Oman at a Glance
Oman is a country where dramatic mountain ranges, vast deserts, winding wadis and pristine coastline combine to create fierce, monumental scenery. This spectacular sultanate is a natural playground for adventure seekers, adrenaline junkies, wildlife lovers and history enthusiasts.
Here is just a taster of the inspiring and otherworldly wonders of Oman where you can experience local Omani culture, fascinating history, ancient traditions and dramatic landscapes…
The capital, Muscat – past and present
Located at the foot of the Hajar Mountains, Muscat is characterised by low-standing white and sand-colored houses of a typical oriental-Arabesque style. The skyline is dotted with the minarets and domes of the city’s mosques.
Stroll along the Muttrah Corniche and shop for traditional clothes, jewellery, spices, antiques and hand-woven Bedouin carpets in the souk. Enter into the huge main prayer hall of the breathtaking Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. In the old Muscat area, view the beautiful exterior of Al Alam Royal Palace and the imposing Jalali and Mirani forts. Museum lovers can explore the Natural History Museum and discover the ethnographic museum in the home of Bait al Zubair.
The desert – vast, wind-blown and unexplored
Seventy per cent of Oman is desert and offers endless opportunities for glamping, barbecues under the stars, camel rides, quad biking and meeting hospitable Bedouins. A vast area of Oman (and also Saudi Arabi and Yemen) is covered by Rub’ al Khali, the largest expanse of sand in the world, also known as the ‘Empty Quarter’. It is accessible from the city of Salalah.
In the heart of Oman and just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Muscat or Sur, lies the vast Sharqiya Desert – also known as Wahiba Sands, named after the local tribe. Throughout the day, the dunes change colour from white to yellow to red. The sight of golden dunes descending into the Arabian Sea is truly spectacular.
The mountains – valleys, canyons and cliffs
4WD tours, climbing, hiking and caving are just some of the adventures to be had in Oman’s dramatic mountains. The north of Oman is dominated by the mighty Hajar Mountains including Jebel Shams, the highest mountain at just over 3,000 metres.
The smaller, but no less impressive, Jebel Akhbar is famed for its maze-like series of wadis and cliff-perched terraced orchards. Nestled among the mountains are ancient villages such as Al Hamra with its narrow alleyways of mud-brick houses and intricately carved wooden doors.
The Dhofar Mountains are home to the extremely rare Arabian Leopard as well as the Arabian gazelle and the Nubian ibex. The Musandam Peninsula is known for its Arabian fjords where soaring sea cliffs plunge into the sea.
The wadis – wet, wild and wonderful
Wadis – picturesque valleys formed by flowing streams and featuring lush oases and natural jade green pools are the perfect locations for hiking, scenic drives and bird watching.
Wadi Bani Khalid, located between the desert and the coast, is impeccably beautiful. Hike through the valley to pools of emerald green water and rustic villages. At Wadi Shab, fresh water flowing from the mountains merges with the saltwater of the sea. Here you can walk along limestone ravines and swim to a waterfall in a cave. The untouched Wadi Al Arbaeen is formed by a huge ravine on the eastern side of Mount Hajar and features lots of rock-crawling and water crossings. The impressive Wadi Hawer boasts running waterfalls, vibrant blue freshwater pools and stunning rock features. One of Oman’s greatest off-road drives is Wadi Bani Auf which passes through Snake Canyon and various villages.
The coast – dolphins, dhows and diving
From the tropical beaches of Salalah to the sandy coast of Muscat to the spectacular fjords of Musandam, Oman’s coast offers snorkelling, diving, kayaking and dolphin spotting.
The historic town of Sur is known for its traditional boats called dhows. Not far from Sur you will find Ras Al Hadd, where the Oman Sea meets the Arabian Sea; and Ras Al Jinz, famous as a breeding site for rare green turtles.
Dhofar’s coastal landscape features freshwater springs and striking lagoons known as khawrs, home to a huge range of birds including flamingos. Take a boat trip that combines dolphin watching, diving and fishing. Salalah in the south is most popular during its khareef season – the monsoon from June to September – when the whole area turns green.
Visit Oman …
Our client, award-winning Zahara Tours Oman, has been offering diverse experiences throughout Oman for over 50 years. This well-established and highly experienced DMC specialises in creating innovative and unique experiences to showcase this beautiful country. Contact us for more information …