Tuesday 23 October 2007

Oman: Wahiba to Ras Al Hadd

Before departure, the girls attempted to master sand skiing. Panting heavily, Tracy realised that the few moments of pleasure going down the dunes are outweighed by the effort walking back up again.

The next item to tick off the list was a camel ride. Sophie and Lauren sat with grace and poise as the grumpy beast lumbered around with reluctance. Tracey's mount and dismount were less elegant.

And so to the next destination. The 195km journey from the Wahiba to Ras Al Hadd included the rare sight of a dead camel. We stopped in Sur to look across the bay at the ancient shipyard and gleaming white houses beyond. We continued, steering around several un-repaired holes from Gonu.

At the Turtle Beach Resort we immediately took possession of a few sun beds. The women chatted and swam in the warm sea while the chaps snoozed. Mrs M found a Moray Eel with an enormous head to add to her list of unbelievable fishing stories.

After dark, voracious appetites were satisfied with grilled animal parts and the resort's culinary specialty, chips (the best in Oman in our opinion). We had barely digested our food when it was time to drive to see the turtles.

After a briefing by the Head Warden, we had to wait for the turtles to be at the right stage in the egg-laying process. We held a few of the tiny rubbery (small) baby turtles collected by the wardens which are retuned to the sea in darkness to avoid predators.

We gathered around an elephant turtle as she dropped her eggs, unflustered by the audience and occasional fiddling around her lower region by the warden. Another creature lumbered back to sea, utterly exhausted, floating in the surf for a few seconds before speeding out to the safety of the deep sea. Once again, despite warnings from the guides, one person demonstrated an inability to master the technological demands of a camera as the flash blinded a turtle which may never return to this beach. The wardens should have hit it with a hammer.

We drove back to the camp at midnight, having added one more item to the Medwell's 'awesome' list.

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