27-Oct-2006 -- During an Oman 3500 km round trip we decided to visit the southernmost Confluence in Oman only 3 km north of the border to Yemen and the second last Confluence at land. Situated as it was so close to Yemen, we could foresee that we could have some problems reaching the Confluence, when knowing that there in the recent past have been some tensions between Oman and Yemen. On Google maps we managed to find some tracks which maybe could get us as close as 300 meters from the Confluence. But there were a lot of question marks - among others: could we cross some of the very deep wādiys (wādiy is the Arabic name for a ravine/gorge) in our cars?
We started at 07:00 from Salāla and reached the starting point at a very small dirt track at around 10:00 more or less on schedule. After one hour of driving we reached a very deep wādiy. There was a small track going down and even though it was made for a small Landrover, we (in our 3 big Toyota Prados) managed to get down... but we now knew that getting back would be a challenge.
Getting up at the other side of the wādiy was also a problem – the place we had to drive up was covered with a lot of small (5 -10 cm) stones and the slope was pretty steep. But after trying a couple of times and driving fast... very fast, it was possible.
All 3 cars managed to pass this point, but then we had to drive up a very steep rock edge – and then it happened. The first car couldn't make it – there was a big "bang" as if a tire exploded. But actually it was the automatic air high control system which was damaged. 2 hours later this small problem was temporarily fixed. And we had also built a small road under very competent supervision and participation from Jørgen, who in his past actually has constructed roads, even though in a bigger scale.
Now the clock was 13:30 and initially we had planned to be back at the starting point at 13:00, but everyone was now very determined to get to the Confluence. Finally at 14:45 we reached the planned point where we had to leave our vehicles and continue on foot. We had to pass one deep wādiy and luckily we managed to find our way down and up without too many problems. At 15:10 we at last reached the Confluence 3–4 hours later that expected. All of us were very pleased and we took the needed pictures and a lot more.
On the trip back we had to build a small road again at the Landrover track and only 2 cars got some small scratches in the bumpers... We reached the starting point at around 18:00 when it was getting dark. Just before we reached the gravel road, suddenly a military 4x4 jeep came from nowhere and stopped 50 m in front of our first car. The light machinegun was aiming at our 3 cars... and it was loaded with live ammunition. More soldiers could be seen in front and at our left side all pointing their rifles at us... in other words, we were in the middle of a classic ambush and a pretty nice one.
The soldier in charge was very polite – he asked us what we were doing so close to the border. Apparently he was satisfied with our answer and he ordered the soldiers to safety all their weapons... but they were still loaded. Then he invited all of us to follow him to their garrison. We of cause agreed to do that... but I don't think that we actually had a choice.
After the escorted trip, one jeep in front and one in the back, we reached the small garrison. When the soldiers dismounted, they unloaded their weapons, which was a good sign. We were invited inside to have tea and watermelon.
Again they asked us what we had been doing and if we had crossed the border to Yemen. They told us that they had observed our drive to the Confluence but due to the many wādiys they couldn't reach us during the day – which probably was very good because maybe they had stopped our attempt to reach the Confluence.
Luckily they were pleased with our explanations and then they apologized for stopping us – but as they told us, "they had to do their duty", which we of course fully understood.
All in all it was a very interesting visit at the camp and as long as we had reached the Confluence point and were allowed to continue without too much delay - it was a very positive experience. The Omani people are always very kind and their hospitality is enormous. At around 19:30 we drove out of the camp and continued the 4 hours drive to Šisr, also known as Ubar (the Lost City).