Oman is a small country nestled between UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Arabian Sea. Due to popularity of UAE as a tourist and aviation hub, Oman has always been a local tourist’s getaway. But of late, Oman has come out of the shadows and emerged as a popular tourist destination. The small nation has an interesting topography, with desert and valleys, mountain and coastal plains. Surrounded by the insurmountable desert of Rub-Al-Khali in Saudi Arabia on one side, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman on the other side, Al Hajar Mountains separating the coast from Desert, have kept Oman an isolated country, safe from invaders. This isolation has preserved its natural wonders from the outside forces and today Oman is emerging as a natural and cultural attraction.
I visited Oman a few times from UAE by road. Musandam, a part of Oman, is totally separated from the rest of Oman and accessible by road only through UAE. Musandam coastline is surrounded by rugged stone mountains without any vegetation, which appear to rise from the sea. Take a wooden boat cruise on Musandam waters. The traditional wooden boat is called Dhow and you can easily imagine yourself to be in a fairyland aboard a boat out to discover new shores. The beautiful mid-size open boat has open seating on the carpeted floor and you can have a beautiful day in the sun enjoying the sea breeze, deep blue waters surrounded by imposing mountains. There is hardly any noise or commotion, sea is quiet and calm, tranquil emerald waters and fjords make for a beautiful symphony. You can spot dolphins in the water and get down for a swim and snorkelling at designated spots. The dhow takes you to small bay where you disembark and enjoy time on the small white sandy beach and aquamarine water. Due to this area being isolated by its topography, there is almost zero pollution here and the air and water are as clean as they can be. Local operators arrange beach camping also and you can spend a night by the beach, in a tent, before you head for a cruise.
Golden Tulip Dibba: Spend a night or two at the beautiful resort by the beach. The long coastline of the beach resort with Hajar Mountains in the backdrop makes for a stunning sight. Watch the most beautiful sunrise on the Gulf Of Oman, spot a dhow cruising on deep blue water, sit down on the coarse sand and you are sure a compose a beautiful poem, paint a landscape or sing your favourite song. Climb up the hill covered with sand and enjoy the view from top, post a tent, bring your food and spend a lovely evening on the beach. There’s not much to do in town nor will you find many restaurants around, hence it’s a perfect day off at the resort, by the beach, sun, sand and the view.
Image credit (C Ze Unsplash)
Desert Camp in Wahabi Sands:
Going deep inside a huge barren desert and staying in a tent is one of the most popular and exciting adventures in Oman. If you are self-driving, your car will be parked in the nearest town and a 4by4 takes you onwards. The tyres are deflated at a gas station before you enter the desert area and you are taken almost 20 to 25 kilometres inside the desert. There are camp sites run by different operators, some basic, and some luxury too, but a standard basic tent is good enough. You are treated to the traditional Omani hospitality with Omani coffee, dates, and mint tea. The camp site offers various activities, traditional music played by local artists, camel rides and Arabic Food. At night the desert cools down and you can hear strange noises from a distance. Sprawl on the powdery sand, bask in moon light, sing and dance, count the stars and wonder about the life Bedouins lived, in these deserts.
Road Trip through Oman:
The best way to see Oman is by road because of the vast network of well maintained, open, wide roads, clear traffic signs in English and relatively long stretches of empty roads outside the capital city, with desert and mighty mountains to give you company. The fact that fuel is cheap, is a plus too. Other than the drive and intriguing view, you can enjoy the landscape dotted with traditional Omani homes, almost all of them in light brown sand colour, with a tower and Arab style windows. It makes for a pretty picture and a relaxing sight, with such traditional architecture and old towns losing out to tall apartments and glass facades all over the world. Drive through Al Hajar Mountains, stay a night at Muscat, visit Omani Fort and Grand Mosque, hop into local souk to buy dates, local handicraft or the traditional Omani dress. Visit Al Hoota Cave, a limestone cave with stalactite structures formed by water hosts a fragile eco system. There are many activities that you can enjoy depending on the time you have with you.
Weekend trip or a fortnight you are sure to love the time by empty beaches, azure water, barren mountains and shifting golden dunes in a charming land that seems to have turned the clock back by a few years.
An Omani proverb says:
‘What is late is great.’
(Image Credit: Pixabay)