Oman Observer

In the camels’ footsteps

For a few months each year, as the monsoon season pays Salalah a visit, camels wander around the wilderness, creating winding paths on a green patch in an otherwise dry landscape.
Swiss mountain bike enduro rider René Wildhaber followed in the footsteps of the camels, on some of the most exciting routes the region has to offer, right here in our own backyard in Oman.
Wildhaber admitted that this was not the way he envisioned Salalah, a city which lies only a few hundred kilometres from the Empty Quarter: “I expected a desert, only sand, but then I found mountains here and its really nice, like at home but without snow.”
Not a common sight in his native Switzerland, the camels – ships of the desert – where what intrigued Wildhaber the most as he set out to chase their trails.
With the task of designing the trail left up to the camels’ devices, Rene’s ride was fraught with challenges, as what sometimes looked like a fairly easy trail turned really tough when unexpected bends and twists came into view.
“On the trails here, you see a good variation of inclination, so the camels sometimes like to walk steep, and sometimes they go flat. They are the trail builders here,” he adds.
In the week-long adventure, René rode for 7 kilometres, for nearly 10 hours every day, in an average temperature of 26 Degrees Celsius.
“You never know what you get around the next corner so you have to look forward and be awake,” says Wildhaber.
Wildhaber’s paths were not always accessible by car so at times he had to hike over the mountains to reach the right spot.
Riding in such areas clearly meant he needed energy in order to stay strong throughout the long day. The winning diet combination for him was: carb rich bread, potatoes, beans and protein, and water mixed with Red Bull.
When asked about why he chose Salalah for the project, Wildhaber said that it was the fact that mother nature herself, with the help of the camels, was what shaped his route, rendering the whole process a uniqueness rarely found elsewhere.