Tag Archives: vacation

Sink Holes are for real and they’re stunning.

Has anyone of you ever heard of (or encountered) a Sink Hole? Sorry but I didn’t even know it ever existed. With the long Eid weekend holidays at this time of the year giving as a perfect time to relax or unwind,my friend, Ted bragged  me about a must-see sink hole which I shrugged [it off] as just a waste of time going there.Until it became obvious that what my very own eyes saw was a stunning view of the world’s most stunning sinkhole. In shape, it seemed like a cavernous limestone bowl and it’s so beautiful it has become a tourist attraction.A sinkhole, which can be properly termed also as a sink, snake hole, swallow hole, swallet, doline, or cenote, is a natural depression or hole in the Earth’s surface caused by Karst processes — the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks.A geologist or scientist would we the perfect someone to explain this subject. How big are sinkholes? Mind you, sinkholes may vary in size from 1 to 600 metres (3.3 to 2,000 ft) both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. Sinkholes may be formed gradually or abruptly, and can be found everywhere around the globe.It is worth mentioning that sinkholes sometimes grab headlines for swallowing cars, houses and occasionally whole streets.
However amazing as it is, this sinkhole in Oman is so stunning it has been turned into a tourist attraction.While similar holes engulf residential streets or open up in front of despairing home owners, the beautiful limestone hollow in Bimmah sinkhole has long been attracting tourists taking countless photos for FB or other purposes and taking a refreshing dip.

We had just hied off at the Wadi Dayqa Dam (to be blogged later) and next thing was… we found ourselves pondering about the beautiful sight that was not included in our original itinerary——- at this very intriguing place at Dibab Lake Park.Wheww…Bimmah Sink Hole.Beautiful as it is, water is bluish, we saw a lot of people swimming on it,though it is quite salty just like the seawater or even saltier.

If you are wondering how deep this sinkhole is, the locals say it is a good 20m deep at its lowest point.Thank goodness, our time was not wasted to visit this sink hole located somewhere along the coastal road going to Sur.What’s more,its within walking distance from the parking lot. Not really tiring.There are restrooms/shower rooms provided for those who want to take a swim at the Dibab Lake Park.

The High Country

Featuring: THE GREEN MOUNTAIN – AL JABAL AL AKHDAR Conquering  The  Sayq Plateau or the “High Country of Oman” within the Al Jabal Al Akhdar Mountain Range.

High Altitude Picnic at  the plains of  Sayq Plateau

Staying in Oman for the  most part of  my  life in the last 6 years has given me enough reason to be an outdoor person.During off days from work as an expat, my activities evolve around simply by spending time mostly in the flatlands frolicking in the wide expanse of the (Gulf of Oman) coast  swimming , fishing , crab hunting, or enjoying watersports. For me it was the only   recreational diversion I could think of  to counter the sweltering heat  during the summer months. Though I’ve been  hearing enough of the mountain ranges towering at great heights that some have visited, it just did not sink in  my mind to even think about ever trekking a towering plateau.

The trail that leads to the top of Al Jabal Al Akhdar---The Green Mountain.Join me as I take you for a ride to the so called High country in Oman.
The trail that leads to the top of Al Jabal Al Akhdar—The Green Mountain.Join me as I take you for a ride to the so called High country in Oman.

For one , I’ve grew  up in a high-altitude cold city in the north of the country of my birth at 5,000 ft above sea level and grew accustomed to the road travel going down and up thru a 33-km treacherous and winding road that has gone thru many mishaps and accidents but to ever attempt climbing to even higher at about 10,000 ft  just to cool off  never really, really  crossed my mind . Not until I met a   US   couple who were so enamored with wild life adventure and long trips within the interior or outskirts of  Oman.

They were a huge influence to me about exploring the great places that are already within the vicinities – the wadis, the falajs, forts, and of course the jabals. Yes Jabals or simply mountains. There would be plenty of them in  Oman  some   small some big. So, that when the opportunity came on one Friday morning church service I attended, a voice blurted from the microphone out of the pulpit and an announcement is being made about an upcoming activity. It did not take long for me to decide to join a scheduled picnic that would take place—yes! at  one of the great mountaintops in Oman that was most often talked about -Al Jabal Al Akhdar, otherwise referred to as The Green Mountain.

Our vehicles are strategically parked beneath this imposing castle near Nizwa. When all have taken a few minutes to relax a bit and stay fresh, we cant wait any longer for the big push to the top.

Incidentally, this mountain range reminds me of another Green Mountain that I visited in the Northern African country of Libya way way back in 1997 while working as an expat and doing writing on the side for a Philippine community paper  as a columnist.

But just to remind those who don’t know yet, there is that documented  highest point indeed within this Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountain range that is not part of our itinerary, the Jabal Shams  otherwise called “the mountain of the sun”, rising to a staggering 3,000 metres (around 9,800 feet) high.The highest point in Oman and the whole of eastern Arabian Peninsula. I’d love to explore this giant mount someday.

As we made our way up to the Rose Garden of the Jabal, we happen to pass by an old Omani abandoned house built of limestones.

If ever there is the opportunity to unwind from rigorous work activity, what better way to schedule a trip than to do it on summer! Bravo…I was one of those  eager to go and was among the early registrants.Our close friends came along and so with my family. The date: April 13,2012. It was a humid day in Muscat.Perfect day for the trip.I was told that  2-wheeled sedan cars are not allowed because of the daring uphill blind curves and bumpy roads near the end which any SUV would have little trouble to negotiate the climbs. So I parked my Nissan Tiida sedan car , and boarded one of the SUVs available – a 2.7L Toyota Fortuner.Ten SUVs were deployed.We assembled from the churchyard  and at long last, all SUVs revved up together one after the other with their wide-grinning passengers.All powerful engines roared off the road  and sped up the whole route for the next 3 hours on a motorcade scene …  to this  ideallic place.

West Hajar Mountains and beyond.Pointing towards the direction of Jabal Shams, the highest peak in Oman at about 3000M.

What seems to be peculiar about this towering mountain, also known in the monicker  High Country (of Oman), if anyone were to be surprised is that, this part of Jabal Al Akhdar we wanted to trek was on a plateau, which is  unlike any mountain with pointed tops but on a vast expanse of barren wasteland and arid surface called the Sayq Plateau. I took note of  some stoney surfaces and arid land jotted with junipers and other wild plants providing ideal grounds for relaxation and walking or overnight camping for backpackers, trekkers, hikers and campers.

The cold environment also allow a number of villages about 30 or so  of them to enjoy fresh mountain air the whole year round. I am particularly wary about the settlers, mainly the villagers who live here and who will use the road that link Jabal to the outside world.

Stones  are all over.Barren grey limestone rocks.Hard to imagine how old they are.Al Jabal Al Akhdar is a huge anticline flanked by hard limestones of Jurassic to Cretaceous age.
Stones are all over the area.Barren grey limestone rocks.Hard to imagine how old they are.Al Jabal Al Akhdar is a huge anticline flanked by hard limestones of Jurassic to Cretaceous age.

Perhaps it is safe to say that they are used to travelling the mountain slopes, treacherous as ever, with sharp bends and very steep at some points.  The plateau is home to isolated villages whose people live amongst the rocky peaks. These same peaks provide the traveller with opportunities for walking and trekking, wildlife spotting, canyoning, exploration by 4WD, stunning views and an opportunity to meet local people.

Cliffhanger: This view provides a perfect movie-like setting…

Noticeable on the day we travelled are other trekkers as well also in SUVs and 4WDs.The expat community of white people are some of the avid climbers to the Green Mountain but there are also a mix of different nationalities who enjoy climbing this mountain.It just makes me wonder why the place have not blossomed into a big city in a high place just like the mile high city of Denver in the US  or  the summer capital of the Philippines in Baguio City, both of which straddle into a mountain top about 5,000 ft or so in  altitude.

As I have come to know,Sayq Plateau is a large, over 2000M plus high limestone plateau located on the Western Hajar Mountains in Oman, forming part of the coastal mountain ranges. It is  part of Al Jabal Al Akhdar. Cool summer is enjoyed by the would be  visitor with fresh air surrounded by breathtaking stones.

The Entourage::Composed mainly of people of diverse nationalities but as one body of worshippers all enjoying God’s Wonders of Nature. They all came along loaded in 10 SUVs.

With a  temperature which is much cooler, at 15-20 degrees Celsius less than on the coast, it is therefore not surprising for any backpacker to experience the coolness of the area that serves as a perfect hideaway to escape the summer heat.

Standing proudly and unperturbed by the cliff below them.

Mountain trekking in Oman in the mist and rain, on the over 2000M Sayq plateau with its gargantuan canyons offers any adventurist  a full package of worthwhile pleasure and alluring travel. A travel freak myself, whether in the mountains or the forest or the desert, it has been always my passion taking nice shots on  the places I tread upon and explore.

Please join me as I take you for a ride to the 3 phases of the trek we did:

  • The thrilling ride towards the  summit.
  • The Village Walk (our own short version ending at the Rose Garden)
  • Reel time view of Princess Diana’s Peak

Short Overview of Our 1-day Jaunt to the Mountains :

1.Climb to the Summit

Muscat to Jabal Al Akhdar total distance covered: Over 160 km in 2.5 hours at normal speed.
@ the checkpoint
The base of the summit and stopover @ Police checkpoint.
We just simply have to be get cleared by the authorities before starting our climb.
Our First Stop at the Summit.This is where we finally camped! The dirt road ends up here and this overhanging rockface was perfect for us providing comfort and shelter against the sun.

2.Engaging in Village Walk

Staircase Climb to the Rose garden
The pace gets a little bit relaxed going downhill in this part of the Village Walk.
The Rose Garden.The rose stands out not just as an item of ecological importance but also as a source of income for the inhabitants The desert rose (Adenium obesum) which exudes sweetly scented flowers is used in the making of rose water.

3. Breathtaking View @ Princess Diana’s Viewpoint

Welcome aboard Princess Diana’s Peak!–by Ma.GinaBE
This view captures the villages standing atop and the garden plots amidst the gorge.
In a frenzy at the thought that I have reached this point–The princess Diana’s Point. Looking further beyond my back on the other side of the plateau is where Rose Garden is located.

Please Hang on for more interesting sights by Just Clicking on the videoclip: Thank you, by LikeableFellow/Estera/billybrownM

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