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Oman: Musandam Coastline

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Musandam Coastline | Oman | Asia

[Visited: August-September 2014]

The heat in Dubai is still stifling, and when I drive away, the airco of my 4WD brings my body temperature down to more pleasant heights. The drive to the border is easy, but then, I am asked for a letter stating that I can take out my UAE-registered car into Oman. The rental agency never gave me such letter, and it takes some persuading talk and friendly officials to allow me in. I have to buy an insurance at the Omani border, but then, I finally drive into the Musandam peninsula, a region I have been looking forward to visiting since a long time. The peninsula juts out into the Straits of Hormuz, with Iran being on the other side, thus defining the Persian Gulf to the west. It is a curious part of Oman, being separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates to the south. I feel thrilled to drive on the coastal road: bleak mountains rise high right from the seaside, making for spectacular scenery.

Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Coastal road on the west side of Musandam, with empty beach and clear seas

The road skirts the coastline, and there are many places for a stop to enjoy the views. I quickly notice that all beaches have long rows of cormorants standing right at the surf, almost making them look like penguins. My first longer stop on the way north is Bukha; I notice a small fort on top of a hill, and hike up in the heat. The fort turns out to be closed, so I walk around it to admire it from all sides. A little further north, there is a good vantage point on a hill separating two beaches with more cormorants, and an old watchtower on top. The views are great, not just the scenery of the mountainous coastline and its beaches, but also the marine animals I can see: a stingray and a turtle are swimming just below my eyes. From here, I continue the road, get out when I reach the western side of the bay on which Khasab lies. Here, the panorama of the mountains seemingly floating on the sea, and the curvy road clinging to the steep, bare mountains is breathtaking. A little further on, I drive a few kilometres inland, to visit the tiny village of Tawi. Here, I find the prehistoric petroglyphs after cruising through the village with its rustic houses, in a narrow wadi.

Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): One of the fjords of Musandam, Khor Najd, in the late afternoon

As soon as I have dropped my bag in a hotel in Khasan, the capital of the region, I am on my way again to Khor Najd, the only fjord (khor) that can be reached by car. Just when I start to wonder if I really needed a 4WD, since the roads are perfect, the asphalt ends, and the road up to a narrow mountain pass is a gravel track. At the mountain pass, I get out again - the view of the sun setting on the rugged mountains with their feet firmly established in the sea makes me shout out a loud Wow into the empty air. I drive down the many switchbacks, all the way down to sea level, where I can better appreciate the altitude of the mountains standing high above the fjord. I know that the fjords continue to the north, but you need a boat to explore. A good reason to come back one day! After exploring the interior of the peninsula the next day, I drive back the same road to the only border crossing allowed for foreigners at Tibat, and notice that, apart from the small fort I have seen the day before in Bukha, there is a much larger one right at the waterfront. With the sun going down on my right, the road is even more beautiful than the day before, with the steep cliffs on my left a massive natural wall. Two days on the Musandam peninsula have thrilled me.

Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Steep cliffs and high mountains define the road on the west coast of Musandam peninsula
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Hundreds of cormorants lining one of the many beaches at the west coast of Musandam peninsula
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): The small fort overlooking Bukha and the Persian Gulf
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Late afternoon sun on the bare rocks of Khor Najd
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Cormorants lining one of the beaches on the western side of Musandam peninsula
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): The clear waters of the bay north of Khasab, seen from above
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Coastal road leading into a fjord, on the way to Khasab, the capital of Musandam peninsula
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Khor Najd at the end of the day, one of the many fjords on the Musandam peninsula
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): The mountains of Musandam peninsula dwarfing the small fort of Bukha
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Road towards Khasab on one of the many fjords
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Landscape of sand and rocks, with mountains in the background, and a tower to overlook the Persian Gulf
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): Bukha Fort basking in the afternoon sun
Picture of Musandam Coastline (Oman): One of the many petroglyphs at Tawl, a few kilometres inland from the coast

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