Oman has a gloriously rich heritage that beams through its urban landscapes and its natural wonders. Its proud identity is strongly grounded in its ancient past and is in a wonderful harmony with the slowly and subtly increasing modernity of city life. Oman offers a real action-packed holiday by wandering the windy streets of the cities, going back to its roots in the desert, viewing some amazing wildlife, or kicking back on the beach and feeling truly tropical.
The capital Muscat is Oman’s best showcase of modernity with its beautiful selection of chic hotels, fine-dining restaurants, boutique shopping malls and network of speeding highways. Muscat is also the administrative capital, with a row of mismatched high-rises, and contemporary stately government buildings. In 2011, the Royal Opera House was opened and has pushed Muscat onto the international stage showing its progression as city.
In saying this, there are still prevalent pockets of the past around Muscat. Its port district Muttrah and the Old Muscat quarter are defined by old Portuguese forts, ornate Arabian architecture and lively mosques. The Muscat Souq, is a traditional Arab market selling artifacts, antiques, hardware and textiles. Get lost among its chaotic atmosphere, and Aladdin’s cave like stalls, and try out one of the coffee stops.
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Jebel Shams, or Mountain of the Sun, is Oman’s highest mountain and offers spectacular jagged beauty. It also provides an outstanding view into the Wad Ghul by its side. Known by the locals as the Grand Canyon, because of its steep cliffs cracked by flat canyon landscape.
In terms of things to do, there’s pretty much an abundance of carpet sellers and not much else. However, if you take a picnic then your day can easily be filled driving round the steep roads with vertical drop cliff edges and stopping often to take in the serenity of the landscape.
These endless, gorgeous sands will undoubtedly excite the adventurer spirit in you. The sands provide a view of the traditional way of life as they are home to the Bedu. One of the noteworthy aspects of the Bedouin camps is that the Bedouin lifestyle offers the Omani woman a more active social role, being drivers and craftspeople.
There’s also an abundance to do such as camel-trekking, overnight camping in a Bedouin camp and exploring its rich culture. Plus there’s the offer of unmistakable peace and serenity as you’re closed off from modern influences. Camp out under the star spotted sky for a picture of nature’s pure beauty.
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Another of nature’s wonders can be found at the Wadi Shab. Translating as ‘gorge between cliffs’, it hosts sparkling turquoise pools, waterfalls and terraced plantations. The landscape truly is picturesque and hiking through the gorges is a great way to spend your day. Swimming is not permitted in the lower pools but to cool off you can head for a dip in the upper ones.
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve.
The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve offers a wonderful opportunity to get close to Oman’s wildlife. The best time for hatching is between May and September and whilst this is unfortunately Oman’s high season for temperature and humidity it’s definitely worth the climate it see this natural phenomenon. Oman is home to the endangered Green Turtle, the Olive Ridley Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle and the endangered Hawksbill.
The reserve offers early morning and evening tours to view the nesting as well as great museum with research laboratories to explore and increase your learning. There’s also rooms available, including luxury Eco-tents.
Salalah is the vibrant and colourful subtropical capital of the Dhofar region and is the second-largest city in Oman. Its lush natural landscape is known for the banana plantations, waterfalls, coconut beaches and array of tropical sea life.
The old Haffa Souq is certainly worth a wander round and so is its opposite- the modern Salalah Gardens mall. Al Haffa beach is another point for relaxation and is wonderfully lined with palm trees, as well as being a good spot for bird-watching.
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What’s enticing you about Oman? Let us know in the comments below.
(Cover photo courtesy of Family Traveler.)