Home » Destination Global »Headline News » Currently Reading:

Mystical Oman

October 14, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59We had read and heard about Oman’s beautiful beaches, majestic mountains and fascinating deserts. But what added to our anticipation as we arrived at Seeb International Airport in Muscat was the warm welcome.  The smiling immigration officer asked: “First time in Oman? Where are you from?” His exclamation as we replied was: “Oh India. Very big country! Enjoy your stay in Oman”.

Desert nights campsite at Wahiba Sands

A coffee shop named Idli.com at the airport immediately connected us back to our roots, as we waited for our pick-up by Mahesh Morthy of Gulf Ventures, a Destination Management Company (DMC).  The view as we stepped out of the airport was of majestic Hajar Mountains and the blue gulf, a stark deviation from the usual cluster of buildings.

Our DMC’s had made arrangements for a quick fresh up at Muscat’s newest airport hotel Hormuz Grand, a beautiful five star property, before we began our discover Oman tour.

Entrance to heritage village Misfat al Abreyeen

FINS Beach: We drove past the village of Quriyat, a small fishing village on the Muscat Sur highway to reach FINS beach.  The sights of number of small hidden coves with beaches and cliffs dropping precipitously into the sea was amazing as we passed by.  The white sand beach with crystal clear water was an introduction to what we could further expect from Oman. Scuba diving facility and a campsite completed the perfect beach criteria.  Though we’re not prepared for scuba diving, it was amazing to sit and watch waves bashing the beach to create fresh surf. It had refreshed us to proceed on our trip to the desert.

Jabel Shams view

Jabel Shams view

Wahiba Sands:   The approach to Ramlat al-Wahiba, the desert is thrilling. Our four wheel land cruiser driver Shoeb Akthar halted at a garage at the edge of the desert to inflate the tyres. It was essential, he said, to attain proper control on balance while driving at high speeds through the desert.  He drove us through a vast mass of undulating red and white sand stretches and amazing dunes rising up to a height of 200 meters. The region is named after the popular Wahiba tribe. After the check-in and a quick fresh-up at the Desert Nights Campsite, we head out again to witness the sunset at the dunes. The rugged journey through the sandy roads was exciting and we realized the reason for an air check of the tyres before entering the desert.  The jeep had to climb steep ups and downs till we reached the peak point. We cherished evening sunrays as they reflected through the sand as we sat biting into Omani dates and sipped soft drinks. Another exhilarating experience followed as we got onto the jeeps to drive back. Driver Shoeb asked us to fasten our seatbelts and zoom; he drove to the edge of the dune and nosedived down to the base. It took a while for us to realize that we had not rolled down, but had safely reached the flat desert.  This kind of desert play was possible because of the good height of the dunes. It was a pleasant night sleep at the campsite after a thrilling experience.

Nizwa Fort

Nizwa: Next stop was at the historic cultural town of Nizwa. Guide Yousuf told us that Nizwa is considered as the capital of the interior region of Oman and it boasts of the famous round tower fort. The very sight as we walked towards it was majestic, with the magnanimity of the 17th century fort coming to life as we got closer. At over 30 meters of height and 110 meters of circumference, Nizwa fort’s brooding tower is the largest in the Arabian Peninsula. Bird’s eye view of the city atop the watchtower is magnificent. After the history of the fort, Nizwa’s traditional souq and its Friday market were inviting. Hand carved Oman Khanjars (traditional, decorated knife), silver jewellery, earthen pots and of course the Omani dates. Alrahi dates stuffed with nuts and coated with chocolate made a good buy for guys back home.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Jabel Shams:  It was time to hit Oman’s famous mountains. Jabel Shams, literally meaning the mountain of the sun is nicknamed as the Grand Canyon of the Middle East for its ruggedness, steep valleys and deep gorges. It brought back the memories of the 60s film Mackenna’s Gold. Jabel Shams is no less than Glen Canyon of Utah, or the Zuni Mountains of New Mexico where the Hollywood blockbuster was shot. It is part of Al Hajar Mountains range and has the highest mountain peak of the country at little above 3000 meters. The long drive with curves and bends was pleasant for the beautiful, ever-changing views of the mountain landscape. Huge mountains have a typical topography unique to the region. Beautiful pattern of the sand coloured stone mountains is a feast to the eye.  We continued the journey humming ‘Old Turkey Buzzard’, the opening song of the film Mackennas Gold.   It’s an ideal adventure sport destination with biking, hiking and trekking facilities.

View of the mountains during the dolphin watch tour

Misfat Al Abreyeen – Misfat al Abreyeen is a beautiful heritage village in the mountains just north of Nizwa. It falls on the tourist route and is well signposted. 800 year old village has marked walk ways throughout. We could see a few donkeys. Guide Yousuf said that it was the traditional mode of transportation as these are strong to climb mountainous terrains. Fresh spring water flowing from the hillside is channelized through Falaj (channel). Some children were enjoying the dip in the pool. It was pleasant to see cultivated greenery along the channel through the village.

Barka:  We stopped by the coastal town of Barka on the way to Muscat (80 kms). Yousuf mentioned bull-butting here as one of the main attractions.  Brahmin bulls, a local breed, are set nose-to-nose for a fight. Barka fort is an interesting, unusual octagonal tower. 18th-century Bayt Nua’man, a restored, old merchant house is interesting to observe local lifestyle. Two major resorts- the Al Nahda Resort and Al Swadi resort are in this tourist town.

Omani dates served with a smile

Muscat: We return back to capital Muscat after a beautiful experience of the desert, sea and the mountains. The ocean front city has retained most of its cultural essence. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Muttrah Souk (local market) are must visit sites.  A dolphin watching trip on a speed boat from Marina Bander Al Rowda is refreshing.  Curtains were drawn on our Oman visit as William Shakespeare’s Macbeth play came to an end at the Royal Opera House. We’re there in formals along with 1,100art enthusiasts at the city’s premium venue.

Natural and cultural blend of Oman has left us longing to return for repeat experiences.

Fact File:

Visa: Indian national needs a visa to visit Oman and this can be arranged by any Destination Management Company (DMC) in Oman

Getting there: Oman Air operates direct flights from Muscat to many Indian cities, such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode and Hyderabad

Recommended Hotels & Restaurants:  Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Al Bustan Palace Hotel- A Ritz Carlton Hotel, Hormuz Grand, Desert Night Camp, The View, Al Nahda Resort & Spa, Falaj Daris Hotel, Wadi Shab Resort, Sur Plaza Hotel, Sahab Hotel, Ramee Guestline Hotel, Mumtaz Mahal Restaurant, The Jungle Restaurant, On The Rocks Restaurant and Lounge and Kargeen Restaurant

Recommended Destination Management Companies (DMC’s) in Oman:  Gulf Ventures, Bahwan Travels, Oman World Tourism, Zahara Tours, Tour Oman, and Elite Travel & Tours

Recommended Book: ‘Arabian Sands’ by Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger

Emergency helpline: Police / Fire / Ambulance – 9999

Useful websites:  www.omantourism.gov.om , www.omanair.com

Written by : Anand & Madhura Katti

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. bruce weston says:

    nice article , will put on my bucket list now as , until now gave it no thought … About the tyres, think he would have REDUCED pressure , not increased – which is standard sand procedure

Comment on this Article:







Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Platinium Partnership

ADVERTISEMENTS

Elite Partnership Sponsors

ADVERTISEMENTS

Premier Partnership Sponsors

ADVERTISEMENTS

Official Media Event Partner

ADVERTISEMENTS

Global Travel media endorses the following travel publication

ADVERTISEMENTS

GLOBAL TRAVEL MEDIA VIDEOS