Where Do You Go For Your Amazing Winter Tan?

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere means rain, snow, sleet or hail and cold temperatures.  Winter in Oman, despite being in the Northern Hemisphere means perfect summer weather. 

Last February we went on our first winter day trip. It was 30C (86F).  The sun was shining and there were no clouds in the sky.

We cracked our driving guide, Oman Off Road, which you should pick up if you are on your way to Oman. I packed bug spray, sunscreen, water, my camera, a tripod and a cooler box full of snacks. 

We left the house around 7:00 and headed south.  The first thing you notice driving around Oman is the geology.  The mountains range in color.  The layers of sediment are sometimes tipped on end completely vertical. 

Layers of soil nearly vertical as they collide and build mountains.

Layers of soil nearly vertical as they collide and build mountains.

It’s beautiful and confusing at the same time.  Often we can’t tell what type of soil we are looking at, but admire the fantastic colors as we drive past. 

The colors of the Omani hillside.

The colors of the Omani hillside.

We drove south on the Muscat-Sur road and followed the directions to the Wadi Dayqah Dam.  It was still under construction and no one thought it is worth a visit, but we decided to check it out anyhow.

The water pooled at the top of the dam.

The water pooled at the top of the dam.

Despite not being finished, a majority of the dam and a park are complete and it is stunning.  The park is small but full of flowers, green grass, beautiful birds and  colorful butterflies.

A butterfly amongs the flowers.

A butterfly amongs the flowers.

A bird flew overhead so colorful I could not have imagined it.  The inside of the wings were striped in blues and purples.  I later learned it was an Indian Roller.  I wished I had binoculars to watch it fly.

My first glimpse of an Indian Roller

My first glimpse of an Indian Roller

Indian Roller.

Indian Roller.

The park was full of locals and expats from India and Pakistan.  We were the only Western Expats.  We like it that way.  Usually, that means we have found something before the tourists.

After a visit around the dam we hopped in car, ate a few slices of cheese and off we went.  When we are planning our day trips this is the point where we plan to turn back so we are home before dark.  But in practice, this is the part of the day where we are having so much fun we can’t help ourselves and go the opposite direction of home.  On this particular day we paused a moment.  We should go left, but we exchanged knowing glances and turned right. 

One last shot of the dam as we drove off on our adventure.

One last shot of the dam as we drove off on our adventure.

We headed down a road that we were only half confident about.  We estimated that we knew where it went.  We were wrong.

A short five-minute drive past the dam the road turned to a single dirt lane.  For a while there was a mountain on one side and a cliff on the other.  If we came head to head with another vehicle one had to back up until there was a pull off because there wasn’t space for two vehicles to pass.  Then there was rocky desert sand as far as you could see.  This is where I saw some adorable donkeys.

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There were rarely signs naming villages and the roads no longer showed on our map, but we drove on.  It wasn’t long before the laughter and confusion started and we wondered if we should have brought a tent.  As we drove along a narrow cliff face road wondering if we would ever get home we approached a bright red sign. 

The first line said, “Drowning accidents are now popular,” as though it was a trend instead of a warning.  A few meters past this point cars were parked around the edges of the road and sparkling pools shined up from below us.

We had arrived, although, we had no idea where we were.  My partner, Brad, had stripped to his swim trunks. I stayed covered because there were locals around.  I dipped my feet into the nearest shallow pond and flinched as tiny pinching began stinging my feet.  The Garra Rufa, sometimes known as Doctor Fish had begun to feast on me. 

The first time I swam with these little fish I was unaware of their existence, screamed and ran out of the swimming hole.  This time I tried to sit calmly and leave my feet still for the free pedicure.  It still surprises me that people pay for this creepy experience. 

Meanwhile, Brad joined the locals and jumped off the nearest cliff into the green pool beneath.  He was beaming when he finally popped through the surface.  Our biggest concern during winter was going to sunburn.  

Waiting in line to jump.

Waiting in line to jump.

Walking toward the jump spot.

Walking toward the jump spot.

It’s November now and that day trip seems like it was so long ago.  Summer has passed and the weather has cooled to 38C (100F). I’m pumped for winter so we can head back to the swimming hole.

Where is your winter spot around Muscat?