Reaching the Hidden Jewel in Arabia’s Crown
Feeling at home outside your comfort zone sounds like a contradiction in terms. But once you reach the plateau of Oman’s jaw-droppingly beautiful Hajar mountain range after three hours’ gruelling uphill, off-road motorcycling, you’ll know where you belong.
Despite the sweat, exertion and dull ache of muscles you never knew you had, ascending the precipitous, snake-like path 150kms outside the Omani capital, Muscat, rewards you with a vista beyond compare.
The steep, sandy passage way strewn with steel-coloured scree and slippery shale, flanked by terracotta boulders and towering antediluvian rock formations scintillating in the Arabian sun forms part of a package offered by Oryx Adventures, a newly-launched motorcycle tour company.
The trek up the 800 million-year-old massif near Mudayrib – the only place on Earth where the Moho, the boundary surface between the planet’s crust and its mantle is visible – is not for the faint hearted: you’ll need to be an experienced off-road biker immune to the paralysis of ‘WTF’ moments as you calculate sheer drops on barrier-free mountain ‘roads’.
But for sheer exhilaration and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s hard to beat.
The sultanate of Oman occupies the far eastern and southern cusp of the expansive Arabian peninsula and is on a big push to attract tourists to its many unspoilt hinterlands. Vast tracts of vertiginous wilderness are being made navigable by new, relatively empty twisting roads throughout the country – perfect for motorcycling and cycling enthusiasts alike.
Meanwhile, breath-takingly verdant destinations like Salalah in the far south boast cool crystal water springs, the spectacular Wadi Darbat, Arabian leopards, gazelles, ibex, wolves and big game fishing. Vivid pink flamingos, spoonbills and oystercatchers that flock along the coastal strip at Al Wusta on Oman’s east coast strip make for a twitcher’s paradise.
The sultanate is the home of frankincense, too; it may surprise the uninitiated that this scented gum typically burnt as a deeply aromatic incense also comes in a range of ice creams and honey.
While hiking, driving and even scuba diving off the Musandam isthmus – the ‘Norway of Arabia’ – are all engaging, off-road motorcycling still takes the biscuit when it comes to how you explore this hidden jewel in Arabia’s crown.
A peaceable, polite and disarmingly beguiling people, Omanis will wave, smile and typically offer any assistance you may need as you stop for a breather or to savour some delicious local lamb or chicken schwarma (a traditional rolled-bread sandwich) and milky, sweet tea.
Tackling steadily rising gradients on a enduro-based adventure bikes takes a bit of getting used to for off-road virgins. Counterintuitively, you have to stand almost erect on the bike’s footpegs, tilting forward to lower the machine’s centre of gravity and to maximise stability on slithering, pitched surfaces. Once you’ve mastered it and gained confidence, though, that ‘eureka’ moment makes you feel you’ve done it all your life. For the adventure of a lifetime, little comes closer than discovering Arabia’s hidden jewel on two wheels.
What’s included on Overnight, Multi-day Tours
- Motorcycle Rental and Protective Clothing, Boots and Helmet
- All Accommodation
- Breakfast every day
- Snacks, water and soft drinks while on the road
- Support and Safety vehicle (can accommodate up to 3 passengers)
- Spare bike for breakdowns
- Tour guide
- Entrance fees and admin for entry into national parks
- Gift pack
- Access to satellite phone, pay per minute
What’s not included
- Visas – VIP visa processing can be arranged. Please see optional extras section
- Personal items
- Personal travel and medical insurance
- Meals and beverages excluding breakfast
- Hotel stay the night before departure. If you require hotel accommodation the night before the tour, please see the optional extras section.