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Oman may be nestled in one of the acridest areas of the world, but it abounds in natural beauty. A visit to Oman is going to be grand and mesmerizing with all of its wadis, stunning mosaic works, tall minarets, and emerald sinkholes. You are going to witness grandeur in its raw form as you graze through the streets of Oman- a beauty that can only be wholly be felt while you are in the country. So, without taking much of your time, here are some of the most beautiful places that you have to go to while you are in Oman.
Wadi Bani Khalid
A wadi is a natural structure, a narrow ravine that allows water to flow from the mountains into the lowlands. In other words, it can be regarded as a life-giving oasis in densely arid regions. Oman has a lot of such wadis but Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the most stunning and picturesque of the lot. It is the epitome of beautiful wadis in Oman and should be on every traveler's list of places to visit in Oman.
There is a line of turquoise or emerald-hued pools in this area. Since the area has a downward slope, you'd also find frothy waterfalls running through gigantic boulders with caves opening up into the rock formations. Some of these caves are accessible by foot while you need to be able to swim to reach the others. The wadis are lined by a series of palm trees that provide shade to the striking waters keeping them cool and fresh. You can reach some of the more remote pools either by swimming or via hiking through the sands if you are looking to get away from the crowd that generally comes to this place, especially around weekends.
Oman has a notable tradition of Bedouin culture and you can feel that first hand as you traverse through the desert in and around the region. There are four desert regions within Oman with Rub Al Khali or the Empty Quarter being the most famous one- it is also one of the largest desert regions in the world. The Wahiba Sands, now known as The Sharqiya Sands is towards the inner-north region of Oman in Rub Al Khali and one of the best places to enjoy the emptiness and solitude that huge dunes bring about. It is about a 2-hour ride away from Muscat, the capital of Oman. You could spend a day here bashing through the sands and end it with watching how beautifully a gigantic red sun disappears among the golden dunes during sunset. Staying here overnight could be a memorable experience for you since the lack of population in the region ensures that you will get unobscured views of the stars followed by an equally amazing sunrise the next day.
Muscat is the capital city of the desert nation and the main point of entry for international travelers. Muscat, as a city is as beautiful as the dominating geographic features it has to offer with the Gulf of Oman on one side and the huge Al Hajar mountains on the other! Muscat has architecturally significant features to look out for in the form of excellent mosaics, intricate minarets, and carefully crafted wood-inlays. One of the best places to see such architectural marvels would be the largest mosque in Oman, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is the only mosque open to non-Muslims in this nation. Oman’s culture and tradition could also be easily enjoyed as you walk through the streets of Muscat, especially as you explore the marketplace in Muttrah Souq- shops are selling all kinds of wares such as henna, spices, exotic fish, and so on. There are many art galleries as well as museums that give you a vibrant introduction to the culture and tradition of Oman. You’d also be left awe-struck as you behold the architectural marvel of the Royal Opera House in Muscat. You should at least spend two days in the capital to get a good grasp of the immense beauty that this place holds.
While you are in Muscat, there is a terrific place that you have to go to. About 1.5 hours away from the capital is the Bimmah Sinkhole, also known as the Hawiyyat Najm among the Omanis. It is one of the most popular day trip options from the capital and you'd be missing out on a lot if you do not come here. The sinkhole was naturally created as the limestone eroded with time and tumbled down upon itself. There is a lake at the bottom with a depth of 300 m at the deepest point. The water here is fresh, cool, and crystal clear allowing you to enjoy some gala time.
A 4-hour drive away from Abu Dhabi will take you to one of the most wondrous landscapes in Oman- the Musandam Peninsula. It is also regarded as the Norway of Arabia and quite rightly named so because of the numerous fjords in the region that empty into the Omani coast and give the place an overall Nordic vibe. The most wholesome way to enjoy the pristine beauty of this place is to take a dhow cruise- be sure to keep some time so that you could swim through the fresh, cool, blue waters in the region. Especially in Khasab and Dibba beaches. The peninsular region is remote and also offers excellent opportunities for various adventure activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and watching dolphins. the Khasab Fortress is nearby, just off the coast, and you should make it a point to visit this place.
Nizwa is the second-largest city in Oman and about 2 hours away from Muscat on road. The city has a rich history in culture and tradition and used to be the capital of Oman in the 6th and 7th centuries. It was since that time that Nizwa had been a center for arts in the nation and was also an important point of Oman's trade route. Nizwa is located in the inland regions making the experience here much different from what you'll get in Muscat. The mountains separate it from Muscat and the coast and the region is more or less arid.
The main attraction in Nizwa has to be Nizwa Fort, built in the 17th century. It’s a humongous fort with towers, flat terraces, stairwells, and even hidden underground passageways. The center of the fort holds an impressive museum that you just have to look through. The nearby Nizwa Souq is the place to look for souvenirs to take home from your Oman tour. The nearby Jabreen Fort is also a terrific place to visit to look into the architectural superiority of the Omani people. Samail Fort falls on the way if you are traveling to Nizwa from Muscat and another wondrous man-made creation. Nizwa is also the perfect place if you are planning to explore the Al Hajar mountains.
Wadi Shab is about a 2.5-hour drive away from Muscat towards the Omani coast and one of the most spectacular places to visit in Oman. The location is more remote than Wadi Bani Khalid which makes the long ride worth it! You have to leave your vehicle in the Wadi Shab parking area wherefrom you have to take a short ride on a boat to enter the main swimming area in the region. You have to hike a bit along the canyon wall to reach the first swimming pool. From here on, you could either scramble along the rocks to go higher up or swim up through the pools.
A 2-hour drive from Nizwa into the Al Hajar mountains will take you to Jebel Akhdar, the green land among all the arid, barren desert land that Oman offers. Jebel Akhdar is also regarded as the Green Mountain and quite rightly named so since it allows cultivation because of the highly fertile soil in the region. The nearby Al Nakhur is in complete contrast to this beautiful picturesque place owing to its rocky outlook. Jebel Akhdar has terraced gardens and dense foliage of shrubs which makes it look like an emerald in a sea of desserts.
Jebel Akhdar is located on the Saiq Plateau and once was only accessible through a donkey ride. The roads have developed nowadays allowing you to take vehicles into the region. The region is lined by lemon, apricot, and pomegranate trees. There are also many hiking trails in the region allowing the adventurer in you to walk through amazing landscapes. The more you hike up the mountain, the more you will be taken to ancient and remote mud villages offering perfect panoramic views. While you are in this region, you have to travel through the Sumail Gap which marks the pass between the eastern and the western Al Hajar mountains.
Bald Sayt is one of the most mesmerizing and picturesque among the Omani villages. In fact, Bald Sayt is regarded as one of the most scenic villages in the Middle East. It falls under the shadow of the majestic Jebel Shams and is similar to Jebel Akhdar in taste and beauty. You will find beautifully terraced cultivation lands just like Jebel Akhdar over here featuring date palms, fruit trees, and so on.
This region too is very remote, cut-off from the rest of the dessert nation, and was once accessible only through donkey rides. Even today, this is quite cut off from the erst of Oman as you'd need an experienced 4x4 driver or an adventurer's spirit that allows you to hike into Bald Sayt.
Sur is a coastal port city, about 200 km away from Muscat, and features a laid-back lifestyle which could make it one of your favorite places in Oman. It is a visual delight thanks to the white lily houses, brick-colored reddish rock formations, and a backdrop of electrifying waters in the natural harbors. All of this makes it a beautiful, picture-perfect destination, not to miss as you are traveling through Oman. There isn't much to do in Sur but laze around and walk through the harbor. You could visit one of the dhow factories where these boats are crafted in the traditional method without using any glue or nails. You should climb up the nearby Al Ayjah Watch Tower which gets you a stunning view of the city. There are also many castles and mosques around the city that you can visit and marvel at the architectural brilliance. The Bilad Sur Castle is one of the most famous ones in the region.
A ferry ride from the Shannah Port, which is a 4–5-hour drive away from Sur will take you to Masirah Island. It is situated on the Arabian Sea and the largest island in the nation. This is a truly off-the-road destination in Oman which makes it even more alluring to tourists daring to take the journey. Masirah is remote, rugged, and has the most gorgeous sandy beaches in Oman. The current in this region, however, is very strong, and is known to toss boats which makes it a “dhow boat graveyard”. You will find dozens of tossed, wrecked dhow boats that lie along the shore which ensures the nickname that this place has garnered over the years. It is also proof of how tumultuous the waters in this region could be!
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve is located at the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula. It is a fishing village and the beaches are famed throughout the world as important nesting grounds for green turtles, an endangered species. The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve was developed in 1996 by the then Sultan of Oman to protect these turtles and for the promotion of ecotourism ventures in the region. You could reach this pristine location by taking one of the guided tours, regularly scheduled from the Centre at night. This is one of the few places where turtles are known to nest and lay eggs almost every day in a year. For the same reason, you could almost be certain that you will get to see female turtles laying eggs or hatchlings making a break for the waters!
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