The 880 kilometer drive from Nizwa to Salalah was long, flat and boring. The road and horizon appeared to form one continuous mirage that never ended. The traffic was hectic, with locals and tourists from the UAE rushing down to Salalah, during Eid al-Adha. The police were celebrating the holidays with their families, so most drivers ignored the speed limit. Cars and trucks whizzed past us at the speed of light. We seemed to be the only vehicle obeying the speed limit, determined to arrive safely and without any mishaps, in spite of the heavy traffic.
We arrived safe and sound at the first petrol station and parked the car away from the busy gas pumps. This was a slight diversion, from the chaotic pace of the highway. It was a chance to stop and stretch our legs, drink some coffee, eat some snacks, queue for the bathroom and chat with other tourists. This was supposed to be a short break to relax before continuing on to Salalah. Then, the unbelievable happened – a SUV rammed into the side of the car, smashing in the door. How could the driver not see the car? I am not exactly a great driver but I could have easily turned a tractor-trailer without hitting another vehicle here. Where did he buy his driver’s license? I wanted to scream but the man was so apologetic that I stood there stunned until Robert came back. Robert was shocked at what had happened but he remained calm and called a colleague for advice on how to deal with this unexpected event. The colleague suggested that he notify the police about the crash to complete a report for insurance purposes. They didn’t need to come to the scene because there was certainly no dispute as to who was in the wrong. Robert and the driver took care of some necessary paperwork and we waited.
Thank goodness, the car was still drivable and we were able to continue the road trip. Twelve hours later we reached Salalah, checked into a hotel and went straight to bed. I took these photos just as we approached the city.As a sit in my cubicle and reflect on this long, time-consuming and monotonous drive across the desert I question my sanity. Several colleagues suggested that it would be better to fly to Salalah and rent a vehicle instead of driving. I was warned about crazy fast drivers, uninspiring scenery, dirty restrooms and limited food choices at petrol stations, rocks, sand and more sand but I didn’t listen.
For anyone considering driving from Nizwa to Salalah I strongly recommend that you ditch the idea. The savings and inconveniences along the way are not worth it. Fly to Salalah from Muscat, rent a car on arrival, and enjoy your vacation.