Oman – A 10 Day Trip

I know – it wasn’t on my radar either but I read an article in Wanderlust a few months back and followed up on it.    We’d  been to Dubai a couple of years ago but this sounded as though it had more character and more to offer (sorry Dubai!).

So from a bit of extra reading I knew:

♦ Its safe and welcomes visitors.

♦ There’s plenty of variety with mountains, desert and sea.

♦ Self driving is easy.

♦ Its straightforward enough to get there.

♦ Its expensive – (but in the same way as Dubai) – leisure activities,  hotel restaurants,  alcohol….

 

The Plan!

We wanted to see a bit of the country but also needed a few leisure days to just chill at the pool or beach and read.   So we concentrated on the region around Muscat and saved the south for another trip.

 

 

Day 1 – Travel and Arrival

Its about 7 hours from Dublin to Abu Dhabi with Ethiad and then a quick sprint through the terminal to make the connection to Muscat.   An hour later we arrived into a lovely new airport and,  as we already had our E-visas,  we just had to queue for passport control.  It probably took about an hour between that and baggage collection.

The car rental desks are all in the arrivals hall – we’d booked with Europcar and there was no delay.   While 4WD is essential for parts of the country,  its much more expensive so we opted for a 2WD and arranged other transport where necessary (more about that elsewhere).

The road from the airport leads directly into town.   We were staying at the Park Inn by Radisson for 2 nights (room only) and it was straight to bed!

 

Park Inn

The Positives:  Handy for airport / parking / few minutes walk from shopping mall / restaurants close by / nice rooftop pool / rooftop bar / very good breakfast

The Niggly Bits: Breakfast cost 10.61 OMR (about €24) / easy to miss the turn into the hotel.

 

 

 

Day 2 – Muscat

We don’t often opt for organised tours but I’d emailed  Nasser after reading about him on Tripadvisor.  He had one free day and could do a city tour with us.   Because of our late arrival,  he’d granted us a reprieve and collected us at 9.30am from the hotel.   It worked out very well because we had a fantastic introduction to the country and its religion and culture before we set off on our own.

 

The Grand Mosque

DSC_3299

 

The best tour guide!

IMG_20181027_112032685

 

Mutrah Corniche and Souq

20181103_191346

 

The Sultan’s ‘Yacht’ shares the harbour with cruise ships and traditional dhows.

img_20181027_123134446.jpg

 

Bayt al Zubair Museum has a complete miniature village.

20181027_134211.jpg

 

Sultan’s Palace.

IMG_20181027_135552788

 

Fortifications.

DSC_3398

DSC_3423

 

Parliament Buildings.

DSC_3441

 

Viewing Spots.

DSC_3447

 

Nasser deposited us back to our hotel after 5.5 hours.  The famous Lulu hypermarket was just around the corner so we got a few basic supplies for the road.

We finished up in Turkish House restaurant,  recommended by Nasser,  which was about a half hour walk from the hotel.

 

If you’d like to know more then have a look at Muscat – Impressions and Favourite Bits

 

Day 3 – Jebel Akhdar

We set off on our 5 day tour after breakfast.  Getting out of the city is straightforward and the roads are great.

We were starting in the mountains and spending the night on Jebel Akhdar.   Without a 4WD we could not access the plateau ( there is a police checkpoint at the base) so we’d arranged with our hotel to send a driver to meet us at the checkpoint.  The climb isn’t so bad – its coming back down that’s the problem and gear changing is needed rather than braking (hence the 4WD).  We were staying at the fabulous Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort (I know – a mouthful – we never really did get the name right!) and we spent the 35 minute trip gorging on the selection of nuts and dried fruits that was awaiting us in the car – nice touch!!.

 

The hotel is perched right at the edge of the canyon.

DSC_3517

 

The welcome tray – dates,  macaroons and juice.

20181028_121632

 

Our room

20181028_123901

 

The bedrooms are right at the edge of the canyon!

20181028_123946

 

A pool with a view!

DSC_3573

 

There were reports of rain but of course we didn’t believe them – this was the Middle East after all.   But sure enough it started during lunch and continued on and off all afternoon.   We’d only one night so we made the most of it and went out between the worst of the showers.  Heavy cloud spoiled some of the views but the place is breathtaking.   There is a walking route through 3 of the local mountain villages – the last of the pomegranates were falling from the trees and because of the weather,  there was no one about apart from a few goats.

 

DSC_3553

 

DSC_3554

 

DSC_3493

 

DSC_3535

 

DSC_3539

 

DSC_3527

 

DSC_3563

 

There were a few dinner choices but we opted for the buffet.   It was fab of course  with Omani,  International and Indian selections.   Not the place to take photos but I managed a few….

20181028_201650

 

20181028_201800

 

 

Day 4 – Jebel Akhdar » Bahla » Nizwa

 

Blue skies were promised until 11.00am so we headed off after breakfast for a short walk and a few more photos.

IMG_20181029_083224082

 

We’d a chance to enjoy the views from the pool before our driver brought us back to our car.

IMG_20181029_093533372

 

DSC_3656

 

Nice touch at the sun beds – face clothes and water in individual cool boxes.

IMG_20181029_085629623

 

Runaway ramps on the descent….

20181029_115311

 

Flash flooding the afternoon before had closed the road but all evidence of the heavy rains had disappeared.

20181029_120244

 

Back in our own car we enjoyed the changing landscapes and colours.

20181029_123501

 

20181029_123826

 

Bahla 

Bahla Fort is thought to have been built between the 12th and 15th centuries by local tribesmen.   Constructed of mud and straw, it dominates the surrounding oasis.    It underwent extensive restoration and was granted Unesco World Heritage Site status in 1987.

 

Imposing from the outside…

DSC_3660

 

Bigger than you think on the inside!…

IMG_20181029_135355183

 

Walls of mud and straw…

DSC_3677

 

Fabulous views of the oasis and surrounding hills…

DSC_3694

 

The walls extend for several kilometres.

DSC_3701

 

Nizwa

Raining again as we approach the double arched gateway – a familiar sight in Omani towns…

20181029_161905

 

We had a late lunch / early dinner in Al Mandi Al Dhahabi.  We each had a mandi dish (rice and meat) for about OMR 2 each (€4.50).

20181029_170402

 

Sun setting as we ate….

20181029_173022

 

20181029_180953

 

IMG_20181029_181346158

 

Our first date milkshake – yum!

20181029_182416

 

Al Karam Hotel Apartment

The Positives: Apartments basic but clean and spacious with bedroom,  sitting room,  kitchen and bathroom / parking / good  breakfast with omelettes made to order

The Niggly Bits: Bit outside town (15 minute drive)

 

 

Day 5  –  Nizwa » Wahibi Sands Desert

 

Nizwa Fort – worth it for the views alone…

DSC_3753

 

DSC_3779

 

DSC_3823

 

DSC_3798

 

DSC_3812

 

DSC_3772

 

This fort has more to offer families than Bahla Fort because of the displays and the demonstrations of traditional crafts.

 

DSC_3774

 

The souq is next to the fort.

DSC_3840

 

 

 

Isn’t this the place we had that date milkshake last night?…

DSC_3849

 

The town is very clean….

DSC_3744

 

DSC_3750

 

And as elsewhere in the country,  there is a big investment in tourism…

 

 

Back on the road…

DSC_3865

 

DSC_3877

 

DSC_3883

 

dsc_3874.jpg

 

DSC_3894

 

Lots of new houses to be seen everywhere….

DSC_3895

 

Wahibi Sands Desert

We were spending the night is the exotically named 1000 Nights Camp.   Once again,  without a 4WD we had to organise transport and were meeting our driver at the petrol station in Bidiyah – a town which appears to have sprung up as a gateway to the desert and survives on the tourist trade.

We were greeted at the petrol station by touts who descended upon us when then saw our non 4WD but they left us alone when they realised we had our transport sorted.

 

We shared a rice dish at the cafe before setting off on the 45 minute drive into the desert.

20181030_141152.jpg

 

Getting sandy!

DSC_3898

 

Not far now I think…

20181030_150500

 

Home sweet home!

20181030_153153

 

Once a boy scout……

DSC_3904

 

Goodie pack and loo / showers

 

We’re not far from reception and amenities….

DSC_3907

 

Our posh neighbours…. we’ll be heading up those dunes in a while..

DSC_3917

 

But first a look around…

DSC_3920

 

20181031_085913

 

20181031_090009

 

And then a swim…

DSC_3922

 

People on the move …time to go…

DSC_3931

 

Its about a 20 minute climb but there’s help if you need it…

DSC_3938

 

The last of the sun on the camp below…

DSC_3939

 

DSC_3953

 

DSC_3951

 

DSC_3958

 

DSC_3968

 

Another buffet – meze,  lentil soup,  paneer curry,  lamb and chicken dishes,  veg,  deserts,  mint tea….

20181030_194836

 

The entertainment…..

20181030_205356

 

 

 

Day  6 – Wadi Bani Khalid – Sur – Ras al Jinz

 

Sunrise is at 5.45 today….

20181031_061423

 

DSC_3979

 

IMG_20181031_063345257

 

I don’t know about you but I’m going back to bed!!!…

IMG_20181031_062540590_HDR

 

Its after breakfast and guests have signed up for camel rides or dune bashing before heading off….

20181031_090808

 

We spot several Bedouin settlements on the way back to town.

 

 

20181031_092149

 

Wadi Bani Khalid

Once back at our car in Bidiyah,  an hour’s drive brought us to the beautiful Wadi Bani Khalid.   Its a busy spot  and be prepared to get your feet wet on the way in.   Swimming is allowed but there is a strict dress code – women must wear a t shirt over their togs.

 

Parking stretches out along the access road…

DSC_4021

 

Of course there are always those who can’t get close enough!….

DSC_4022

 

DSC_4027

 

DSC_4034

 

There is a restaurant and a few picnic tables at the big pool….

IMG_20181031_113450540

 

Unfortunately we hadn’t time for a swim….

DSC_4058

 

DSC_4063

 

DSC_4045

 

New roads and settlements on the way to Sur…

DSC_4085

 

 

DSC_4092

 

Sur

Sur would be a nice town in which to spend a night but we were only passing through so just had an hour or so to see the beach,  harbour and the famous Dhow Yards.

DSC_4115

 

You can wander in to a yard and watch the boat builders at work… dhows are still built in the traditional way.

DSC_4161

 

DSC_4171

 

Health and Safety isn’t an issue!…

DSC_4168

 

Get your hands away from that pole!!…

DSC_4146

 

DSC_4240

 

DSC_4127

 

Further along the corniche there is a restored dhow and smaller boats.

DSC_4202

 

The  harbour was protected by the now familiar round towers…

DSC_4234

 

Looks nice up there – but we haven’t enough time…

DSC_4228

 

 

Ras al Jinz

Please read Oman – 12 Hours at Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve to find out about our night at Ras al Jinz.

20181031_213553

 

 

Day 7  – Wadi Shab  » Sinkhole Park  »  Muscat

 

Sunrise at Ras al Jinz

20181101_061352

 

20181101_060409

 

Barren but beautiful…

DSC_4281

 

 

DSC_4288

 

DSC_4284

 

Wadi  Shab

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d taken a wrong turn – with the massive motorway above you, this couldn’t possibly be the most popular attraction in Oman!

 

IMG_20181101_111844430

 

20181101_111535

 

Ah – that’s better!…

20181101_112519

 

It takes about 45 minutes – most of the path is straightforward!…

IMG_20181101_120330729

 

IMG_20181101_115113127

 

20181101_121516

 

You can continue hiking over the cliffs along goat trails….

IMG_20181101_130753485

 

Our stop at the pools for a swim….

20181101_133128

 

Bliss…

IMG_20181101_123815732

 

 

Sinkhole Park

Further along the coast towards Muscat is Sinkhole Park.   This limestone hole is probably more interesting if you head down the steps for a swim.  There’s a nice park with playground and walks built around the hole.

DSC_4354.JPG

 

 

Day 8 – 10   Muscat

3 days of doing pretty much nothing!  We’d our Friday brunch at the Chedi to look forward to,  we’d go back to Mutrah souq and pay a quick visit to the Grand Mall but otherwise that was it – just sun,  books and food!

 

Our hotel was at one end of Qurm Beach…

20181104_141249

 

With its own private beach – the water was amazing ….

20181102_094523

 

Lots of space – no sunbed wars here!…

IMG_20181102_090223973

 

They serve the BEST breakfast we’ve ever had!!

IMG_20181103_084153982

 

Seafood Dim Sum, French toast or grilled Halloumi …

 

Exotic fruits,  smoothies and milkshakes (date flavour today!) and runny honey!…

 

Walking the beach – or not!…

 

An Arabic Wrap for lunch by the pool or fried Kingfish for dinner in Mutrah….

 

Out and about at night….

20181103_210123

 

Or joining the locals who sit along the corniche and admire the cars that cruise up and down for hours at the weekends.

 

20181102_213055

 

We had a ball!!

 

IMG_20181103_171624985

 

 

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

 

Advertisements

One thought on “Oman – A 10 Day Trip

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s