This dusty, windy, steep and narrow road across the Hajer Mountains brought back great memories – biking down Bolivia’s “Death Road” (La Carratera de la Muerte) from La Paz to Coroico in 2007. Equally picturesque, but biking this road we would never consider! The incline was sometimes so steep that we could see nothing but the hood of our car. We could only hope that we were not going over a cliff or run head on into a car. Wannabe daredevils as we are, we had saved the 300 Euros for renting a GPS. It showed as soon as we headed straight into the mountains from the coastal road: immediately after the tarred road ended, we got lost.
Always seeing the positive side, we first even felt lucky when the road abruptly ended in front of some red, orange and blue rock formations. We would have never come here otherwise. We felt no hurry – the last road sign had said 49 kilometers to Al Hamra and it was only 02:30 pm. But even with farmers giving us directions we could not find the turn off. We finally stopped a car, the only car passing through. It turned out to be our X-mas angel, an Omani driving a German couple, going to the very same remote hotel in Jebel Shams.
By the way, we mistook the turnoff for the driveway of a small house. We would have never, ever found our way and above all had underestimated the travelling time by several hours. Not knowing exactly where our hotel was located would have added to our panic. But luckily we had our escort. The only downside of being guided was that we could not stop more often for photos. And the scenery is dramatic: mountains in different colors, dusty roads snaking up the steep slopes and shadows climbing higher and higher up the mountain as the day progresses.
Once it got dark we desperately clung to the taillights of our savior. After passing the small town Al Hamra, the road climbed even further up: a dirt road void of villages and people. Even the random goat seemed a pleasant surprise, a sign of life. But an incredible spectacle of lights made up for the emptiness. The now dark and mysterious looking mountain ranges were crowned by a bluish sky, while the setting sun was painting reddish streaks across it. Did we mention the full moon? Not once did we think of this being a hazardous journey.