to negotiate with one steep part before I made it without any damage to the truck. We drove back into the river bed to find some nice place for lunch. Which we finally found having a few small trees and a small stream of water coming from springs passing by. It made a few little pools just where we laid out our lunch on the collapsible table. The lunch was lavish with some nice fresh carrots and cucumber as salad, biryani and chicken mince as main course, some fruits and swanyaan as desserts. We stuffed ourselves with a well deserved lunch.

Iman and Hassan enjoyed sitting in the water and tried to catch a fish. There were a number of small but very fast moving fish in the little pools. Despite so many ways we tried to catch them we were unable to do that. The other kids enjoyed shooting practice with the air gun Sohail brought and gave surprise to all the kids. This was followed by shooting practice with GULAIL (I don't know the English name of this thing, but is the wooden V-shaped with elastic attached to it, used to fire small stones from it). It was good fun finished with a small hike.

We packed up to drive ahead to find a nice campsite for the night. I knew a place about 40kms away so I drove fast towards that place. Let me tell you more about the place. There are a lot of oases in Oman. These oases are small areas where there is cultivation done, mostly the Date trees, some vegetables and other fruits. The interesting thing is these are in the middle nowhere but still they grow these plants. On gathering more info we got to know that there is a complete FALAJ system in place in the whole of Hajjar Mountains. FALAJ is a man made water way, and the water is brought from miles away from the springs in the mountains. This water is served to these old villages for cultivation. These old villages have been abondaned by the original residents and now they have only people working for them living there. The owners themselves have moved to bigger cities or towns and visit them during the crop time or on some weekends. There are a number of villages and a number of pools in Hajar mountains which are not much visited by the tourists. Because many visitors do not even know about these pools as these are not well recorded in the books and the roads and tracks are not well marked either.

We stumbled across one nice oasis once while driving aimlessly offroad. We reached a place where there were only a few houses but a number of orchards with an ancient village and a fort behind it. We stayed in one area, off course after getting permission from the incharge and since then we love to go to this place. There are 8-10 people working in the whole village, all from different parts of Pakistan and they all know us now. There are nice tracks through the village and FALAJ just passes next to our campsite (we call it our campsite). Children get to see nature more closely as they play with frogs and goats and what not.

After driving for another 45 minutes we made it to our usual place. Sohail & fmly and Nabeel n fmly were first time here and were very excited to see this very private location with no other visitors around and offered so much of enjoyment for everyone. We sat around the Falaj and then in the shade for sometime to have some leisure time before erecting our kitchen tent first, followed by the other tent. The weather changed to pleasant as the later afternoon approached. The cool breeze picked up and we really enjoyed it after a hot day. Kids caught frogs and played catch and releaze game with them. We picked some radish from a tiny field. We said our ASR prayers in the smaller village Mosque before we started preparing for our diner. We all collected wood and prepared our fire pit. The tripod grill was assembled and everyone was performing the chores assigned to them. Someone was warming the kababs on the stove, someone was bringing more wood, someone was preparing the steaks, all in all everyone was busy with something.

The wood was dry and it caught fire quickly, though it took about 45 minutes to convert that into charcoal. Once the charcoal was ready we started preparing the steaks, the potatoes were already thrown in the fire to get baked. Children made their sausages on prongs. At the end we enjoyed a wonderful diner under the sky full of stars.

It was time for one party to leave as they had some other work next morning. We drove them to the road and then came back to our camp to have a nice walk under the stars. It was absolute dark night as there was no moon but millions of stars. The surroundings were mesmerizing and the weather was excellent with mild wind blowing from the west. We called it a day at about 11.

Morning started with a quick breakfast with fried eggs and bread. We had a walk around the village before driving off towards Hatta road about 65 kilometers away. From where our home was about 1.5 hours drive.

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