Dhows, with their slanting triangular lateen sails, evoke photos of exotic ports like Muscat and Zanzibar, of merchants becoming driven across the Indian Ocean by monsoon winds, of pearl divers, fishermen and smugglers. Although nevertheless utilized for trading along the coasts of the Gulf, Oman and the horn of Africa, dhows are a relaxing way for travelers to appreciate a day on the water and none much more so than plying the sheltered khors, or finger-like inlets, of Oman's Musandam peninsula.
Although every person's encounter is distinct, there are at least 3 main highlights amongst the host of pleasures throughout the day.
- The physical landscape of Khor Ash-Sham
- The pods of dolphins
- Snorkeling and swimming in the crystal waters
The seventeen-kilometer-lengthy inlet of Khor Ash-Sham is a mysterious location of silent grandeur. Long claws of rocks attain out into the glitter waters and formations seem like petrified monsters from the deep, or from some prehistoric globe, whilst mauve, ochre and rust-colored limestone heights soar 900-1200 meters into the air. When a heat or dust haze, brought by southerly winds from the Empty Quarter, hangs more than the location, the landscape resembles some thing out of the Lord of the Rings, and as the sun sinks low in the afternoon sky, there is virtually a sinister really feel about the darkening and shadowy heights. Five tiny isolated stone fishing and herding villages scattered along the khor, sitting precariously at the foot of slopes that endure periodic rock falls, are the only indicators of human habitation in this breathtaking stark land.
For most individuals, the look of the dolphins is the highlight of the day. They seem as if summoned by some invisible force from out of now and, for forty minutes or so, play very first on a single side of the dhow, then diving underneath, reappear to frolic on the other. They prove fairly a challenge to the avid photographers.
Each dhow has its personal provide of snorkeling gear and there is an extended break for enjoying the aqua waters off the tiny, flat-topped Telegraph Island (Jazirat al Maqlab), a renowned landmark. It was when the website of a British telegraph station for 5 years, established in 1864, to safeguard the very first telegraph cable that ran from India, by means of Musandam to basra in Iraq. The waters off the island are filled with grouper, snapper, manta rays, turtles and hundreds of the tiny compressed disk-shaped butterfly fish pecking at the coral polyps with their thin snouts. As they dart in and out of rock formations, their intricate patterns and vivid hues catch the diffused shafts of sunlight that penetrate the turquoise shallows.
As effectively as these highlights, there are several pleasures: the scrumptious meals conjured up by the captain, the likelihood to trail a fishing line behind the boat, watch the huge floating and roving flocks of birds and the altering colors of the cliffs, or permit the khor's silence and the dhow's gentle motion to lead you into a meditative state.
Author: Pamela Bradley