Favorite thing: Sightseeing is obviously the most important activity for anyone wishing to visit Oman. The problem is that there are just so many wonderful places to visit. My advice would be to try and find an Omani friend who can suggest the best places, and show you around. Conducted tours are OK but I prefer to be 'on my own' and therefore able to browse at my own leisure. That is the danger, of course, because you may well stay longer in one place than you expected, thereby missing out on some of the other attractive places. Nizwa, Bahla, Rustaq, Sohar and Sur besides Muscat and Muttrah are all places I will return to.
This photo shows, in the top left corner, the old Jalali Fort, which used to be a prison. Slightly to the right, and looking like trumpets standing on end, is the magnificent Royal Palace. Enlarge the picture for a clearer view.
Fondest memory: Having seen the splendour of the Royal Palace in Muscat, only about half a mile away on the old airfield, lived a large number of people living in an assortment of makeshift dwellings, of scrap wood, boxes and plastic sheeting!
Leave the tarmac roads and cities behind you, and explore the interior regions, especially the Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain). At any time of the year this is a most beautiful region
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of Oman is the generousity and friendliness of the people. There were few tarmac roads when I was there and we used to take a Landrover into areas where there were only graded tracks, and sometimes just drive through boulder strewn wadis. We often ended up at dead ends, and were always welcomed by the local people, and invited to share a light meal with them, before returning home. A really wonderful memory is of climbing to the top of Jebel Sham (The Sun Mountain) on foot. It took a whole day to get there, departing at first light from Ghul, a village now abandoned, I believe, and then we had a severe thunder storm, so I was unable to take any photos! I believe it is now possible to drive most of the way to the summit - using suitable vehicles, of course. See more details in my new Travelogue.
One of the most popular treks in Oman is the 'Jebel Shams Rim Walk'. Jebel Shams, or the Mountain of the Sun, is the highest mountain in Oman, standing at 3075m.
The trek starts at the village of Al Khateem, which has amazing panoramic views of Wadi Nakhr and Wadi Ghul. The walk can be rather precarious as it is littered with rock rubble and hugs the cliff wall. There is a sheer drop to the other side.
The route along the rim walk takes many twists and turns as it follows the mountain's contours and some of the stretches take you out on a protrusion which offers the less-vertiginous trekkers some breathtaking views of the canyon below.
Only those who are extremely fit should attempt this walk as the route is very steep, exhausting, and has little shade or shelter.
Always remember to take with you plenty of water, wear sunscreen and advise people where you are and when you anticipate returning.
Buy yourself a good guide book. I bought a great paperback by Diana Darke entitled: Discovery Guide to Oman, published by IMMEL Publishing, and available from Amazon.com, amongst others. It is an easy to read book and extremely well presented. Recommended price is £15.95.
I was both fascinated and horrified to discover the changes that have occurred in Oman since the mid 70's. Having got over the initial shock and I suppose disappointment, I am now more determined than ever to retrace my steps.
Because of the week of the traffic there was also a contest of drawings.
In the shopping mall we had a look at the results, presented in an exhibition. There were a lot of other visitors.
I liked the drawings very much, learning something about traffic in Oman and local customs. Themes in the drawings were, wearing your safety belt, not biking between cars, being aware of camels on the road and more.
I put some pictures of these nice drawings in a travelogue, so have a look.
Because of the week of the traffic there was an exhibition of numberplatesin one of the shopping mall we visited.
Our driver explained us the meaning of the different identification plates, becasue there were not only the regular ones, but also some special ones, of the UN, of the Corps Diplomatique, of the export ministry or of cars for learning to drive.
Also the press was present in the shopping mall during the festivities of the ''week of the traffic''.
The reporter of the local radiostation made a interview with someboby of the ministry. They told us, it was the minister himself.
Also the reporter is wearing the traditional dress.
In the shopping mall, where we heard the bag-pipe music, were some festivities because of the ''week of the traffic''.
We saw a lot of officials of the ministry of traffic. Like legally is required, all the employees of the ministry wear the traditional dishdasha, a long dressshirt, mostly white for the government.
They were also wearing their traditional khanjar (knife) and a turban.
In greater Muscat we not only visited the older parts and museums, but we also went to some modern shopping malls. We even visited an ice-skating hall, the coolest place in town ! In one of the shopping malls we heard bagpipe-music.
So you can really say, Muscat is a place of contrasts and surprises !!
Oman extends from the northern fijords of the Musandam peninsula to the annually green Dhofar region in the south.
Most of the population is based on the Batinah coast, a semifertile plain running from the border with the UAE to Muscat, and separated from the rest of Arabia by the Hajar Mountains. The highest peak being Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun) at 3075m. Nearby, on the slopes of Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain) there is fruit growing!
Between the Hajar Mountains and Dhofar, a lot of the country is comprised of flat rocky desert with sand dune areas. Notably the Wahiba Sands, also known as Sharqiya (Eastern) Sands. There is thriving and diverse marine life off Oman's 1700km coastline.
Wander through the souk in Muscat. There is so much to see and so much to buy.
We were very disappointed in Salalah. We tended to agree with one of the shipboard personnel who told us that the translation of Salalah is 'Don't bother to leave the ship.'
Here is a picture of Irwin and me in front of the souk in Muscat.
Our visit revolved mainly around Muscat . If the hotel is affordable please spend some time , say a minimum of 3 nights at the Al Bustan Palace . Insist on a sea view room overlooking the pool and on at least the 5 th floor . You will not be disappointed .
Fondest memory: The wonderful December weather . Driving along the garden lined roads leading from the Capital and the wondrous roundabouts.
Spend time exploring some of the small villages as well. If you go into the mountains, you will be rewarded with beautiful scenic views such as this. I love the contrasting colors of green against the sand colored mountains.
Visit the picturesque city of Suhar and the quaint little town of Nizwah. Nizwah has a fort, which has a Souk (local market). Caution: Don't enter the Souk on your cars for the lanes are extremely narrow.
Fondest memory: Ability of females to go places with our families and not being bothered that we are being watched. The picture shows 3 of us families standing in front of the Fort on the way to Nizwah. I am on the extreme right side wearing an Abaya, the traditional covering black robe of the Arabian peninsula.
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More Regions in Oman