From the moment we went up the mountain to get to Shalim, I was very much aware of the fact that we had to go down that mountain at some point. Going up and down steep (-ish) mountains by car is not the easiest thing for me to do and not my favourite either, but on the other hand, it cannot be denied that when driving in the mountains, you’re exposed to the most spectacular views there are. The most picturesque part of the journey was between just after Shalim and Sadah, because afterwards we left both the coast and the mountains and it was dark before we got to Mirbat.
After Shalim the landscape began to change, from a flat desert to mountains again, and there it was: a sharp downhill road. I braced myself, changed the gear from automatic to manual and applied a low gear as per B.’s precise instructions. What began to appear in front of us was perhaps one of the three most, if not THE most spectactular view I have ever seen in my entire life. It really is hard to describe the majesty of this place, the awe it inspires and the respect it commands.
We carried for on a little longer and the most splendid turquoise sea eventually appeared before us. We drove for a while with the stunning sea on the left and the magnificent mountains on the right. The beauty of the place was such that we eventually gave in, stopped and went to the beach which was basically right next to us. It was like a scene from the Narnia story when Aslan shows the children his country, or at least that’s how I imagined it when I was reading the book. That particular beach must have been the most breathtaking and extraordinary place I have been to – it felt like the edge of the world to me, like the end of times, like there is nothing else beyond, like it’s home… It was mesmerising!!!
The mountainous road until Sadah ran almost parallel to the coast with regular twists and turns in the mountains. Obviously, we had to go much more slowly than we did the previous day, so the fact that on Day 1 we covered much longer a distance than we had initially planned, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We also stopped several times at view points to take photos and have some rest, but most importantly – experience the spectacular surroundings. These videos were made somewhere between Ash Shuwaymiyyah and Sadah.
In Sadah the road took us inside the land again and we didn’t see the sea again that day, because by the time we got to the coastal Mirbat, 73 km away from Salalah, it was dark. Fortunately, the road from Mirbat to Salalah was lit, though there were also quite a few diversions. We never made it for 5 pm, because we didn’t really know we would spend the majority of the day driving in the mountains, which obviously slowed us down, though we loved it thoroughly. Shalim-Sadah was undoubtedly the most beautiful 200 km in my life, but also enormously tiring. When we got to the accomodation at around 8.30pm, we were shattered, but extremely happy, too.
We had planned to spend one day in Salalah, but decided to stay on an extra day, which I’ll describe in detail in the next post.