Oman occupies the South-Eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula and is set against a backdrop of awe-inspiring landscapes including mountains, ravines, cliffs, canyons, deserts and breathtaking coastline.
The varied terrain of desert, wadi, mountain and ocean provides huge scope for adventure, eco- and cultural tourism. This landscape has transfixed such people as The Queen of Sheba, Alexander the Great, Lawrence of Arabia and Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
The capital city is Muscat and in Arabic means “safe anchorage”, indeed the sea constitutes a major part of this city. The Grand Mosque is a stunning showcase of expertly crafted Islamic design features including the world’s largest Persian Carpet and an extravagant Swarovski chandelier. The Mosque also stands as an assertive symbol of Oman’s confidence and spirituality.
To get an insight into the daily life of the people of Oman the Bait al Zubair Museum depicts the country’s cultural history and tradition with works of art, jewellery, costume and household items.
The Muttrah Souk is the oldest market in Oman and consists of a labyrinth of stalls, curious shops and winding alleys where you can buy a plethora of goods including frankincense. A stroll along the Corniche after dinner permits you to catch the breeze and watch old men playing dominoes against the backdrop of the Sultan’s magic mushroom of a palace.
Along the coastline from Muscat to Sur you can revel in the stunning scenery featuring gorges, rock pools and mountains extending all the way down to the sea. Wadi Dayqah is one of the most famous wadis in Oman and at the head of the wadi is Devil’s Gap; one of Oman’s best canyon excursions where you can climb to the summit taking in the spectacular cliffs and fast flowing river.
The Wahiba Sands is a true sand-rolling desert where dunes can be up to 150m tall. Bedouin camps can be found along the trails and a 4WD overnight camping trip is thoroughly recommended.
A less arduous route is from Bidiyah Castle to Al Huwayah which is a large oasis on the edge of the Wahiba. With the high dunes encircling the oasis it gives a real sense of the encroaching desert. 15O species of plant and 200 species of mammal and birdlife can be found in this area. Ras Al Jinz offers the spectacular sight of female turtles returning to the beach of their own birth where they drag themselves up the soft sand, dig a pit and lay a clutch of eggs. Although these tours are guided you can arise at dawn when you are permitted to go to the beaches alone and watch the late comers waddle up the sands. Sur is a quiet coastal town and along with Sohar was said to be the home of Sindbad the Sailor.
Nizwa lies on a plain surrounded by a thick palm oasis and some of Oman’s highest mountains. It was the capital of Oman in the 6th and 7th Centuries and known as the “pearl of Oman”. Here you will be entranced by the 17th century fort and bustling souk where you can buy exquisite copper and silver jewellery. The fort is its most impressive attraction and is a reminder of the turbulent times in Oman’s long history.
Jebel Akhdar translated as “green mountain” refers to a mountain range whose highest peak is Jebel Shams. Divided into two areas, this is a wonderful place to explore with its hidden labyrinth of wadis, terraces, gardens and orchards. Two days are needed to make the most of this unique geographical area where during spring fragrant pink roses, from which the local rosewater is made, come into bloom. This is a trekker’s paradise and allows you to eschew the 4WD and convene with nature.