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Adventure Time

Adventure Time, Expat Life, Family Life

Duncan Family Adventure – Anantara at Jabal Akhdar

March 31, 2017

‘Like ships that pass in the night’, this is exactly what me and my husband are like. We both have extremely busy schedules that rarely line up so recently we booked a family get away in the hope of spending some quality time together.

But where to go? Well, I have literally been bugging him for 4 years to come with me to Jabal Akhdar mountain, there is something about the mountains that just soothes my soul. However for him all he sees is just a pile of rocks but my persistence paid off, it may have helped when I mentioned that we didn’t have to camp and informed him that there was infact a swanky hotel on the mountain with a kids club. And that was it, he was sold.

We headed to the Anantara resort on Jabal Akhdar mountain, the highest 5 star resort in the Middle East. Come on, don’t judge me. If I’ve waited 4 whole years to go stay on the mountain with him we have to do it in style.

We arranged a villa with a private swimming pool to please the young man in our lives. Before the bags were set down he was already hunting for his swim shorts and ready to dive in.

After the fun of swimming I left the boys napping together as I headed off in search of what sets my soul on fire – adventures! An afternoon abseiling, climbing along the via ferrata and rock climbing were exactly what I need in my life – I can confirm that adrenaline was pumping as dangled my body from sheer rock faces and attempted to keep my footing as I peered over the ledge of the steep canyon.

Rushing back to the villa to share my adventure stories with the boys the place was still in silence apart from the odd snore and fidget, they were still sound asleep and everyone was enjoying their afternoon in their own way. Maximising the time on my own I wrote a quick note and headed off in search of the hotel spa. Adventures AND massage – If only days like this could happen every day!

With plenty of activities to chose from at the resort we decided upon a guided walk of the local villages for the second morning. Making our way along the falaj irrigation pathways and through the narrow village streets we learnt more about the local area, cultures and the famous Jabal Akhdar roses.

With spectacular mountain views, adrenaline pumping adventures and a kids club to keep the little one entertained this is by far my favourite hotel. And as the summer heat returns to scorch Muscat this shall be my perfect retreat as I head to the mountains in search of cooler climates. For once, I am actually looking forward to the summer.

Take a look at our family video from the mountain trip at Anantara;

Have a great day,

Heather x

Adventure Time, Expat Life

Kayak Mission to Al Fahal Island

March 31, 2017

Staring out to see from Muscat city I had often daydreamed about reaching the large chunk of rock known as ‘Shark Island’
I just never imagined that I would get there one day under my own paddle power.

Kayak hire was arranged and I rallied a couple of friends together for the adventure… only problem I mistakingly told them it was an easy 2km paddle each way. It wasn’t until we were on the beach ready to begin that we found out it is actually 4.5km each way – oops.

Hopping into our Kayaks packed with water and snacks we left the shore and headed into open water in search of Al Fahal island.

The large island is massive chunk of rock protruding from the water. Reaching the island in the decent time of around 1 hour and 15 minutes we were in need of a quick rest and refuel.

The island is a nature reserve that requires permits to access so instead of climbing on the actual island we were able to rest in the shallow water and devour our much needed snacks before exploring the shallows looking for weird and wonderful creatures of the sea.

The marine life was beautiful and colourful, as always in Oman, with several scuba divers in the area searching the world below. The thought of the potential sharks in the area scared me a little so I was content to stay close to the shallower areas or the brief safety of my kayak for the most part.

Watch the full adventure video here;

Have a great day,

Heather x

PS – Kayak rental from Wave Summit 97471484

Adventure Time

Road Tripping in the GMC Acadia

February 26, 2017

Adverts aren’t usually featured on my blog but when someone wants to trust me with an expensive car for a full weekend I’ll make an exception. Driving out of the showroom with the new 2017 GMC Acadia this felt like a definite blogger perk.

Thankfully this company came with no stipulation for advertising, just a simple case of “here are the keys, go have some fun” and that is exactly what I did.

What do you do when you have a free car for the weekend? You go on a road trip, of course!

The car was packed up with friends, food and Spencer joined us for the fun as we headed off down the coast in search of our next adventure.

This model is marketed as “All Terrain” which sounds like a good challenge to me. With 4 wheel drive engaged and we really did put the car to the test. Up and down steep rock hills, across the sandy beach and through narrow wadi passages it went with ease.

This car was a lot of fun to drive. With the exterior looks of a family car is deceiving and it certainly handled every situation we put it through.

It was all too much excitement for Spencer as he fell asleep on the way home.

With handy features, great handling on and off road, plenty of speed and lots of room for the family, The Acadia would definitely be a car I would consider purchasing in the future when it’s time to say goodbye to my cursed Audi, but the story of the Audi is one for another day.

Thanks GMC for the excuse for a much needed road trip.

Heather x

Adventure Time

Let’s fly away – Sky School Oman

February 2, 2017

This week I swapped the mountains and mud for a different kind of adventure. Getting together with Sky School Oman for my first ever experience on a tandem ParaTrike.

Flying high over the coastline of Sawadi this was a lot of fun and something I would highly recommend you to try.

Check out the fun video;

You can find them Online, Facebook and Instagram – just click your choice and book yourself in.

Have a great day.

Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

Wadi Adventure Race 12

January 19, 2017

What do I do for fun? I throw myself over walls and roll round in the mud, that’s what all girls do, right?? No? Ohh… Well, they should try – it is a lot fun!!

Exactly one year ago (Jan 2016) my crazy passion for obstacle course racing was ignited as I challenged myself in the Wadi Adventure Race, marking the anniversary I returned to same event to race all over again.

What is new this year I hear you ask, Returning a mere 12 months later with hugely improved fitness and being able to increase from the 5km to the 10km race category increased my confidence beyond what I could have hoped for in the previous year and this time bringing a troop of friends to join the fun.

Catch up on the original post, click here.

Running the same course that you have done previously could be boring but for me it was a good benchmark to notice improvement. Especially conquering obstacles that really challenged me last year feels like great motivation to keep going and keep improving on myself. These changes don’t happen overnight and it can become discouraging but this is the kick up the butt I need to keep me determined and working hard.

I’ll get sweaty and muddy so you don’t have to, Sit back and enjoy the video;

Have a great day,

Heather x

Adventure Time

Wakan Village Day Trip

January 11, 2017

Imagine collecting a handful little of houses, rolling them into a ball and throwing them at a mountain side and hoping that they will stick – this is exactly what Wakan Village reminds me of.

The little cluster of rustic abodes 2,000 meters above sea level has been on my ‘must visit’ list for a long time.
January brings amazing winter weather here in Oman and it has motivated me to get outdoors to explore new areas and show you all what the country has to offer. This week my travels allowed me to finally visit Wakan Village and tick it off my list.

The drive to reach the village was dicey to say the least. Uneven terrain, single dusty track road and steep drops down the mountain side left me screeching like an injured animal – this definitely seems to be my kryptonite.
The drive from the main road to the village only takes 10-15mins but due to the road condition I would suggest that you travel in a 4×4 complete with a competent driver.

Climbing uphill from the carpark the path leading you through the narrow village streets, passing right by peoples doorsteps and their kids playing outside, on more than one occasion I wondered if we were on the right track or if we would end up in someones living room. We carried on and as the houses were soon behind us we found ourselves amungst the crop plantations dazzled by the colors and basic agricultural life that provides the mountain people with food and produce to sell.

After more than 4 years of living in Muscat city I am incredibly excited to see a different variety of different trees and plants that are not date palm trees. The green crops and pomegranate trees were a treat for my weary, dust filled eyes – mostly because I had the car window open to film along the dusty, bumpy road.

Leading up the mountainside the path is well maintained and accessible for the many tourists that march along here every week. With 700 steps up the walk itself is not too difficult but be prepared for the steep climb. There are plenty of rest points and benches along the way to get your breath back and enjoy the scenery.

Upon reaching the vantage point where many visitors turn around, it has been an easy hike for us so far, we decide to travel a little further along the path as we are told by the locals it is another 7km hard hike to reach the village at Jebel Akhdar – this is definitely a hike I would like to return for another day when I have the chance…. and more food.

Chilling out on the snout of a lion, would you dare to try?

One of the major tourist attractions of the area is the flowers in bloom where the whole mountain side is alive with beautiful blossoms, Although the flowers were not in bloom when we visited (January 2017) it was still an amazing place to visit and one that I look forward to returning to.

Sit back and enjoy the video from the trip, including my hilarious fear of mountain roads;

Have a great day,

Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

Jebel Shams W6 hike

December 26, 2016

Jebel Shams, otherwise known as the ‘Mountain of Sun’, at 3,009m (9,872 feet) is the highest mountain in the Sultanate of Oman. That is not the only reason why it is a popular tourist spot, the views across the vast valley floor have earnt it the local nickname of the “Grand Canyon of Arabia”. As long as you don’t suffer with vertigo, the views from the summit are spectacular as you peer over the edge down the sheer rock face 6,40m (2,100 feet) to the valley floor.

The W6 hiking trail is a popular choice as it is reasonably easy to access and not too technical allowing most of the family can join in, just be aware of the huge heights and steep drops when dishing out the invites to the elderly and those who are likely to walk off a cliff edge – definitely not a trip for my active toddler!

As always, my favourite part of exploring sights in Oman is the ever friendly – and ever hungry – mountain goats. When they can’t stick their head in a trash for morsels can you can find them up trees (how is that even possible?!) munching on leaves. I even gave it a try for myself without much dexterity or grace, I’ll leave that one to the goats.

Along the W6 track you reach the old abandoned village of As Seb nestled into the rock face. It is amazing to think that people survived all the way out here!

The W6 trail was a great hike and one that I’m sure I will visit again soon with my next batch of visitors. With the drive only 2.5 hours from Muscat city it makes an achieveable and memorable day out.

Want to see more? Get comfy and watch the adventure video right here;

How to reach the W6 hike;
Travelling to Jebel Shams from Nizwa follow the road towards the summit sign posted for the Jebel Shams resort. When you reach the road outside the resort itself the main road ends and the dirt track splits in two – take the left fork.
The road to the summit is achieveable without the need for a 4×4, the next 10 mins of dirt track gets bumpy but still possible.
Reaching the tiny village of Khateem (I’m told that it is pronounced “Hootm”) we followed the road to the left and parked in a small car park, I didn’t notice any Ministry of Tourism signs as mentioned on other websites so we just went with the flow and found our own way. Passing the local vendors selling homemade wares we strolled towards the cliff side and made a left turn down hill where then we noticed the flags painted on the rocks.
Drive time from Muscat city was just over 2.5 hours.

Happy exploring!

Heather x

Adventure Time

Al Amerat hill hike

December 17, 2016

The formidable wall of rock standing tall against the city, it has a road snaking it’s way higher and higher. With hairpin bends and elevation that makes your ears ‘pop’, The Al Amerat hill is a well known landmark in Muscat. The relatively new road winds its way high up the rough hillside and provides access from the City to the town of Al Amerat nestled on the other side.

If you have never experienced the the Amerat Hill, let me tell you it’s a daunting task to even drive in a car. With the steep heights and sharp winding corners you gain elevation quickly, and when you head back down hill again you gain momentum quickly leaving you praying that your brakes are in full working order.

This is maybe one of my crazier ideas to date – this adventure had no route, no path and no safety measures – the mission was to leave the car, go off the map and climb to the highest point possible.

Loose rock underfoot and sheer drops made this a treacherous climb, definitely not for the faint hearted, but the views of Muscat city from high above were definitely worth the sweaty climb.

The full video of the hike is available in the link below;

Thanks for watching!

Heather x

*This definitely isn’t an excursion suitable for everyone due to loose rock, high winds, sheer drops, no path etc. Please be extremely cautious when trying to recreate anything from this page*

Adventure Time, Fitness

The Secret Waterfall – Wadi Al Arbeieen/Arbaeen

November 26, 2016

Wadi Al Arbeieen or even Arbaeen – however you want to spell it, this is an amazing location that you need to add to your ‘must visit’ list.

I’ve often heard of people going there to swim, BBQ, hang out and picnic but I heard whispers of a waterfall deep inside the wadi. Not many people were aware of this when I asked them so I forgot about it until recently.

Excited for the winter weather and the opportunity to get outdoors on long National Day weekend I ventured out to Wadi Arbeein for an adventure with a couple of good friends. Thankfully, M had been here before so he knew how to get us to the illusive ‘Al Hail waterfall’ deep in the heart of the Wadi.

Venturing into the heart of the valley the fresh water pools are an amazing place to cool down after a strenuous hike and have some fun, at some points there was no way to continue the journey unless you took the plunge and swam. The visibility in the pools was amazingly clear allowing beautiful views of the fish swimming by. With very little garbage and pollution, this is by far the best Wadi I have visited in Oman.

To reach the waterfall itself the trek was hard going and dangerous at points, this is not a day out for the faint hearted – clambering over huge boulders, leaping across rocks with sheer drops and pulling yourself up into a narrow crack in the rock with only a rope for support as your feet slip and slide on the smooth surface. One wrong step in here and you would be in trouble. Believe me, Clumsy as ever I took a tumble down a sharp rock outcrop. I left that out of the video to spare my own blushes..

    Reaching the waterfall took 2.5 exhausting hours but it was worth it to experience such an amazingly pure, untouched beauty. Swimming in the pool below the waterfall was an experience I’ll never forget.

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    It’s not every day you take a shower under a waterfall! This is one of the amazing things that I truly love about Oman, these awesome life experiences are out there and for free – you just have to be proactive about it!

    Click on the video link for the full trip, please leave a comment and let me know if you enjoyed it!

    Oman, you really are a very beautiful creature.

    Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

The Spartan Beast Race

November 22, 2016

Remember that I promised you that my next adventure was going to be a BIG one? Even describing it as “physical suicide”?
True to my word, My poor body has been put through the wringer yet again and pushed into the latest intensely savage Spartan Beast race held in Sharjah, UAE.

My previous Spartan race was the ‘Sprint’ level which was approx 6km – this time I went a little crazy and supersized to the challenge of the ‘Beast’, more than triple the distance of the Sprint. In all honesty my fitness level was questionable whether I would be able to complete such a momentous physical challenge without exhaustion or injury. Signing up was maybe ambitious or possibly just plain stupid, either way I’ll blame peer pressure for this one.

After some bullying I found myself signed up for a 20+ km race involving 30+ obstacles in the unforgiving rolling sand dunes and craggy mountain heights deep in the Sharjah desert. Ahh jeez.

‘What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ – This is my moto in life and quite fitting for an event such as this. Both myself and Sarah agreed our moto for this would be ‘Complete, not compete’, although it’s a race we aren’t there for perfect times or to beat anyone – we were taking part for our own personal achievement to complete the course and survive it.

Together with 4 other slightly insane team members we kept each other motivated through the build up of training and preparations, even going so far as to have team t-shirts printed. Who doesn’t love a naughty novelty t-shirt?

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Through the course there are some intense moments that really test every ounce of your physical strength and mental determination. Weighed down with sand bags whilst climbing almost vertical sand dunes drains every ounce of energy and sends your quads into cramps. At times you want to just say “F*ck it” and give up. But you don’t because you are a Spartan, you have come too far to give up now. You shake it off, regain your focus and keep on going.

Through the 5 hours on the course I swore like a trooper, sweated a bucket load, drank 4-5 litres of water, 4 energy pouches, dislodged a toenail, flared up a knee injury, got sand everywhere and experienced every kind of muscle pain possible. But you know what, it was worth every single second. Through every moment I thought I was almost defeated my tired legs just kept on moving and my brain stayed on course for the end goal and I kept powering through.

Previous to the event I doubted my own fitness and mental strength whether I could complete it or not so crossing that finishing line and collecting the medal made it all sooooooo worth every bit of effort. It might have taken 5 hours and 16 minutes but the high of knowing that I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for is an amazing, powerful feeling. Not bad for a Mum huh 😉

The all important fire jump picture! Could I be anymore girly?!

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What I can’t put into words, you can watch on this video and get a feel for the race without my rambling. So get yourself a cuppa, settle down and experience a Beast race without even having to break a sweat.

Hopefully you enjoy the video, let me know what you think!

Heather x