Discover Oman

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Discover Oman

Muscat : Muscat, the capital city of Oman lies sparking white, topped with golden minarets in the middle of amaze of brown pleated mountains reaching down to the Arabian sea. Described as “Arabia’s jewel”, this city is a blend of the old and the new. Muscat is green as green can be, and defies being classified as part of a desert country. The roads are lined with well-manicured green lawns and trees. During winter this is interspersed with a profusion of multicolored flowers. The city has steadfastly retained its old –world character. Old Muscat has a quaint charm about it with many forts, castles, mosques and towers doting the landscape. Of particular note are jalali and mirani forts flanking Al Alam Palace.

 The Corniche, with its promenade and souqs (markets) is one of the highlights of the city.  The old souq of muttrah is an ideal spot for tourists to buy keepsakes and treasures Greater Muscat boasts high-rise business properties  (but not too high), world-class highways, upscale suburbs rooted in traditional Islamic architecture elegant mosques, large green parks, archaeological sites, museums and world-class hotels. It is no wonder that Muscat is increasingly becoming an attractive tourist destination among the world’s travel going public.

 

Nizwa:Nizwa, the verdant oasis city with its blend of the modern and the ancient was the capital of  Oman during the 6th and 7th century. One of the oldest cities of the Sultanate, this was once a center of education and art. Nizwa has been an important cross roads at the base of the Western hajar Mountains connecting Muscat, Buraimi, and the lower reaches of  Dhofar. The falaj Daris of Nizwa is the largest single falaj in Oman and Provides the Surrounding Country. Side with much needed  water for the plantation. The city, famous for its historical  monuments, handicrafts and agricultural products, has an expansive Souq  Showcasing  a wonder full array of  handicrafts – coffee pots, swords, leather goods, silverware, antiques, and household utensils. Nizwa fort, completed in the 1650’s, was the seat of power during the rule of the Al Ya’ ruba dynasty and is Oman’s most visited National monument.

The reconstructed Sultan Qaboos Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Oman . In the evening, the call of the muezzin fills the air calling the faithful to prayer. A few kilometres from Nizwa lies the mysterious town of bahla is the home of myths and legends that have carried through the centuries. Some people today still believe that magic is afoot in bahla and many Omanis are superstitious when it comes to talking about bahla. This little town is famous for its pottery. The old bahla fort with its 12km wall is the oldest fort in Oman. The fort is believed to have been built in pre-Islamic times and is now undergoing reconstruction sponsored by UNESCO and the site is included on UNESCO’s list of world Heritage monuments. A short distance beyond Bahla lies the Castle of jabreen. This massive three –storied was also built during  Al Ya’ruba dynasty of the mid 1600’s It is a fine example of Islamic architecture with beautiful wooden inscriptions and paintings on the ceilings. Other interesting locales between Nizwa and Bahla are the 400-year –old  village of misfah  Al Abreen.

 

Jebel Akhdar in Arabic means “Green Mountains” and this region of the most verdant outside of salalah and the Batinah Coast . To go there requires a 4- wheel drive (and a road permit because of military installations in the area ). One of the most scenic areas in Oman, coupled with the friendly local inhabitants, this region is a natural spot for tourism. Points of interest include the towns of wadi Bani Habib, Saiq and Al Ayn, where local farmers raise grapes, pomegranates, apricots and walnuts  The climate is moderate year round as the mean altitude is about 1800 metres. Also of  interest is the lookout over the canyon recently named Diana’s point, for the late princess of wales who spent time here in the late 80s.

Westrn hajar mountainsBeyond Nizwa, the southern flanks of the Western  Hajar Mountains can be readily seen rising over 2000 metres above the surrounding countryside. Within these mountains, rugged networks of wadi channels have carved network of dramatic canyons and caver. The most fertile of these have been cultivated by the hardy shuwawis ,mountain people, Who have adapted to this harsh lifestyle under the tropic sun. At wadi Tanuf, the aver – flowing springs are tapped  to produce a commercially popular brand drinking water. In Al Hamra, 400 years–old mud houses are still standing and occupied to this day. Out along the nearby wadi at hasat bin Sult Rock, ancient petroglyphs estimated  to be over 3000 years old lie in wait. The dark reaches of the  Falahi/ Hoti  cave system await intrepid spelunkers. Hidden neatly in a crevasse on the mountainside lies Misfah al abreen a garden paradise of humble farmers and herders. To the west of  Al Hamra is the road to jabel shams(mountain of the sun ), the tallest peak in Oman at 3010 metres. Here it is where you can find one of Oman’s Greatest natural wonders, the wadi nakhr Gorge. Inside the canyon, you can  haggle with the local rug weavers, trek to the cliff  dwelling along the canyon rim and visit remains of towns once occupied ages ago by Persian settlers. Rock climbers will want to test their mettle on the stony crags of jebel Misht while antiquarians will want to visit the mysterious Beehive Tombs of Bat.

WAHIBA SANDSThe great Wahiba sands are longitudinal dunes 200 km long and 100 km wide  running south from the Eastern Hajars to the Arabian Sea. The dunes are 100-150 metres high in shades of  colour from orange to hues of amber. Bedouin camps can be found along the tracks and trails in this isolated desert. In sporadic areas can be found stands of single-species woodlands . where the sands meet the ocean, outcrops of  aolianite (sand compressed into rock )can be found displaying unusual and attractive abstract shapes. Here the beaches mellow into soft shades of yellows and whites. To the west of the Wahiba of the small towns of Rawdah, Samad Ash Shan, Al Akdar and Lizq. Rawdah and Samad Ash Shan contain ruins and reconstructions of old forts while Al Akdar is the home of Omanis pit weavers who design elegant textiles from their looms dug into the ground.At Lizq can be found remains of structures that date back to Bronz Age.South of Lizq are the prosperous towns of Al Mudaybi and Sinaw where you can find almost every day the bustling souq at the centre of town.

Nakhl-Rustaq LoopFrom the Batinah Coast to the west of  Muscat along the base of the jebels are several key towns of special interest. Along the coast is the town of Barka with an impressive fort and Bait l Naman Castle ,an early home for the Al Busaid dynasty(the ruling family).Further along the coast is the Jazir Sawaidi,a small chain of island near the shore where beach combing,fishing and exploring are the prime activities. Closer to the mountains lie the majestic fortresses of Nakhl,Rustaq and Al Hazm. Restored by the government and preserved as national treasures.For those bent on trekking ,there are many wadis running through the foothills and mountains, many of them with running water. Wadi Abyadh is ideal for picnicking, while Wadi Bani Awf,Wadi Hajir, Wadi Haylayan and wadi Bani Kharus offer challenging trails for those keen on canyoning. Wadi Sahtan and the Ghubrah Bowl extend in to the upper reaches of the Western Hajars, While Wadi Hoquein and Wadi Ghafir offer challenging drives through lush low lying valleys.

   

 

 MASIRAH ISLANDMasirah is idyllic for those who really want to get away from it all.It is an island in the Indian ocean,20 kms off central Oman coast just south of the Wahiba Sands.Tha stark rocky landscape is rimmed with isolated beaches whose only visitors are the logger head turtles that come to nest there. Beachcombers may come across a variety of shell fish and other specimens of marine life. There is also evidence of early settlements

SALALAHNestled in the southern region of Oman, Salalah has the benefit of the annual Indian monsoon: locally known as the Khareef.This monsoon, which extends  from early June to mid September,transforms the countryside in to a veritable garden with tumbling waterfalls and meandering streams.The Khareef season is a good time to visit Salalah.In July and August the government plays host for the annual Khareef  Festival,a cultural highlight of the season. Salalah is steeped in myths and legends that date back to biblical times.In the Jebel Qara can be found the tomb of the Prophet Ayoub,better known as Job of the Old Testament.In Khawr Rhori lie the ruins of the palace reputed to be that of the Queen of Sheba.In the surrounding countryside on the flanks of the jebels grows the Boswellia sacra better known for the sap it produces:Frankincense. Frankincense, of course,is best known to Christians as one of the gifts of the Magi in Nativity story.In all probability the Frankincense that was a gift to the baby Jesus came from Oman as the Boswellia sacra tree grows nowhere else.For most of the year, The unspoiled beaches of Salalah are ideal for scuba diving,canoeing,sailing,jet skiing and diving.The marshy khawrs along the coast line are sanctuaries to a broad variety of migrating birds turning the region in to a bird watchers paradise.But during the summer Salalah is easily Oman’s coolest destination to visit during the Khareef with its crisp unpolluted air,cool misty clime,high rolling seas and leafy ambiance.Less than half an hour’s drive from Salalah is Ain Razat,a picnic spot with springs,hills,gardens and streams. Nearby is the equally resplendent Ain Sahanawt. Seventy Kilo-meters east of Salalah lies Mirbat,famous for Bin Ali’s tomb(Bin Ali was revered in the early days of Islam as a sage and holy man). Taqah, 36 kms from Salalah is a picturesque,quaint village.The fort at Taqah goes back several hundred years and is well stocked with authentic decorations and appointments.

Rising high above the coast is the Jebel Samham plateau, the highest point in Dhofar at 1800 meters.Here you can find the hanging valley of Wadi Dirbat which is impressive in full flood. Further into the jebels  is Tawi Attir(the hole of the birds),a natural sink hole over 100 meters wide and 250 metres deep. Nestled in a hidden valley is the Baobab Forest with huge bulbous trees,one tree over 2000 years old and 30 feet in diameter at its base.