Sunday, August 5, 2012

Zighy Bay: Rugged Relaxation in Oman

There are very few ways to beat the heat on the Arabian Peninsula during the summer. Once the weather turns the whole region is engulfed in a blanket of haze and oppressive heat. In a search for ways to keep cool and due for another adventure, we set off for a little weekend away at the Six Senses resort in Zighy Bay, Oman. The resort is hidden behind the gargantuan Hajar Mountains, on the little-known Musandam Peninsula on the northernmost tip of Oman just 2 hours from Dubai.

Any good road trip starts with a sweet ride, and luckily for us my love of millinery (and the resulting Best Hat honors) has given us the use of a Jaguar XK for the weekend. When she was dropped off, sporting a beautiful candy apple red finish, Matt was all smiles!

See it's worth it to support your wife's custom hat habit...
Once you arrive at the resort you have to switch to a 4x4 vehicle to traverse the mountains.  Sorry Jag, this road wasn't built for you.
With our transportation, and accommodations set we had one final decision to make, mode of arrival. The resort offers an overland transfer via 4x4, a speedboat ride, or the chance to paraglide in from the mountain tops down to the white sand beach.  I’ll let you guess which one Matt wanted to do…

After paragliding for the first time in Germany two years ago, Matt’s been desperate to do it again, and he’s been insisting that I give it a try.  I knew the more I thought about it the more terrified I would get, so I made the split second decision to just do it!
You want me to run off what?
As they suited me up in the harness, the Omani staff member told me that I must be scared because he could literally see my heart beating out of my chest.  My blood was pumping and my stomach was in knots, and the brief instructions – “when I tell you to run, just run off the cliff” – were not helping to ease my nerves.   I was told that once we were in the air I would then sit in the harness.  When the moment came, a mix of adrenaline and momentary confusion meant that I immediately popped into my harness leaving the instructor to run us both of the cliff!  Worked for me, but apparently this is not how to take off.

The instructor said that this was one of the best days for flying that he had seen in months.  If I was going to do it - it was now or never!

Once in the air the feeling was incredible.  Now I understand what those birds are always chirping about.  The chance to soar along the cliffs riding the thermals, while drifting with the sea breeze was once in a lifetime.  It is a moment of weightlessness and pure bliss (albeit mixed with continued nervousness). 
Matt was looking and feeling a lot more confident.
You definitely want the guy controlling the parachute to be smiling.
Walking on sunshine...
You can can definitely appreciate the scenery better with a birds-eye view!

Matt's an excellent camera man at 1,000 feet.
When we final got to the bottom there were only a few friends to greet us.  (Since when can goats climb trees?)
The Resort resembles in many ways a traditional Omani village, with narrow passages between the individual villas and palm shaded, sandy roads and is an almost car-free environment.  We really enjoyed our plunge pool which at 90 degrees was still 20 degrees cooler than the air.  Sunscreen required!

Until now, only a few fishermen and elders of the village have enjoyed its unspoilt beauty, kept safe from tourism and progress by unassailable mountains and hostile terrain. But the wonders of technology, all-terrain vehicles and the unstoppable search for the few remaining undiscovered corners of the world have aided in its discovery and cultivation.

Until 30 years ago, the Musandam belonged to the Shihuh tribes who lived in scattered villages between the peaks. Once oil was discovered, the peninsula had to be allied to either the UAE or Oman, and the Shihuh opted to become Omani. Many were given homes in towns and now the only remaining inhabitants are lone Pakistani goatherds.

A sunset cruise was the perfect way to survey some of the surrounding environment.
The scenery was desolate, rugged and beautiful.

This limestone outcropping has been worn into a sea cave.
This is a picture of the sun...
...this is a picture of the moon.
We were treated to the most fantastic full moon.  Based on the blazing sun during the day, we got some fantastic light at night.
The water was fantastic, warm and clear - but the sand was sizzling!  We had to head to the pool to cool off from the beach!
An oasis in the desert.
Matt brought along some big boy toys and started photographing with some of the new camera lens optics I got him for Christmas.  I love this one of the dates hanging from the palm tree. 
All good things must come to an end, but we eased our pain with a wonderful send off dinner in our villa.


jimdad said...

Wow, you keep finding the most amazing places to visit (and modes of transportation).

'Can't wait for you to find some like this for us in Virginia!

Anonymous said...

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I have quiestion for u and I hope u answear :)

Im moving to Dubai next week and im wondering what is the legal age to drink alcohol there? Is it 21?
I dont drink alcohol but I like to go to clubs.. I like to meet people and dance and listening good music. So is there any place where 19years old can go? As I said I dont mind if I cant get alcohol but my friend can get who is 20... Confusing queations.

I like ur blog btw! :)

Unknown said...

Musandam Dibba is a lovely place, i suggest everyone to come here on vocation peaceful place.

Unknown said...

I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. Your pictures have me really excited about the trip.
Musandam Dibba