This is one of the best wadis in Muscat and is a great day-outing from the city.
A trip to Muscat should always include Wadi al Shab. It is at a distance of about 150 kms from Muscat and can be reached at about an hour and a half;s drive.
The route is towards Tiwi enroute to Sur from Muscat in the Sharqiyah Region.
the only Arab Royal Orchestra in the world that plays Western Classical music.
The Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra (ROSO) was established by order of HM Sultan Qaboos in 1985 and formed under the the Royal Guard of Oman. Young Omani boys and girls are carefully selected, trained as orchestral musicians and receive a general education in purpose built accommodation at Bait Al Barakah.
There are some regular concerts in the Oman Auditorium of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel.
There are several choices for day trips within a 100 to 200 kilometres from Muscat. What you will need is a salon car, a picnic basket and lots of water.
Here are a few choices:
Take the road to Nizwa, a former capital of Oman. Visit the fort, the falj Daris, the souk and watch the animal auction that takes place every Friday morning around 8 a.m.On the way to Nizwa look for sign posts to Birkat al Mauz and explore this ancient village.
Drive out of the capital area and at Barka take a turn to Nakhal. You will run through date plantations and arrive at the Nakhal Fort. From here the hot springs for which the place is famous is just a few kilometres away
The road beyond Nakhal leads to Rustaq which again was an ancient capital - the fort here is magnificient. There are hot springs here as well
In the opposite direction take a drive to Quriyat starting at the Wadi Adai roundabout. Quriyat is a sea coast town approximately 90 kilometres from Muscat.See the fort, the little town and ask for directions to Hail al Ghaf - an amazing verdant village just a few kilometres from Quriyat. From Quriyat another route takes you to Mazarah, Wadi Daykah and the site of the huge dam that is nearing completion on this Wadi.
Another easy day tripfrom Muscat is to Yeti and Sifah. Both are seaside fishing villages and provide a perfect picture of a traditional Omani fishing village.
Most petrol pumps have toilets somewhere in the rear. You may also find little stores selling things like soft drinks and snacks. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are also available at outlets that say COFFEE SHOP.
The roads are fabulous and the people are most helpful and hospitable.
Incidentally a wadi is a dry river bed which sometimes may have varying levels of water in it. A falaj is the name for the ancient canals for water and a souk is the name for a bazar
Muscat’s location on the Gulf of Oman makes it the perfect place for an ocean expedition. You can choose between various organised boat trips incorporating whale or dolphin spotting; sunset cruises along the coast line; or trips in traditional dhows, often with the opportunity to do some fishing while on board.
The area is good for scuba diving or snorkelling. It’s also worth looking into taking an expedition to one of the many small islands off the coast. Most hotels and local tour operators provide such tours.
There is a rumour that there will be a Hot Air Balloon launching in Oman (Wahiba Sands Desert to be exact) sometime this year. I have been in one before and it is the most exhillerating and magical way to see any type of landscape especially the desert where its beauty lies in its vastness. If I hear about a launch date I will post it and if anyone hears about it before me please let me know!!!
Al Bustan is not a location but a hotel, the Al Bustan Palace... it's a 5 stars hotel located near Muscat and it's the best hotel in Oman. Entrance is free.
The reasons why one should visit it are many... first of all it's the landscape which surrounds it... including one of Oman's best bays. The second reason it's because it an excellent example of Omani architecture blended with modern architecture... you should visit it as you would visit a museum, as it's very tasteful.
A little jewel: look at the sand in the ashtrays: it has the hotel symbol. Put out your cigarette there and come back 5 minutes later. Someone will have cleaned it already and will have put the symbol in again
Bandar Jissah is a wonderful place outside Muscat to go and enjoy a lazy day by the sea. it's quite popular among locals... you can often see large families spending their day there and having a good time. Apart from swimming, you can also take small boat rides (for about 4 rials) around the large rock in the harbour... this rock has a natural arch in it.
because it's not much of a touristic place, it's best to swim with a t-shirt on (for women) - or else one can go to the Omani diving centre nearby, where regular swimsuits are less shocking and offensive for the population
Although it is called the fish souq (market) at the Mutrah Cornicle area, there is actually a meat section near the entrance of the souq which sells chicken, mutton etc. The stalls are lined up nicely and the owners are waiting outside for their customers.
The mountains of the Western Hajar Mountains gives a beautiful backdrop to Muscat, and the various suburbs are scattered throughout the hilly areas. This photograph shows the suburbs of Al Khuwair and Madinat Sultan Qaboos.
Near to the famous Mutrah Cornicle is the Riyam Park where you can walk among the trees and flowers for a relaxing time. There is a white coloured watch tower in the shape of an incense burner located on top of a hill, and you can actually go all the way up to have a beautiful view of the city. Unfortunately, I did not go up due to limited time.
At the Seeb suburb of Muscat near to the airport, every morning there are many fishing boats approaching the fish market at the beach where very fresh seafood is sold and then transported in-land to the various souqs. There are many of such fish markets along the coast of Oman, and the nearest one to Muscat must be this one located at Seeb. More information & photographs are at my VT Mintaqat Masqat page.
Qurum Beach is a very beautiful beach located at the Qurum area of Muscat near to the Crowne Plaza Hotel. This is a public beach with clean and soft sand, palm trees, lovely waves of the Gulf of Oman and facilities such as barbeque pits, shelters, carparks etc. There is even a small river when you enter the beach area and it has lots of small fishes if you were to look down from the bridge. I would post some information and photographs of Qurum Beach at the my VT Mintaqat Masqat page soon, so do keep a lookout for the updates.
Rent a 4x4 and leave Muscat for a day or two-
If you drive to Sur, you can pass by Al nahar resort:
a cute little motel, set up to give you the experience of living in bedion surroundings.
-More off the beaten track idea's on my Muscat Intro page.
-Tour operators list available in the below website (I recommend Bani Wahiba Camping, Ras Al Hadd turtle watching, Wadi Bani Khalid Wadi Swim, Wadi Shaab Wadi Swim/Walk/BBQ), you can do all these over 4 nites.
Rates are around US$ 30 per nite, call them to confirm
Some the finest Arabian Horses are available in Oman- you can go horseback riding in the national Qurum Park for a small fee
if you're a professional rider you might preffer to go to the stables at the Seeb Horse Centre.
Seeb Horse Centre, Seeb. Contact Saada, telephone below.
An unknown fact about Oman is that, as an ancient arabic civilization, many myths were carried down from old ages
Arabs very much believed in witchcraft (white and black magic), in Genies and in the super natural.
Oman can very well be one of the best supernatural-tourist destinations in the Gulf, and not only limited to Muscat:
1- in Dhofar: Go to Khor Rouri, it is local belief that it's the meeting spot of all the top witches and sorcerrors of the world, you won't find a single local there on a thursday (meeting day). I understand there are some rocks naturally shaped like a round table with chairs..I'm yet to confirm that.
2- in Sharqiyah Region(next to wadi shab): go to Majlis al Jinn (literelly genies/spirits sitting room)
Even if you don't find genies, Majlis Al Jinn is the second largest cave chamber in the world. Worth the visit.
Majlis Al Jinn itself was discovered in 1983 by Don Davidson, a geologist.
3- Not sure if you'll find any, but many signs titled "Local Traditional Doctor" hides under the guise of herbal medicine, when in reality their exorcists (yes, muslims have those too)
4- in Nizwa/Bahla: try to ask your guides about the local legends and stories related to genies, witchcraft and such- There lots of chilling stories and poems written about things that 'happened' to children, ladies, strong men. The Dkhaliya region is particularlly rich with these stories.