Discovering the mysteries of Oman’s Empty Quarter with Guide Oman

Oman Sunday 30/January/2022 20:07 PM
By: Times News Service

When Balz Abplanalp, Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation to the Sultanate of Oman, was sitting under the starry sky amidst the vast expanse of the desert dunes in the Empty Quarter, he got the feeling as if he was on a visit to another planet. It was like a world where everything seemed straight from the pages of a fiction and where the silence of the desert was broken only by the wind.

“When you stand on top of a sand dune and the wind hits your face, you feel as if you are on the top of the world,” said Balz Abplanalp.

Last November, the Swiss envoy had gone on a desert escapade to the Empty Quarter with Guide Oman.

Located in the Wilayat of Al Mazyona, the Empty Quarter is known for some of the largest sand dunes in the world. One of the largest deserts in the world, the Empty Quarter is teeming with wildlife, ranging from reptiles to various birds of prey and smaller mammals. Exploring the area is only possible by 4WD vehicle. It is recommended to go as part of a group with more than one car just in case one gets stuck in the sand.

Talking about his first impressions of Oman’s deserts, Balz Abplanalp said that the trip was more exciting and unique for him as he hasn’t seen deserts in Switzerland.

“While we crossed the huge dunes during the day and at night, we would spend time under the stars totally disconnected with the world,” he said.

Given the demanding geography of the region, the 80-member team in 50 cars not only crossed the high sand dunes but also adapted to the desert weather.

Reminiscing the adventures, Mohammed Al Zadjali, an expedition team member of Guide Oman, said that though he has made several trips to the Empty Quarter in the past, this was certainly one of the most memorable ones.

“There were about 50 cars and almost 80 people.  Balz Abplanalp had flown from Muscat to Salalah and took a car from Salalah to Thumrait. From the base camp in Thumrait, we travelled further deep inside the Empty Quarter and reached Al Hishman. As you drive through the spectacular sand dunes of Al Hishman,you can see the changing colours of the dunes.

Since this was his first experience of the Empty Quarter, Balz Abplanalp knew that there would be several challenges for him.

“There were challenges but with every challenge we got better and felt better. And whenever there was any problem the excellent rescue team from Guide Oman immediately came to help. In the Empty Quarter it was as if I was in an environment of science fiction with a strange beauty all around. Sitting with my Omani friends by the fire and under the open skies and talking and eating leisurely added to the charm,” said Balz Abplanalp while sharing his experiences.

Despite the challenges, Mohammed Zadjali said that the team’s spirit always remained high. “The weather gets harsher as we get deeper into the desert, but we were determined to not get demotivated.”

 Balz Abplanalp remembers how mesmerising it was for him to see the beauty and the geometrical shapes of the sand dunes.

“It was a feast to the eyes.” A trip that gave him a chance to witness nature in its purest form shall forever remain etched in his heart and mind.