Leg 4 – Middle East (+/- 1000 km)
Countries: Oman and United Arab Emirates
My original plan was to enter the Middle East through Turkey and Iran but when I applied for a visa to Iran it was rejected, twice !!!
As I tried t cycle through Iran in March 2017 there were special restrictions for three countries – the UK, USA and Canada. Native passport holders of these countries were still not able to obtain independent travel visas for Iran unless married to an Iranian national. To secure a visa, passport holders from these three countries need to travel as part of an escorted tour group, or have an ‘official’ guide (this meant not an Iranian friend or work colleagues) during their entire stay in Iran. The itinerary needed to be pre-arranged, hotels pre-booked and paid for in advance. (They also changed their visa application system to online via e-visa which meant that travel agents could no longer provide ‘fake’ itineraries)
I had hoped that these restrictions would have been lifted by the time I arrived in the Middle East but as they were still in place then I had to completely rethink my route through this region. As I could not enter Iran then instead I decided to fly directly to Oman when I left South America and cycle towards the United Arab Emirates.
The interactive map below outlines the route that I took as I set out cycling from Muscat to Dubai.
The blue route line is often not the actual route that I cycled, more a representation. For the actual GPS tracks that I rode each day please scroll down and click on the Actual GPS links at the bottom of this page.
Please click on the map symbols for more detail about each leg, and zoom in for a closer view of the route that I cycled through the Middle East. (the initial map load time may be slow depending on your internet connection)
Zoom in on the map for a closer view of my route
If you have read my route overview for South America you will know that part of this cycle trip was to visit those little country gems that you tuck away and save for a special time somewhere in the future. In the Middle East, Oman was the one country that I have always wanted to cycle through.
Oman is located on the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East and is probably the greenest and most fertile land in the area. Where most of the peninsula is known for its vast sand dunes Oman is known for it’s mountains and peculiar climate – warm winters, steady sun and cooling monsoon winds. That said, I arrived at the end of winter where it was still +40C, but in another month or so the temperature would rise to +50C which would have made cycling impossible.
Muscat, the capital of Oman, is home to forts and museums where I whiled away the day wandering along the corniche and exploring the local souq. It is also home to what was the most impressive site in Muscat – the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
After visiting Muscat I spent a week cycling east along the coastal road to theend of the peninsula and the beaches of Ras Al Hadd, which lay within a turtle sanctuary where up to 20,000 Green Turtles come ashore each year to lay eggs.
At the end of the peninsula I turned south towards the dunes of Wahiba Sands, a desert region, home to traditional Bedouin people known for their hospitality.
It was then time to leave the coast and cycle west through the Hajar Mountains towards the UNESCO market town of Nizwa where for the first time in weeks I managed to find a pint The mountains of Oman may not be the highest in the world but they are among the steepest and visits to Jebel Akhdar and Wadi Ben Khalid gave me a worth while workout in my quest for panoramic views of the mountains.and to cool off in the cool waters of the wadi.
Once I finished cycling through the Hajar Mountains I continued west and crossed into the United Arab Emirates at Al Ain. From there, it was a quick run to Dubai to visit friends.Alas, then my time in the Middle East was up and I caught a flight out to Bulgaria to begin the final leg of my cycle ride through Europe.
If you have any questions about my cycle through the Middle East I would love to hear from you – please click here to email me direct!
Thanks for taking the time to read about my route through Oman and the United Arab Emirates and the final mention must go to the innumerable people who helped me out along the way. I would just like to say a huge heartfelt thank you as without you my journey and memories would not have been the same.
Click on the links below to see my actual GPS route tracks through the Middle East:
To see all of my GPS tracks through Oman – CLICK HERE
To see all of my GPS tracks through Dubai – CLICK HERE