The weather was gorgeous and the sea was nice and calm for our 45 minute speed boat ride to Aquaba. We left from the Mina in Dibba and sped along the coast where the mountains dive into the sea. This part of the Arabian peninsula is called the Musandam Peninsula and is known for its dramatic fjords. In the background of the photo, you'll see the White Cliffs- some of the only limestone in the Musandam and a landmark for local sailors. The sun illuminates the White Cliffs during certain parts of the day-making the cliffs visible from many miles away.
After 45 minutes, you arrive in a bay where Aquaba is nestled into the side of the mountain. We took our shoes and socks off to jump from the boat to the shore that was covered in perfectly smooth stones and pebbles.
Once we had our shoes back on, we hiked up the hill to our Omani sponsor's vacation house on the side of the mountain. The views here are beautiful, but they were recently impacted by the power lines that were installed in the recent months, bringing power to the village for the first time.
In some places it gets quite narrow and the cliff hangs over our heads and the ledge ends. This forced us to scramble under the overhanging cliff and climb backward down the edge to another ledge we could walk along. I don't have photos of the more challenging parts, I was busy keeping myself out of the ocean.
After the section along the water, we needed to go higher up into the mountains. We climbed higher and higher toward the ridge line and I enjoyed stopping to look back over my shoulder at beautiful views of the sea.
At the ridge line, we arrived at an abandoned village. Most of its buildings were still intact, just missing the roofs. These abandoned villages are everywhere in the mountains here- but few of them are this big and intact.
One of my favorite things about these villages is the doorways. I'm so intrigued by them and there are usually pretty interesting ones in each village. So far this doorway with an amazing piece of driftwood is my favorite.
This is a cistern that used to hold water. The local people would build channels that ran down the side of the mountain and into the cistern so that during the few and brief rains, they could save as much water as possible. When this was still in use, it would have been covered to prevent evaporation.
The craziest part of the village was the jail. This is what it looks like from the outside...like a hole in the ground. The prisoner would crawl into the hole and the villagers would put a stone over the opening so he couldn't get out.
I decided to crawl inside to see what it was like after Ram told me that his local friend used to take naps in it when they went trekking. It's just the kind of place that snakes and scorpions love to hang out in, so I was pretty wary about descending into the darkness- so I yelled into the hole before I climbed in. I'm sure it did a lot of good. Ram giggled so at least someone was amused- and then he threatened to put a rock over the hole. Thankfully, there weren't any snakes or scorpions and since I'm here writing this, Ram resisted temptation.
Over the ridge line, the mountains give way to a large valley/drainage by the ocean. Lima, the town in this large valley is accessible only by boat or 3 days hiking through the mountains from Dibba, but the village has roads and cars.
On the way down, Ram's friend who was accompanying us on the trek, sprained her ankle. After discovering she couldn't put any weight on it, Ram lead us halfway down the mountain to a spot to stop and rest and went back for her. We looked up the mountain to see Ram literally running down the mountain with her on his back. Ram is a hoss. Just as Ram picked up his friend, his local friend - the one who sleeps in the jail- turned up, walking down the mountain from the same side we had come from with his son and nephew. The local friend carried Ram's pack for him while he ran down the mountain to us. Once we were all reunited, the local picked up our injured friend and carried her on his back. And what was really crazy was that he was hiking barefoot.
We descended into the valley and into the cool shade of our sponsor's date plantation. The plantation has not just dates but bees for honey, almond trees and tamarind trees. There was also a pool, but it was a bit too chilly and windy for swimming.