Day Trip to Rustaq
From Muscat you can drive for an hour and reach Barka where the fish market and souk are worth a stop, as also Bait Na'am, a fortified house. This is where the Imams used to overnight during their journey to the interior.
From Barka the drive continues along the famous Batinah plain, the main agricultural area of Oman. Then on to Al Hazm, where you visit the impressive fort before stopping at Rustaq Fort.
Al Rustaq Fort nestles at the foot of Al Jabal Al Akhdar on the edge of the Batinah Plain. It was originally built on Persian ruins circa 1250 CE. However the imposing present-day structure was rebuilt by the first ruler of the Ya'ruba dynasty in 1650 CE. Rustaq fort was carefully built with stones fixed together with mortar and mud bricks. Its four towers and several wells spell the vision and architectural excellence of the bygone days. It also houses many buildings like a mosque, weapon’s room, prison, and a reception area.
On route you will pass along picturesque wadis (dry river beds) and reach the oasis of Nakhl, with time for a visit of Nakhl Fort. Before returning to Muscat you can visit the natural warm springs of Thowarah.Related to:
- Road Trip
Wadi Khabb Shamsi
Wadi Khabb Shamsi is one of the many wadis in the rugged and spectacular Ras al-Jebel Mountains of the Musandam Peninsula. Most of the wadi is arid and rocky with little apparent life. However, the wadi is home to many birds and mammals. The local Shihuh tribe has also managed to eke a living out of this inhospitable land, relying on infrequent rains to water their crops, and tending herds of goats to provide meat and milk.
This is a part of Oman that few visitors will ever see. However, for those interested in hiking in the desert, birdwatching, or geology, Wadi Khabb Shamsi well worth the time and effort it takes to travel there.
The Hanging Gardens
The Hanging Gardens gets its name from luxuriant green vines that drape from the steep cliffs of Jebel Qatar after the winter rains. It is located in an isolated, hot, and desolate wadi, known as Fossil Valley, not far from Buraimi. The only way into the wadi is by a rough track across a rocky plain for which a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. And there is not much reason for anyone to visit the Hanging Gardens unless they are interested in desert hiking, birdwatching, or just exploring.
I went to the Hanging Gardens to find desert birds that can be difficult to find elsewhere. At the time of my visit, the winter rains had not yet started, so I did not see any of the vines that the valley is known for.
Wadi bani khalid
visit this amazing mountain oasis valley where the sands leave place to the verdant green of the tropic and life is still slow and worth to live.
meet friendly locals - we have been invited for lunch in a house and met kind and intelligent people
Great vistas in Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar
Just a 3-hour drive inland from the capital of Oman, Muscat, going up to Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar (the green mountain) is a wonderful experience not to be missed. We went up this August and despite very hot, muggy conditions at sea level, the temperature at the top (1700-1800 meters) was perfect. It's nearly as uncluttered a place as one can find anywhere in the world. Curiously enough , there's a location where Princess Dianna is reported to have camped for a week. The locals still live much as they have for hundreds of years and there are comparatively few tourists with only one hotel at present. The views are magnificent. This and Nizwa below are essential if one wants to really see the "heart of Arabia".Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
Dibba is a sleepy port city located just under the towering mountains of the Musandam Peninsula on Oman's east coast. The border between Oman and the United Arab Emirates actually runs through the middle of Dibba, and visitors can freely cross the border with no immigration formalities. However, an Omani visa is necessary for those traveling on to Khasab at the tip of the peninsula. Dibba is further divided between Fujairah and Sharjah emirates on the United Arab Emirates side of the border.
Dibba is one of the oldest cities on the Arabian Peninsula. Nearby archaeological sites date from about 3,000 B.C. to the early Islamic period. Before the Muslim conquest, Dibba was the capital of the area which is currently made up of Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
The surrounding area was also the site of the Battle of Ridda, which occured in 633 A.D., and which was the last battle of the Muslim conquest of Arabia. The plain outside of Dibba contains hundreds of graves of those who fell during the battle.
Off the Beaten Coast Road
If you are heading down to (or up from) seeing the turtles in Ras al Hadd then make sure that you find the coast road. Right now this isn't too difficult but given the rate of construcion of the dual carriageway it won't be easy for long. Keep your eyes open for some very pretty & very secluded white sand beaches -perfect stop for a picnic and couple of hours of your very own beach!!
Al Ain and Buraimi Border no longer open
I have been an expat. resident of Buraimi for around four years and have enjoyed the warm hospitality and kindness of the Omani people. Now the delays caused by an entirely inefficient and racist control system implemented this week at the UAE border has meant that I and many other expats will probably now have to leave Buraimi. You can expect hours of delay at the UAE borderpost due to the inefficiecy of the system. If you are an Emirati or Omani you may be waved through but it will be based upon a cusory look at your skin colour and clothing.
Call it racial profiling.
This move will cause great economic losses to Buraimi and Al Ain. All tourist websites should now please remove all references to an open border between Al Ain and Oman as it no longer exists. We had previously been told that the problem had been resolved between Oman and the UAE but this is definitely not the case.
In an era in which most countries like Europe are bringing down their borders this is a move which is politically and economically retrogressive.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
- Work Abroad
The town of Buraimi shares the Buraimi Oasis with Al Ain in Abu Dhabi emirate in the United Arab Emirates. Visitors can pass freely between the two towns and countries without any border formalities. Visas are only required for those traveling deeper into Oman, and the checkpoint is several miles beyond Buraimi. The border crossing between Buraimi and Al Ain is a busy one, with Omanis going to Al Ain for cheaper shopping, and travelers going to Buraimi to say they have been in Oman.
Buraimi has always been on a strategic route between the interior of Oman and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. In 1952, Saudi Arabia claimed Buraimi. Negotations to determine ownership of the oasis failed, and in 1955 there was a small-scale war which resulted in a Saudi withdrawal from the area. However, it was not until 1975 that a border acceptable to all parties was established.
During my short visit to Oman, my group crossed into Buraimi on our way to go birdwatching at the Hanging Gardens in the nearby desert. We then cut across a mountainous and isolated corner of Oman on our way to Hatta in Dubai emirate in the United Arab Emirates.
Off Road Exploration
One of the true highlights of visiting Oman is off road travel into the mountains, wadis, sand dunes and coastline. Hiring a landcruiser or Rav 4 can be expensive but most tour companies offer half day or full day tours. Oman hasnt been touched by mass tourism so get out there and see it!Related to:
- Adventure Travel
A great option when traveling around in Muscat is head for 'Old Muscat' past the Sultans palace. There is a winding road that leads to a mountain top that gives amazing views of Old Muscat. Ask the locals to point out Old Muscat and you cant miss this winding road through the mountains. At twilight the views are stunning.
Many tourists dont bother to visit the area around the Sultans Palace but in reality it is perfectly fine to walk around the grounds. The beachfront area is peppered with forts and a stroll down past the giant incense urn will givfe you access to a beautiful part of Muscat. Looking back towards the souq and hotels with the dhows in the background make this location a great spot to take some beautiful photos.
The Musandam Peninsula
The Musandam Peninsula forms the northernmost tip of the Arabian Peninsula, and forms one side of the Strait of Hormuz, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. It is separated from the rest of Oman by part of the United Arab Emirates. Until just a few years ago, the Musandam Peninsula was a miltary zone, strictly off limits to travelers. However, now that Oman is opening up to tourism, the peninsula is becoming a popular part of the country for diving, fishing, boating, and travel into the rugged mountainous interior. Many consider this to be the most beautiful part of Oman.
The Ras al-Jebel Mountains are the dominant physical feature of the Musandam Peninsula. They rise to 6,847 feet (2,087 meters), and slope steeply down to the sea, forming long fjord-like inlets. In the interior there are many wadis (canyons carved through the mountains by prehistoric rivers 10,000 to 2,000,000 years ago) and acacia-dotted gravel plains.
Swimming Amongst The Mountains
Yes it is possible to go swimming at inland sites in Oman - it's not all sand! Wadi Dayqah makes for a good excursion from Muscat. It used to be well off the beaten track because it could only be reached in a 4x4. But now, owing to modern progress, there's tarmac 99% of the way which allows one to get a Toyota Echo almost to the water's edge. It's a pleasant 90 km drive from Muscat, in the direction of Quriyat, with a view over plains to the Hajar Mountains that never fail to captivate at any time of the day. The Wadi itself emerges from a deep gorge in the mountains in its quest for the sea. Spates have caused deep erosion at boulders and outcrops creating deep pools that the local lads delight in jumping into (from great heights). You can even snorkel here as there are plenty of fish. It is less off the beaten path now but is well worth a visit.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The coastal town of Tiwi
If you are visiting Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi, you should also walk around the beautiful seaside town of Tiwi, which is located next to these two wadis (rivers). The locals are very friendly and the atmosphere is very relaxing. This is a good place to experience the life in coastal areas of Oman. More information and photographs are at my VT Tiwi page.
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