Hamid tells me the recipe for this bread made daily over an open fire is flour, salt and water. Roll it out thin, put it onto the fire for 30 seconds or so each side, take it off and pat it to expel the air. Easy right? I swear the man had silicone hands!
Early mornings in the desert show you how lively the nights must have been. Small shrubs glistened with dew drops and the footprints of various animals lined the sandy floor like a dance studio for beginners. Before the heat of the day the desert offers up a serene landscape filled with birdsong, camel grunts and a misty outlook.
Once the sun comes up the temperature can soar over 50 degrees Celsius in the summer time and if you cannot find shelter then your days are numbered. It is as beautiful as it is deadly.
Hamid is a Bedouin.His family have lived in the desert for generations. He is oneof three sons and two daughters.His family live in the local village, breed camels and run a desert camp where people can experience some of what life is like.
Hamid welcomed us to Nomadic Desert Camp and after we stowed our things we went for a drive. The camp is basic and beautiful. Each hut has 2 single beds (you can push them together if you would like to), a table and small chairs outside. Showers are at the back of the camp, work very well and surprisingly large. There is no electricity in the camp.
Before our drive we visited a camel that was resident in the camp. And if you think Matthew was nervous, he was.
Hamid drove us to where his family’s camels are. Camels roam freely unless rounded up. Pregnant females are penned just prior to giving birth to help them when the time comes and also to make sure that the foal can suckle. This is Hamid’s grumpy, feisty camel who has just given birth and loves him. Surprisingly camel hair is very soft, especially the foals – we were asked not to touch her back as it wasn’t yet fully formed.
Camels in the Middle East have a variety of purposes – meat and milk of course, but also camel racing and beauty contents (I kid you not).
After camels we drove further into the sand dunes to watch the sunset while Hamid built the fire.
After sunset coffee and dates are served.Right hands only are washed in a finger bowl and then dates are offered along with rich, sweet, thick Omani coffee.Your cup is filled and refilled until you shake it to indicate you’ve had enough.
We are a mixed group from all over the planet and while we are chatting Hamid quietly excuses himself, walks to the ridge facing the sunset and prays.
Sand dunes before sunset
Coffee, dates and dunes
Coffee after sunset
Sunset Oman desert
Prayers Oman desert
Then it’s back to camp for a dinner and time to sit around the campfire in the Majlis.
Next day Hamid is up early making bread on the fire ready for breakfast. It is served along with humous, Arabic breads, coffee and fresh camel milk still warm (from the camel Matthew met in the morning).We took a stroll before breakfast and this is what we found.
While we were breakfasting these camels were being got ready for our camel ride – the last experience before leaving the camp.
Ana has lived in Muscat for several years and took us into the desert for 24 hours. First stop Wadi Bani Khalid. Drive over the mountains that frame Muscat one side (the sea is on the other) and into a valley of desert, mountains, villages and trails.
What does wadi mean? Wadi is an Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. Sometimes it may refer to a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain 
Over the mountains and into a long stretching valley of occasional villages, scrub and mountains. The wadi is literally in the middle of nowhere.
When we arrive, nearly 4 hours later this is what we find. An oasis, with crystal clear water, fish that nibble your toes (free pedicure) and sweet spring water.
Wadi Bani Khalid is a beautiful place that surprises you in how large it is. For families, there is a restaurant and large pool that is child friendly, for the more adventurous, you can hike up into wadi and choose a pool to your liking. You will need to be sure of foot though – the trail can be narrow and uneven in places.
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