Guide Name: Shawqi Gharib
Phone: +968 96188396
Muscat – Nizwa – Sur
An easy 6 hours plane ride away from London and Bangkok, it made Oman a great choice for a short visit. We started the by going to Nizwa, an ancient capital about 3 hours drive from Muscat. Since it was Friday, we had to rush the sightseeing of the fort and killed time by walking through the souk (market). Most places are closed from 11am onwards for prayer.
We decided to forego visiting other forts and historical sights and head straight to Oman’s very own grand canyon. Jebel Shams is also Oman’s highest peak at 3009m. The spectacular view comes at a price though. If you don’t have a 4×4, you won’t be able to drive pass the checkpoint at the bottom of the mountain. So beware when renting. The roads in Oman are very good but its a mountainous country with the hills being steep and requires both driver skills and the car power.
Another city worth mentioning, of course, is Muscat. The coastal capital is bustling with life. The first destination to visit in the city is the Grand Mosque – its the epitome of contemporary Arabic architecture. Afterwards we drove around and stop at various viewpoints to take photos. You can also visit the famous hotels for both its view and grandeur. Lunch was at D’Arcy’s Kitchen which I highly recommend. They bake awesome cakes! For dinner we made a quick stop at Slider Station for burgers and shakes before heading back to the airport.
For hotels, we stayed at Sahab hotel in the mountain and Ibis in Muscat. Next week I’ll blog more about my adventure hiking and swimming in the oasis and canyon. Also, the day in the desert!
Wadi Bani Khalid – Wahiba sands – Wadi Shab
So now for the fun/adventurous part of our trip to Oman. Although it was a short trip, its definitely not short of actions. On the way to Wahiba sands – a desert – we stopped by Wadi Bani Khalid for a swim in the oasis.
The emerald pool is just a short walk away from the car park and there’s changing room/toilet facility near an open air buffet restaurant. Beware the toilets here are unclean and there’s no shower. But who needs a shower when the fresh water is sparkling clean. Like you can see your feet when your walking in it clean. Anyway, so I bid farewell to my family (for awhile) and started the 15 minutes walk inside into the inner part of the oasis with its even cleaner and turquoise water. I suggest you take aqua shoes so the rocks won’t destroy your feet. There’s quite a bit of walking on rocks and getting in and out of the water. I love Wadi Bani Khalid though. 100% my favorite destination in Oman.
After I have thoroughly enjoyed the blue pools and soaked in the sun, we head to the desert in time to play around on the sand dunes before sunset. For accommodations, we opted for the Luxury Desert Night Camp. Its probably one of the best if not the best camp in the area. All meals, 4×4 up the sand dune + drinks at sunset, and a morning camel ride were included. I actually thought it was a very good price, especially, since it was their high season. In case you love stars, this camp is not for you. There’s plenty of light pollution. Go to the cheapest camp possible and bring your sleeping bag to sleep out under the stars!
Our last fun stop was at Wadi Shab. At first we were going to skip this one entirely because of its rocky canyon terrain and distance. It took us (meaning me alone with the guide) around an hour each way from car park to the start of the swim. The swimming part was easy until we reached the cave where there’s barely any place to cling to. Unless you’re a strong swimmer, bring a safety vest. Its around 45 mins in the water with all the chilling. There’s opportunities for people to cliff jump as well. Again…bring your aqua shoes!