Reasons to Visit
With all of these mountains, wadis and desert dunes, it is probably apparent that a saloon car isn't going to suffice for many of the journeys you take in Oman! A 4WD, piloted by a skilled local, is very often required and adds to the sense of adventure.
Oman's miles of coastline are a veritable haven of white-sand beaches and secluded coves. Whether you choose to stay in a downtown Muscat hotel where the beach is wide and open, or to head to somewhere like Musandam, where your hotel is likely to be the only thing for miles around, Oman's beaches are one of her major attractions.
The Wahiba Sands are easily accessible from Muscat and provide an insight into desert life. The tall dunes hide small Bedouin encampments, and a surprising array of wildlife. For the truly adventurous, the legendary sands of the Rub' al Khali, or Empty Quarter, beckon in the south of the country.
Although a clichéd phrase, much of Oman is relatively untouched by Western influences, and when you stand at Nizwa market watching the locals haggle over livestock, or admire the way fields have been terraced into impossibly steep mountainsides, you're appreciating a more traditional lifestyle.
The Hajar Mountains have kept the interior of Oman isolated for millennia , and the remote villages steeply terraced into the mountainsides seem little changed in that time. In Salalah the mountains have captured the moisture in the ocean air, allowing the liquid gold of frankincense to be grown on their slopes.
Cutting through heavily folded rock, with pretty streams and swaying palms nestled in their beds, the wadis of Oman are a major attraction, from the gentle and peaceful Wadi Bani Khalid through to the drama of Wadi Gul, with its 1 kilometre sheer sides.
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The Wahiba Sands is a large desert area just four hours drive from Muscat. A surprisingly wide array of flora and fauna call the sands home, as do about 3,000 Bedouin.
The Wahiba Sands is a large desert area just four hours drive from Muscat.
Its geography is mixed: in the north are smaller dunes and wide flat areas, to the east the dunes pile up to 100 metres against the ocean, and in the south, at Barr El Hikman, is a vast expanse of flat sand dotted with treacherous salt flats and home to huge populations of migrating birds.
A surprisingly wide array of flora and fauna call the sands home, as do about 3,000 Bedouin, some of whom you will get to meet when you visit the Wahiba.
There are also camps to spend the night in the desert, a remarkable experience that starts with a golden sunset, continues with a densely-starred sky and concludes with the soft light of a desert dawn.
Leaving the Wahiba Sands, a scenic drive passes between the contorted slopes of the eastern Hajar mountains and the shore, past the stunning water pools and shady canyon of Wadi Bani Khalid.
On the coast, Ras Al Junayz is a small sandy bay where green turtles come ashore to nest all year round (though the principal nesting season is July to September) and there is the opportunity to visit the turtles in the late evening or early morning.
From here you follow the coast, passing through small villages and towns scattered along the shoreline. The area is beautiful, despite clear signs of the damage caused by the 2007 cyclone Gonu.
Closer to Muscat, shining white beaches nestle under rocky overhangs, and a collapsed cave has created an impressive sinkhole.
Holidays in Oman offer the visitor a wealth of attractions, from the bustling capital, Muscat, to the desert expanse of the Wahiba Sands. This travel guide provides advice on where to stay, what to see and where to go if you are visiting this enchanting country for the first time.
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Further reading:Tours in OmanWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout OmanCountry Guides
Other countries in North Africa & the Middle East:EgyptIranJordanLebanonLibyaMoroccoSyriaTunisia
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