Oman is an exceptionally beautiful country with 5 key natural features – beaches, mountains, the sea, wadis and the desert. All are accessible and combined, make for a spectacular adventure in Oman.
Oman borders the Sea of Oman on 2 sides – 3165 km of coastline. Much of that is sublime beach, some of it very remote and some very populated by resorts. In between the beach areas, craggy mountains drive their way down into the sea, adding to the splendor of the beachscapes.
The mountains of Oman are amazing – bare and intimidating and stretching for miles – like never-ending giant lumps of ore clumped together. It was the Blue Mountains of Oman that first attracted me to #OmanMy2Home, and I have fallen deeply in love with view of the mountain ranges receding and lightening into the distance – every shade of blue from pastel to deep indigo. Some mountains have fabulous resorts at the top. Many have ancient villages perched in the canyons. Most have falaj systems of water management – irrigating vast areas from single springs. The culture of the mountain people – jebalis – was once one of privacy but is now very welcoming.
Irrigation is needed because Oman is so hot and dry. But that doesn’t mean it is all desert. The desert is special – dunes of sand ranging in color from snowy white or pale amber to glowing peach. You can actually see the line demarking sand and typical white, grainy soil. The desert is a special place to camp – silent black nites with endless stars. The bedouin culture still thrives and enchants visitors with graceless camels, swooping tents, and wild sandy races.
Deep deep canyons called wadis tear gaps into the mountains. Sometimes rainwater or spring water collects in lovely blue pools. Often small stands of palm trees and grasses edge the flat, rocky bottom of the wadis through which temporary roads bounce and swerve between larger stones. They are temporary because, when it rains, water races down through the wadis in flash floods, sweeping away roads and sometimes people. Although rain is rare, Jebalis and campers always keep an eye on the sky.
The only place for the water to go, then, is to the sea. While most people think of Omanis as former desert dwellers, mountain tribesmen or coastal farmers, in fact, many were and still are fishermen. The sea is vast and fresh and tantalizing – inviting guests to Oman to try deep-sea fishing and diving that are second to none. From time immemorial, Omanis have sailed in wooden dhows all the way from Zanzibar to Indonesia routinely on the monsoon winds. The sea brought the world to Oman, and Oman is a very multicultural, multi-facetted society as a result.
I’ve just enjoyed the company of a good friend on her first visit to Oman, and I was determined that she would see the Big Five.
We started out at the traditional fishing village of Al Bustan and the beach that I call home.
Then to the mountain village of Misfah Al Abriyeen where we stayed at the Misfah Old House – an ancient stone house transformed to a guest house – with lots and lots of steps! The hospitality and the views were tremendous!
On the short drive to Sharkiya Sands and our desert resort, we stopped off at Bahla Fort and Souq Nizwa – special stops to take in Omani culture.
And I always take guests to Birkat Al Mouz – Banana Garden – where an ancient stone village seems to flow down to the falaj and gardens.
Into the desert, we “enjoyed” the dune bashing – I can scream and enjoy at the same time. Then we slept in a huge bedouin tent with sand drifting over us in the evening wind. The food at the Oryx Arabian Camp was exceptional.
On the long-way home, first detoured into Wadi Bani Khalid that is famous for the swimming holes and extensive falaj.
Then we passed by the coastal city of Sur where dhows are still made, and the popped into Wadi Tiwi on the way back to Muscat. This kind of beach and wadi are directly set against each other – mountains and sea are separated only by a small plateau of rocks.
And finally to the sea – first a sunset cruise on a traditional dhow from Sidab Sea Tours.
And then a very successful fishing trip with two local experts.
So that’s how easy it is to do Oman’s Big Five.