Having spent a beautiful day at the refreshing pools of Wadi Bani Khalid, we decided to move on by 6pm. We intended to stop over at Sur.
Sur is the capital city of Ash Sharqiyah Region ie NorthEastern Oman, on the coast of Gulf of Oman. Its nearly 400kms from Muscat. However from Wadi Bani Khalid, it took us nearly 150 kms to Sur.
This city is historically known for being an important destination point for sailors. Today the city has retained its reputation as a major dhow-building town, the very same vessels that were used for trade two centuries previously. Naturally the sea plays an important part in every aspect of the peoples lives in this region.
However the city is a tourist magnet for its Greenback turtles as well ! Sur has a nice long beach and its beaches are egg laying beds for the Greenback turtles. Ras Al Jinz is a small sandy bay where greenback turtles come ashore to nest all year round.
The turtles come from the ocean in the mid-night, dig the trench, lay their eggs, cover them with sand and go back to the ocean. Although it is a very slow process, it is rather fascinating how tirelessly ( for nearly 2-3 hours) the turtles, practice and carry forward this tradition instinctively. These turtles are rather large and hence to see them in their holes, tossing out sand with their flippers and lay their eggs is truly an amazing process ! It is an experience in itself !
Apparently, over 20,000 female turtles return yearly to this beach where they were hatched in order to lay their eggs.
Omani government plays an important role in protecting these turtles and has harsh penalties for disturbing the females or their eggs. The only way to visit the beach is through the Ras al-Jinz Scientific and Visitor’s Centre, where you must make a reservation to visit the site with a tour guide after 9 p.m.
Although previously when we had visited Sur, there was no formal system in place, however we were pleasantly surprised that this time around, the beach, which is around 50 kms from Sur, is monitored by the police. One has to enter before 8:30 pm and they are very strict about entrance time. There is a quota system for the number of vehicles each night. Ofcourse honking is forbidden and one has to follow lines and park only in designated areas. Children have to be controlled too and mobiles on silent mode. Naturally since Turtles are sensitive to noise and light, silence is a must and flash lights/torches should only be used to find missing children !!! I was pleased to see that the government was making improvements to conserve this beach and the turtle egg-laying process.
Man is at a loss ~ unless he respects NATURE. Every so often, you come across a selfish moron, who does not show any consideration for nature and all that comprises nature. Introducing the moron, who happily, takes pictures of our mother turtle, shooting flashes of light here way, so as to capture her agonizing, egg “dropping” process ~ oblivious of how his sheer presence must be so annoying to her.
The pictures, here, of the young hatchlings dont belong to me, since I did not want to disturb the little babies with my camera.
I would always recommend that anyone interested in this spending overnight in this absolutely amazing beach , carry some carpets/rugs, some snacks, a torch (not to point at the turtle, but just incase you lost something) some water and just relax on the beach under the moon light. It is truly divine. However, please remember to leave the beach as clean as you found it, when you arrived !! Carry your plastic bags to throw your litter in.
Oh yeah, and for people like myself, worry not, there are toilet facilities available !!
Ras Al Hadd is also an ideal option if one wishes to stay close to the beach in a reasonably good chalet-like set up. Only a short distance from Ras Al Jinz Visitor Center.
You can find more information about the Greenback Turtles in sur :- here
Since we reached Sur, rather late and did not have a reservation booked in any hotel, we were turned down by several hotels due to the Eid Holidays. Finally we got two rooms in Sur Plaza hotel. The hotel was comfortable, the rooms spacious and clean and the staff, professional and helpful. After such a hectic day and a sumptuous dinner, we all just crashed out in our rooms !!
Next morning, after a refreshing swim in the pool and a pleasant breakfast, we packed and left for the our next destination.
I do hope, I have inspired you to pop over at Google Map or such, and atleast check out, where Oman is located and what it has to offer. Truly, its a phenomenal destination with sleepy villages, enchanting coastlines, refreshing wadis enveloped in the Hajar mountains, miles of everchanging landscapes and a few modern cities in between. Oman provides a very complete ARAB experince.
BTW, Just FYI Oman Government or Oman Tourism has not paid me to write this blog. I have been visiting Oman since 1998 and 14 years later, this magnificient country still does not seize to amaze me with its natural beauty and hidden treasures of Wadi’s and caves.
Thank you for visiting me today.
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