Oman ~ Feb '18

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Spent an extended long weekend in Oman with Jono L,  flying through the night of the 21st February and landing early morning of the 22nd, visa pre done so saving time and bags collected which were loaded in to the 4x4 and off east for 3 hours stopping at Sur ..

In the harbour and along the beach were plenty of birds like Sooty, Slender-billed, Heuglin's, Steppe and Pallas's Gulls, Swift and Lesser Crested Terns, waders like Bar-tailed Godwit, Lesser and Greater Sandplovers, Terek Sandpiper and Pacific Golden Plover ...

From here we continued on towards Ras al Hadd stopping at Khawr Jirama ..

" If passable the track leads to the mangroves "

Well it certainly looked good with tyre marks going across the dry mud but we managed over half way before getting stuck and about 45 minutes of digging finally got us out again ..

This time we walked out to the mangroves and found a flock of Crab Plovers and a massive red sign saying
   " warning soft mud "

Moving on to Ras al hadd for the last of the evening light and having a recce for the following morning session and found a big flock c.500+ Pallas's Gulls.

Sunrise on the 23rd around the older and smaller airstrip at Ras al Hadd with a couple of Desert Wheatear ..

One was more than happy to let me in close ...

I went and picked up Jono so he could have a go at the wheatear and he suggested that I go out further towards the airstrip where he had Black-crowned Sparrow-lark and Pallid Swift ..

From here we had a big drive to Al Ghubrah bowl stopping at a few good sites on route Qurayyat with many Khawr near the coast, Sunub Waste site and Al Ansab lagoons only really adding to the numbers, the drive took far longer than we had planned for and arrived with only an hour of light and Al Ghubrah bowl devoid of birds..

 You wouldn't have thought it but I found a new use for small rocks here, strangely not as soft as Andrex .. 

The morning of the 24th and we headed out to Ras as Sawadi and checked the dunes to the west of the road finding a nice Desert Warbler and Southern Grey Shrike ..


The dunes to the east of the road looked promising but held only a 1st.w type Hooded Wheatear ?? and flyover Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse ..

Possible Hooded Wheatear ?

Next stop was Al Qurm Park 8km west of Old Muscat we arrived at 4pm as this is when it opens supposedly yet the park was already busy so must of opened earlier,  considering the amount of people on a daily basis the birds were skitish.

Common Myna

House Crow

Later that evening it was in to Muttrah for the souq a traditional Arab market, a great place, colourful textiles and the smell of spices before some dinner at the harbour ...

Mutrah Harbour

On the way back it was the stunning Mosques that looked amazing against the dark moon less sky ..

Masjid Alzawawi

Al Almeen 

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Morocco Family Trip ~ Feb '18

Saturday 3 March 2018

I managed to keep it a secret for over 7 months they knew that they were going on holiday but had no idea where, so on the morning of the 3rd February once we were all at Gatwick airport I revealed the location of Morocco ...

Me, my two daughters Amy & Rachel, my son Aaron and his girlfriend Amelia hired a minibus and from Marrakesh set off east over the High Atlas mountains towards Ouarzazate over a 4 hour drive stopping to take in the scenery before arriving at our first hotel  ..

 Dar Chamaa Hotel

 Dar Chamaa Hotel

The 4th Feb and another 4 hour drive towards Tinghir with a stop at Dade's Gorge ..




The 5th Feb and only a 3 hour drive towards Merzouga with the aim to arrive at our hotel in the dark !!

A stop off at Todra Gorge and then some lunch with the restaurant owner who gave the game away about where we were heading .. Thanks mate, 7 month secret blown in one sentence ..

Amelia & Aaron

I had to waste some time as it was still to light to continue on so once the sun had gone down it was only then that we made our way to Yasmina Hotel arriving in the dark and purposefully watching the stars, with no light pollution the night sky is fantastic but its so dark that they still have no idea what else is out there !! ..
Over dinner they were given a strict wake up call for 06:00am and to meet on the terrace ..

Today the 6th February and its
 my 50th Birthday
 and what better way to spend it than with my children watching the sun rise over The Erg Chebbi desert from the terrace at Yasmina .. Amazing ..





Aaron & Amelia



 With three people on the top it gives scale just to the sheer size of the dunes ...


After breakfast when asked if they would like to quad-bike through the desert they didn't need asking twice and an hour later we were going nuts it was brilliant ..

The hour flew by on the quads and we were soon back at Yasmina it was so good we arranged it again for the next morning and then it was the camel ride out to our desert camp for the night ..

 Our desert camp 

We were told that if we wanted to watch the sun go down we had better start our climb to the top of the dune ..

Back down at the camp we had dinner, then sat around the camp fire while the staff played the bongo's and we ate birthday cake what a great way to spend my birthday ..

Up early on the 7th Feb for the camel ride to watch the sunrise before carrying on back to Yasmina for our next Quad-bike craziness we all just went totally nuts blasting our way up for a small scenery stop then on to another camp for tea before more mayhem back to Yasmina ..

Sadly it was time to leave the desert and start heading back in a westerly direction for our hotel in Adgz about 100km S.E. of Ouarzazate, the afternoon was all about getting to The Lodge O'hara and having a chill ..

The 8th Feb and no rush to do much today as it was only a short drive in comparison ... 

Lodge O'hara, Adgz

Aaron & Rachel

Ait Ben haddou ancient Ksar and film set

View from the top of Ait Ben Haddou

We stayed at Hotel Irocha near Tisseldei at the base of The High Atlas.
At breakfast we were told that the mountain pass was closed due to snow should be open at 10:00am so stayed by the open fire ..
Just after 10 we were on our way up and over the scenery was stunning ..

Amelia & Aaron 

Once over The Atlas and now heading for Oukaimeden we found that this pass was closed this was a big part of the trip and they knew nothing about what was at the top so we hung about at the bottom having lunch before killing time driving further up the valley to Setti-fatma ..

On returning back to the pass it was still closed so headed for the last Hotel Riad Al Riadinou in the Ourika Valley and it was a stunner ..

The 10th Feb and we tried the Oukaimeden pass again this time its open and up we go ..
To the Ski Resort

We were now pushed for time and had to make our way down the mountain for the airport ..

What a fantastic trip ..

Love you all xx

Where are we going next or shall I keep it a secret ??