For those who want to follow in their footsteps in the future — travel from Oman to Africa via several of the neighbouring GCC countries — you better expect the unexpected because it isn’t the kind of adventure one can truly prepare for. They were nine Omani adventure-loving bikers who departed from the Sultanate on September 5 passing through United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia crossing over to Sudan and from there had an epic time venturing the roads of Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. They also passed through Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho until they reach their final destination — South Africa.
The team was comprised of Hamoud Khamis al Noufli, who was the leader of the pack, Khalid al Azri, Abdullah al Muqaimi, Abdullah al Touqi, Mubarak al Kiyumi, Saud al Habsi, Majdi Baharesh, Mohammed Eissa al Balushi, and Hamed al Hajri. Two members of the team were in charge of a four-wheel drive vehicle which contained all of their repair kits, spare parts, emergency supplies and camping gears among others.
After three weeks, the team is back in Oman after covering more than 15,000 kilometres and despite the preparations they’ve made, there were several instances in their journey that tested not only their resolve but also their grit and dedication in completing what they were set out to do.
An extraordinary adventure
When they left Muscat, a small gathering was organised to send the team off. Supported by the Ministry of Tourism, the send-off was full of well-wishes and even friends and families hoped for their safe and triumphant journey.
“These youngsters, members of the Oman Riders Club headed by ace bike rider Hamoud Khamis al Noufli are on a goodwill mission of making their message of friendship and talk about the rich culture and heritage of the Sultanate of Oman and the bonds that the country is sharing with South Africa to a handful of countries”, Manabile Shogole, Ambassador of South African Embassy, has said.
Accustomed to the Middle Eastern heat, the adventure started out fine especially when they were just crossing the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Things turned out rougher though when they reached the African continent.
The team noted adverse climatic conditions, rough, strong winds, risky, challenging deserts and even ferocious animals of the jungle posing different challenges. They also shared that country roads had misled them while sandstorms jeopardized their calculations.
On the way, they shared that they saw petrifying carcasses, skeletons of animals, and even a live hippo which challenged their strong resolve.
“We were so concerned about their safety but these young Omanis possess strong grit that we know would take them far and conquer this challenge. The grit also takes away some of the worries”, Sibusisiwe Mangoegape, Charge D’affaires, South African Embassy told the Observer.
Great to be back home
More than three weeks being away from home and living on the road has taken its toll among the members of the team. They relied on each other for strength to complete the task.
“With all the great difficulties, we entered Zambia on Wednesday,” Hamoud shared.
The team was thankful that an Omani family from Maabelah was there and escorted and showed them support as they were headed to Sumbawanga, a village some 240Km west of Tanzania.
This family, they said, was kind enough to drive along with them for 192km off-road from Uvinza to Mpanda.
They consider the family’s help a ray of hope in a very tiring adventure.
“The final challenge we have was really big and tough. It took us 6 hours to cross the jungle. We have to pass through 275km of rough road. It took us 11 hours before we finally arrive at the tarmac road,” Hamoud said.
By this time, they were already very ‘exhausted’.
The team’s arrival in Muscat have allowed them to take a breath of relief. It was evident among their faces that they feel happy to be back in the comfort of Oman and the sweet embrace of their comfy homes.