Oman provides fantastic photo oppurtunities.
From beautiful architecture in Muscat to the natural beauty of Wahiba Sands.
I did find a polarizing filter useful in the desert.
Do enjoy these great oppurtunities!
Excited so you should be its great!!
We normally arrive at the camp around 1500-1600 and then relax before the afternoon drive and sunset watch. Then we usally do the morning drive again at 0830 / 0900 and then leave after that.
Most of the hotels are free of chavs!! so dont be worried about groups of tracksuit clad parents and burberry kids.
80 OMR you might be pushing it but try the crowne plaza.
If you can drive then that is the best way to do the tour and get around,, a driver is not needed in Oman if you are confident abroad and can read a map.
The Al Hota or Hooty (Ive seen both) Cave is being developed into quite a tourist attraction as of late. It is located just outside the city of Nizwa (old capital) in the Sharqiya region of Oman. The cave has a visitors center and Omans first train (quite small but people get excited) to ride it into the cave. The cave has to be one of the most incredible things I ve seen in the Middle East and nobody knows anything about it. I cant even imagine how deep or high the cave walls and ceilings are but it is a massive cave complex complete with staircases and guard rails to help you along. There are strategically placed tour guides at certain points that tell you all about the history of the cave as well as info about the stalagmites etc. It is DEF worth the trip out there and was one of those hidden gems that Omans seems to possess at every corner. Fantastic place.
Wahiba sands has miles of golden sand dunes, and is worth a visit if you want to see some desert. You can take a trip across the sands, which involves camping and takes about 3 days but we didn't have time so just visited for a day.
Our guide took us to visit a Bedouin family to see how they live. You can go inside the tent and talk (via guide interpreting) to them, learn about how they live and see the animals outside. The family we visited were well set up for receiving guest tourists, with tea and souvenirs to sell but we were happy to see them adding a bit to their income and they were very friendly.
They had some lovely needlecraft items to sell and we were photographed wearing traditional Bedouin clothes.
We took 2 snorkelling trips while in Muscat. One was organised by our travel company and we had a group of about 8 people on the boat, from 2 hotels. This one was pretty average and the location was close to the Al Bustan Palace Hotel. The sea was not very calm and visibility was not brilliant - but those that persevered saw a reasonable amount.
The second trip was organised by our hotel The Chedi and we had the boat to ourselves. When the guide told us we had a choice of locations and did we want to snorkel with turtles or sharks we knew we were probably going to get a better trip than the previous one!
We chose turtles and didn't regret it. We left the Marina and had the city on the left side. The journey took about 30 minutes and we saw Dolphins on the way back. The place we stopped was not far from shore and we were very surprised at the quality of the snorkelling so close to the city.
Our guide was very good - he was in the water with us the whole time and we saw 4 turtles, as well as an excellent selection of fish, which were easy to find and to see. The area was quite large with some rocks in the centre which gave a good viewing place. Another good bit was the rocky edge of the bay where I saw very different species of fish to those by the centre rocks. We spent almost 2 hours in the water there was so much to see!
If we had not been leaving the next day we would have booked again with the same guide to snorkel with the sharks (I think they were sand sharks?)
Sur was a hub for trade with Zanzibar, India and China and you can still see the dhows being built in the traditional way by craftsmen in the boatbuilders yard. While we were there they were building an enormous new dhow for the Sultan.
It is a very pretty town on the coast, with a laid back and friendly atmosphere.
You can go to the beach and watch the fishermen bring in the catch of the day. Our day's catch was sand sharks, which were auctioned right on the beach as soon as they were brought ashore.
Most tours allow just 1 day visit to Sur, as ours did, but I would have liked longer here to just wander around and see more of this lovely town.
One of the outstanding memories of Oman, is the forts to be seen all over. The Mutrah fort overlooks the Mutrah part of Muscat.
Although closed for visiting, its worth climbing the steps up to the entrance. From there, you'll have beautiful views of Mutrah!
Visit Bahla when you are in Nizwa. It is a short trip (take a microbus) to this small town. The magnificent fort is enough reason to spend a few hours here. Unfortunately it is not open for visitors at this stage (it is undergoing restoration).
There is also a souk which can be visited during the morning.
I am against tours in any country because I firmly believe you cant really gain insight into a place if you dont mingle with the people and get to know them and the Middle East is a fantastic place to do this but there are folks out there that have to get a tour for whatever reason. It is true that Oman is not an easy place to travel around due to lack of public transport (Yemen actually has more options than Oman if you believe it) so tours are often organized through agencies in Muscat and they are generally really expensive. Be warned that if you decide to travel this country alone then your costs will be cut by nearly 60% but tours are great if you are older or nervous of the region. I recommend Desert Discovery Tours because I only recommend a tour agency or hostel etc if I know it personally and this one is top quality. This tour group focuses on the amazing Wahiba Sands in the Sharqiya Sands (near my home) and you get the chance to visit the Wahiba Sands or Ras Al Jinz (to see the giant and beautiful turtles). The tour operators are good but the guides are even better because they are local Bedouin and after meeting them and conversing with them on four seperate occasions I can say they are legit, down to earth and provide a great service. Great.
Oman has some of the best sand dunes in all of Arabia. The Wahiba Sands which is luckily enough only 25 km from my apartment is a place to see true Arabian Dunes. The camp is run by Bedu and despite having all the modern day conveniences such as toilets and lights, the overnight camp gives you the chance to do some serious dune bashing in the old landcruisers or simply take in the vibe which includes traditional music at night, sand surfing and camel rides. The dunes are something special and they raise to several hundred feet in some areas. The place is off the beaten track and it is a place where you can experience world class sand dunes and bedu hospitality without the addition of mass tourism.
In the walled city of Muscat. It should not be missed, as it gives a good idea of what Omani
history and culture is about. The museum is housed in a beautifully restored home. There is a coffee shop and a shop with an excellent collection of books on Oman for sale.
Admission is OMR 1, photography is prohibited in the museum.
Hours: Sat - Thu 09h30-13h00 and 16h00-19h00
Nizwa makes an easy daytrip from Muscat. I took the bus from the station in Ruwi. It is not possible to reserve a seat, buy a ticket from the driver. The bus leaves at 08h00 and also at 14h30. The trip takes about 2h20min.
The Fort in Nizwa is most probably the most visited site in Nizwa. It is worth taking the trip to see this well preserved fort.
You have a great 360 degree view from the top, appreciating a view of the Hajar Mountains and date plantations.
Jebel Akhdar in Arabic means "Green Mountains" and this region of the most verdant outside of Salalah and the Batinah Coast. To go there requires a 4-wheel drive ( and a road permit because of military installations in the area). One of the most scenic areas in Oman, coupled with the friendly local inhabitants, this region is a natural spot for tourism.
If you have visited India, North Africa or Turkey you would be familiar with the barber shops. It is a very relaxing experience. You will find plenty Barber Shops in the Ruwi Souq area and in Mutrah in the area as you exit the souq (at the inland side).
To have a shave done would cost between OMR 0.5 - 1.5
It is a very local affair, and part of every day life for Omani men.
It seems that not many tourists consider Ruwi as a tourist area. It is actually worth spending some time here. There are good restaurants, the Ruwi Souq, many Barber Shops, Auyervedic Clinics etc. The place comes alive at night. Most shops are closed betwen 12 noon and 4pm, so it is much better to visit Ruwi late afternoon and evening. There are some good take-away foodshops wich sells excellent schwarmas.
It does remind one a lot of India, but there is a definite Arabic influence.
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