25-Nov-2002 -- We spent three weeks in November/December 2002 (straddling the Islamic Ramaḍān/`Īdu-l-Fiṭr holidays) travelling in Oman. The furthest our circuit took us from our home in Riyāḍ, Saudi Arabia, was the southern city of Ṣalāla, where we visited our first urban confluence point at 17N 54E. On the way south we visited 21N 57E, 20N 56E, and 18N 54E; and on the way to the east coast of Oman (on our return) we visited 18N 55E, 18N 56E and 19N 57E. In all we motored 8,300 km.
Having visited 21N 57E
after lunch, we returned yet again to the Masqaṭ-Ṣalāla highway and covered 175 km south before leaving it and heading west for about 30 km by a combination of rough track and real off road. In this area there is much more Oil Company activity, and we had to avoid rigs, piping, and Oil Company camps. Next to the confluence point was an area of very fine dust/sand
, judging by the many tracks a weekend entertainment destination for oil crews, to practice and show off their sand driving skills. We tried to choose the least demanding route through, but even so got caught
in one patch where we had to sweep sand from in front of our tyres and then plough our way out using low ratio and diff lock.
In contrast the Confluence itself was an island of firm desert, with a lunar surface of small rocks in the sand. Having seen a fox at 21N 57E it seemed unsurprising to startle a desert hare here.
As it was dusk, we decided to camp at the Confluence, with the distant glimmer of rig lights adding to the splendour of the night sky well away from city light pollution.
Continued at 18N 54E.