DAY 01: ARRIVAL MUSCAT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT–HOTEL
Your trip to Oman begins upon arrival Muscat International Airport. After clearing immigration and customs, you will be met in the arrivals area by our friendly chauffer who will assist you to your hotel.
After breakfast, the guide will meet you at the hotel and take you to the first stop on your tour - Dolphin watching and Muscat sightseeing. You will arrive at Marina Bander Rowdha 15 minutes before agreed time before setting out to sea. The boat ride out into the sea offers superb views of the mountainous coastline, palm trees and deep blue sea. Light refreshments will be provided on the boat.
After returning to the show, your guide will drive you to Qantab where you will be able to relax at Oman Dive Center, home to one of the most pristine beaches in Muscat and enjoy lunch at the onsite restaurant if you choose. Later you will drive along the picturesque Corniche to the once-walled district of Muscat’s old town called Muttrah. Here you will visit Bait Al Zubair Museum, home to ancient Omani artefacts, pieces of art and historic photographs, and stop for photos at the gates of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’ residence, Al Alam Palace, which is flanked by the 16th century Portuguese forts Mirani and Jalali. Unfortunately it is not possible to enter the residence.
In the evening you will be able to stroll through the traditional Muttrah Souq, a market where you will be able to bargain for spices, silk scarves, handicrafts and silver items.
You will be met at your hotel for a full day city tour, beginning with a visit to the beautiful Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the Middle East. The tour then takes you to the Amouage Factory, a world-famous luxury perfume created in Oman before proceeding towards the Al Batinah region and the city of Rustaq, once the capital of Oman during the era of Imam Nasir bin Murshid al Ya’arubi. Rustaq Fort, built four centuries prior to the dawn of Islam in Oman, is an imposing structure built on three levels, containing separate houses, an armoury, mosque and four towers. The tallest tower stands over 18.5m high and has a diameter of 6m.
The journey continues to Nakhal and its 17th Century Fort built on the peak of a mountain.
Nakhal Fort is one of the most spectacular forts in Oman, dramatically located at the edge of the Jebel Akhdar mountains in North West Oman and surrounded by a beautiful oasis. There is an area with healing warm springs, the most notable being Ayn A’Thowarah. Its waters run at 45°C and are regarded as a cure for rheumatism and skin diseases due to its high sulphur content.
We then drive through the spectacular Wadi Bani Auf. This stretch of graded road is very bumpy and features a series of steep bends. You will return to Muscat for the evening.
Your tour will begin after breakfast with a visit to Jabrin Castle, one of the finest castles of its kind in Oman. Built in 17th century, it features magnificent plasterwork, and the carved doors and painted wooden beams of the ceilings makes this castle unique in the country. Afterwards, you will visit Bahla, one of the oldest small towns of Oman and famous for its pottery. Bahla is the historic capital of the tribe living in the region dating back to the 12th century. As the monumental fort is closed for renovation only a photo stop is planned.
We will then proceed towards Al Hamra and Misfah to see one of the oldest villages in this region. The traditional mud houses dating back over 400 years are still occupied. The afalaj irrigation system used in this village is one of the oldest of this kind and a recognised UNESCO world heritage site. We will then head to Wadi Gul and Wadi Nakhar, the remote villages exactly at the drop point of a great canyon. Your journey continues to the top of Jebel Shams, meaning ‘Sun Mountain’ in Arabic and Oman’s highest peak at 3009 metres. The cooler temperatures at this altitude will surprise as we reach the top to get a spectacular view of the ‘Grand Canyon’. We will return to Nizwa and spend the night there.
In the morning, we will visit the important Nizwa Fort, one of the most impressive forts in Oman, with its massive Circular Cannon Tower, and from there the traditional Cattle market and Friday Souq if available. The tour will then proceed towards Jebel Akhdar where your guide will take you for an incredible journey. First, you will make your way to the picturesque village of Birkat Al Mauz, located at the foot of Jebel Akhdar where you will be able to wander in the old streets of abandoned houses made of mud and straw.
Your guide will then take you to the top of Jebel Akhdar, also famous for its rose, fruit and nut plantations, where there are many small villages which farm some of the best produce in Oman. Depending on the season you can visit the rose water factory. Rose water from Jebel Akhdar is very famous in Oman and exported across the region. From the top, you will be able to see the villages on the other side that cling to the rock walls, as well as the terraced rose plantations. If you wish you can trek the wadi from Al Aqur village and your guide will meet you at the next village.
You will be able to explore the hanging gardens before heading to your last stop, Wadi Bani Habib, a charming little abandoned village perched on a wadi, where there is a trek to reach the village but you can also see it from the road. This tour is a delightful way to escape the heat because of the cooler mountain air. You will spend the night in Nizwa.
The tour starts after breakfast with a trip to the small village of Ibri Bat, home to a remarkable array of Bronze Age tombs, towers and other remains which have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 (along with those at nearby Al Ayn). The site dates back to between 2000 and 3000 BC, forming, according to UNESCO, “the most complete collection of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium BC in the world”
After breakfast, the tour will head to the camel market in the village of Sinaw and then to Munsifa to walk through the remains of the old Ibra village with its clay houses. From here, you will head towards Wahiba Sands, a vast mass of undulating red and white sea of sand. Laid out before us like a great ocean of sand, the endless dunes, some rising to 100 metres in height, are generally rusty red at the base and honey coloured on the top – creating an alluring landscape of changing contours and colours. The sands are home to the Bedouin, groups of nomadic tribesmen who roam the land with goats and camels, or, more commonly now, living in small fishing villages. After an exhilarating drive across the dunes, we will stop for the night in the Wahiba Sands where sunset promises stunning photo opportunities amidst the spectacular dunes, before we settle down for another night under the desert sky in a camp environment.
You will leave the camp after breakfast and head to Qahid, crossing the Wahiba Sands dunes. Please note that it takes up to 4 hours to cross the desert and drive through to Ras Al Hadd. We will stop part way through the journey for a picnic lunch at the Al Ashkara Beach.
After an early dinner, you will visit the turtle sanctuary at Ras Al Jinz, where the Green Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs at night, after a journey of thousands of kilometres. You then return to the hotel in Ras Al Hadd for the night.
DAY 09: SUR DHOW FACTORY-VILLAGE OF AYJA-WADI TIWI-WADI SHAB-WHITE SANDS BEACH-BIMMAH SINK HOLE-MUSCAT.
After breakfast, the tour will head to the city of Sur. Once a centre for maritime trade, Sur gained a reputation as a major centre for the Dhow building industry. The tour will visit the Dhow Building Yard, as well as Al Ayja village before continuing on towards Qalhat which is famous for its history of exports to and imports of spices from India and the Bibi Miryam Tomb where we will stop for photographs. The tomb is currently closed for archaeological searches.
You will then stop and enter Wadi Tiwi and Wadi Shab, with its green pools and lush plantations which means a ‘wadi between the cliffs’ and enjoy a walk through the wadi. Please note that walking shoes are strongly recommended.
Going into the wadi, you will soon see pools appearing before you and you may also choose to enjoy a refreshing swim. The tour then continues towards to Bimmah Sinkhole, a spectacular limestone crater with inviting blue-green water. Concrete steps lead down to the water making swimming and paddling possible. Afterwards, we then head back to Muscat.
Transfer from hotel to airport for departure.