SURVIVING SANDSTORMS: From SECRET CAVES to the mountains of JEBEL AKHDAR
(pensive music) From secret caves on the coast to the almighty mountains of Oman, through sand storms and over sandy trails to the rugged heart of the country. A challenging ride from Al Khaluf to Jebel Akhdar. (pensive music) (dramatic music) - So I woke up today looking a little bit like Quasimodo because something bit me in my eye down here. And we're in Al Khaluf today.
And we will go to the famous caves here now. Ready for a new day of adventure. (tranquil music) - Good morning, everyone. Yesterday we arrived so late here and when we finally found the place to stay, the sun was going down already. So we couldn't do anymore what we were here for and that is visiting some secret caves on the ocean that a local told us about the day before yesterday.
So I'm very curious now about these little secret caves. I hope we even find them. (lively music) Even though the Humrat cave is definitely the most famous attraction in the area, don't expect any road signs that tell you the way.
Instead, we hit a track through the sand and dunes at the end of Al Khaluf village and tried to follow the previous tire marks, which was not as easy and clear as it sounds. (lively music) - So there are actually quite a few tracks here and on the right and even on the left, and they go actually in different directions. I actually don't know which to follow. I always try to pick the one that looks most used but I don't know if that's right. - If Google's right, we're too far already. But somehow this looks good now.
- Ja. - Where do you think we should go? - I mean, this looks like a lot of people are driving. I don't know. - That we can do. - Let's drive forward and see. (motorbike roaring) - Let's go up here.
I hope there is not a cliff right behind the climb because from here you can't see at all what is up there... ...but nice. It seems like a place with a nice view, and now let's look for these caves. (pensive music) - Now we're on our excursion. We walked until we got a better overview of the surroundings and from the high top of a cliff, probably 30 meters above the sea, we indeed spotted a rock formation that looked like the cave that we had seen on the pictures of the local who suggested us to go here.
And right behind these rocks, we saw some human-built walls. So we now knew which direction to go and what to look for. - Now we were scared that we don't find our bikes again but here they are. - Our breakfast today.
What our landlord yesterday gave us. (lively music) - You see that in the distance on the right side? There I think are the walls that we saw. So there should be the cave. (lively music) - Here I think is the entrance. I actually wonder if there was a time where there were more tourists here. It feels a little bit like everything is ready here for big cave tourism with these sheltered walls.
But the roads and surrounding doesn't feel like it at all. I mean, it's super remote here. - Second try to find Al Khaluf, the caves, and I think this time we're really at the right spot. On our arrival, at this time, hopefully the right cave, it was so windy that we barely heard our own words. And I immediately spotted a hole in the rock formation that looked like an entrance to the cave. (lively music) - So this little hole you have to get through.
It's not very big. But then this is the view. How cool.
(water splashing) The Humrat Cave is only one of Oman's stunning natural rock formations. Indeed, big parts of Oman's coast boasts cliffs and rugged mountains to explore. Over time, the cave of Khaluf has risen in popularity and nearly everyone who travels to the rather remote village of Al Khaluf has the cave on their itinerary. The opening to the cave is on the right side and it leads into a chamber that eventually opens up into the sea.
(inspirational music) - That's the easier way out than we went in. And out. (lively music) - Let's ride back to Al Khaluf downtown. There's supposed to be a petrol station and we really need some fuel, but somehow, I have not seen the petrol station yet. I guess that's the next thing that we have to look for. It really is never getting boring in old Al Khaluf.
Always something to look for. (lively music) - Excuse me. - Yeah. - Petrol. Okay, thank you. - Seems like the petrol station of Al Khaluf is not exactly on the main road but more the harbor.
So it's not a big surprise that we didn't see it before. (pensive music) Nestled between the boats of the fishermen of Al Khaluf, right at the harbor, this was probably the petrol station with the most scenic ocean view that I had ever visited. (pensive music) (birds cawing) - Wow, I can't get over how beautiful this petrol station is situated. I mean, look at these views. I have never been at a petrol station so beautifully situated right at the ocean.
That I can promise you. (pensive music) We started our ride back to the main road and it quickly turned out that the caves had not been the only windy place. Strong side winds started to blow the sand over the road and the further we went, the more difficult it got to keep the motorcycles upright. - I hope this wind is only local here and that the main road is hopefully more sheltered but I guess so. I mean, it's probably always much worse closer to the coast with the wind.
(dramatic music) Of course, I was not right. When we turned onto the main road, the wind had only reached an even stronger pace. (dramatic music) - It's so crazy windy. You really have to take care how to park the bike.
My travel partner parked his bike now in the opposite direction of the road because we are scared that they tip over. (dramatic music) - Wow, this wind. Ow. Pooh. This truck that was like a fist hitting me and the bike with big force because of the winds. Wow, what a ride already.
Really painful with this wind. (dramatic music) The further we got, the stronger the winds became. (dramatic music) - Look at this sand here on the road. It is actually surprising that on a day like this, the road is not completely buried under sand yet.
You would think that this ride on these straight roads through desert is super easy but I tell you, it's actually physically and mentally demanding. You really have to be very careful and my whole body already aches from the wind. It's really, really tiring.
I didn't expect that when we took off today. (lively music) - So I guess that's why you still see the road because they try to get rid of the sand with a digger. I don't know if that helps. Yeah, I don't know. This is not nice because the sand on the tarmac is more slippery than sand on sand and you really can't see whenever there's a car coming from the other direction because they just push up all the sand and it's like a wall of sand if you meet another car.
Really terrible conditions to ride. (dramatic music) Without a doubt, it was a tiring 250-kilometer ride from Al Khaluf to Sinaw, the next bigger town. Much more tiring than we had anticipated because we were not even able to stop properly due to the danger of our bikes just flipping over in the winds. (lively music) - It can't be that far anymore to the town Sinaw.
The sand is as well getting much less and the wind gets finally better too. And it's just in time because we need to fill up our bikes and as well get something to eat. I'm starving. We didn't even have breakfast yet and then this exhausting ride. (pensive music) At the next petrol station, I met some camel friends and in our usual tradition, we ordered an egg sandwich at the roadside restaurant.
- Today I got a different version of egg sandwich but that's the way to go. Delicious. - Until now, I didn't even realize how tiring this ride in the strong winds really was. My whole head is like still vibrating but we survived it and it's now not too far anymore to our next destination and that are the famous mountains of Oman.
(lively music) The part of Oman that lies north of the city Sinaw is much more populated than its south. And at the same time, its infrastructure regarding hotels, restaurants, and shops is much more developed. - Here we see them, first glimpse of the almighty mountains of Oman.
That's where we are going today and that is where we will spend the next days riding. (lively music) - Guys, I hate to admit it but after a few days now on the remote coast, my travel partner and I are literally dreaming of a cool gin tonic and I will tell you a little secret, after all the days camping and staying at these more private places, we booked a hotel for tonight so that the dream of the gin tonic can become reality because you can only get alcohol in hotels. Yeah, pretty exciting. But I guess we are as well very standard tourists that just want to have a drink. To carry or consume alcohol is forbidden in Oman but all bigger hotels usually have an exemption and are allowed to serve their guests alcoholic drinks.
So if you want to have an alcoholic drink in Oman, you need to stay at a proper hotel. Our goal for this day was the mountain range Jebel Akhdar. The name means translated the green mountain and the range rises to a height of 2,980 meters. Jebel Akhdar is famous for its mild Mediterranean climate that enables pomegranates, apricots and roses to grow in abundance.
This mostly limestone mountain is one of the highest points in Oman. (lively music) - We are now approaching the mountains and for the first time, a good view here. And temperature already dropped by 10 degrees. Unbelievable that we just went from basically 0 sea level to 1,800 meters. (lively music) - Woo hoo, these mountains here are like a cool breeze.
Temperature already dropped from I think 35 degrees Celsius to 19 degrees Celsius now. What a difference 2,000 meters of altitude can make. (lively music) - We are approaching a super special place now. Definitely the most luxury accommodation that we have visited so far on this trip. But I think we have earned it and I really wanted to stay there because to me it felt like it's maybe a once-in-a-lifetime location that this hotel is located at. So I'm very excited.
(upbeat music) - Here you see the sign, Alila. That's our hotel. Gin tonic, here we come.
(upbeat music) - Wow, yes, this already looks very nice but to be honest, it feels as well a bit strange after we have stayed at so many local places. Maybe it feels a bit artificial but I think we will get over it pretty quick if we get a bed tonight that has no plastic cover under its sheet. That will probably be very nice. The hotel, Alila Jebel Akhdar is one of those rare places where the architects did everything right. It is definitely one of the most luxurious hotels in the whole area. But still, it feels like the stone buildings nestle into the natural surroundings harmoniously, preserving the natural beauty of the region.
(tranquil music) - Who drives hard as well can spa hard. I gonna get a massage now. (tranquil music) (tranquil music) Perched over 2,000 meters above sea level, Alila Jebel Akhdar provides you direct access to the magnificent landscape of untouched beauty.
The hotel is overlooking a dramatic gorge and with the sight of the Al Hajar Mountains, the views can't get much more jaw-dropping than here. (inspirational music) Did I make you guys envious with the spectacular views? Sorry, not sorry. But I would still be happy if you liked this episode and if you leave me a comment and give this video a thumbs up. In the next episode, we will already leave this little paradise again. We will nearly get stuck in a spectacular canyon, visit an historic old town and get to know the coolest person of this trip so far on the remote top of a mountain.
Like always, tune in next Thursday to join the ride. (lively music) (motorbike roaring)