Last year I shouted to my old man through his hearing trumpet about some grand plans I had to go to Oman and enjoy a beach to mountain top holiday. Omicron promptly came along and put a stop to any plans we had to get away during the balmy winter months. But not so much for the old guvnor, he promptly upgraded my plans and set off with his trusty navigator for a 2 week overlanding mission covering some 2,000 miles of Oman, most of it off road.
Whilst hugely proud of my parents for jettisoning their bus passes and zimmers in favour of life off road, I was also incredibly jealous. So when the opportunity to spend Easter weekend enjoying the most non stop, adventure filled weekend we have ever taken on as a family we jumped immediately at the last minute detail free plan.
When I say detail free, I should explain. I mean almost entirely detail free, not a layer of holiday pressure we are used to, we quite like a tightly packed detail rich plan…but on this occasion we were invited to spend a night camping on a wild island off the coast of Muscat with two days notice. I didn’t even know Muscat had islands.
Before we had time to even think about how many suitcases we should pack we were skimming across the ocean in an old but very fast dive boat captained by a wonderful Omani, when out of the gloom came the Daynimat Islands. Perfect little rocky outcrops surrounded by entirely empty bays with beautiful sandy beaches which were to become the home of our snorkelling and camping activities.
Water that made a bottle of Bombay Sapphire look a bit gloomy was the home to Turtles, Sharks, Rays countless bright fish and stunning corals. As both of you reading this will remember I find snorkelling challenging, both in terms of boredom and bravery, but not here, it was stunning, utterly mesmerising. Something switched for me. I had a moment snorkelling with Lexi, and both the boys with a family of turtles between us when I genuinely thought this could be one of my happiest holiday moments ever. (Please note I have slightly romanticised this, Jack was on my back either forcing the top of my snorkel under or pulling my mask off my face…I was exhausted, couldn’t breath and had forgotten flippers so couldn’t keep up with Lexi and Archie, but the principle was lovely)
Then we camped and it only got better, Captain Assaad from Diver Cool was our tour guide, boat captain, chef and camp master. He looked after us like kings, feeding us and ensuring we had everything we needed to roll into ‘bed’ utterly content. What he couldn’t have predicted is the idyllic beach we had chosen as our camp for the night was also the precise spot all of the seagulls in the Indian Ocean choose to have a mass orgy in every night. Orgies are rarely quiet, and seagulls make no exception, so when sunrise signalled the end of the seagull gang bang our whole party was up and ready to get moving.
The next morning saw Captain Assaad dropping us into a sharks nest by 8am, hunting dolphins, fishing for tuna and eventually dropping us back into Muscat exhausted, sunburnt and smelling like bonfires that afternoon. As camping trips go this was one to not forget.
After a quick wash feed and a sleep it was the next day and were set off to take on the most epic drive of my life. We picked up a hire car loaded our luggage and head off to the Jebel Akhdar in the mountains behind Muscat.