Oman by Moto

BY KTM 1190 Adventure R
Jon and I are drawn to places which may not be on too many people’s radars. Last December we took the opportunity to ride a KTM 1190 Adventure R, 2up, into Oman.
This often overlooked country sitting in the corner of the Arabian Peninsula defies all expectations.
It’s Arab, multicultural, Ibadi Muslim, the region’s peace heaven, and an absolute monarchy, where people genuinely love their ruler. Once a sprawling empire with the capital in Zanzibar and spanning from Pakistan to East Africa, modern Oman has now shrunken to a fraction of its former size.
The KTM was waiting for us in the kingdom’s capital, Muscat. We arrived there after a flight to Dubai and another 6 hours by bus. Muscat is an ancient city dating back to around 6,000 BCE, so we devoted some time to a stroll in the Mutrah souq, to sipping chai on the elegant Corniche, and to a visit to Sultan Qaboos Palace and the Grand Mosque.
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Oman MTB
The loop
Thanks to its geopolitical location, Oman boasts one of the cheapest petrol in the world. So we planned a generous 3,500 kilometers loop for the next two weeks: zigzagging the Hajar mountain range, which covers most of the northern half of the country, then around the edge of Rub al Khali, the largest sand desert in the world, and finally back to Muscat via the coastal route hugging the Arabian Sea. An hour of intense packing and a short trip to the gas station later, we were all geared up and ready to go.
Note: Our original route was stretching all the way to Salalah.
Adventure awaited only 130 km west of Muscat. Outside the village of Al-Awabi, the pavement ended and we hit barren rock. Until the late 80s, access to this inaccessible highland region was mostly on foot or on donkey. Since then, a complex web of gravel tracks was carved through the rugged Hajar al-Sharqiyah massif, allowing for water delivery to a handful of mountain hamlets and for herders’ children to attend school. But some of these tracks are definitely not for the faint-hearted. Only passable with significant off-road riding skills, many of them are yet to be recorded on maps!
To be continued.