We are delighted to have recently added Oman to our selection of tailor-made tours. Oman is the destination everyone is talking about, and with so much to offer; abundant culture, spectacular landscapes, fascinating cities and a stunning coastline, it is easy to see why. Middle East expert, Bjorn, tells us why now is the time to visit.
The Middle East is often associated with the glitz and glamour of Dubai or Abu Dhabi, with its highly developed tourism industry, skyscraper dominated cities and megalith shopping malls. Oman, however, has remained something of a hidden gem in the Middle East and is the perfect destination to escape the masses and get off the beaten track not far from home. The tourism industry is still in its infant stage and as it stands, government policy is not to develop anything too quickly. What’s more, the country’s ancient history, rich cultural heritage and wide variety of landscapes, makes it a great place for both nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. For me, Oman offers the chance to experience an authentic Arabia, where Bedouin values are still honoured and traditional towns retain their cultural charm, with not a skyscraper in sight! Oman is also one of the safest countries in the world to visit, making it great for families and couples alike.
Whilst Wahiba Sands and Oman’s stretch of the Empty Quarter form part of its desert landscape, Oman is also home to highest mountains on the Arabian Peninsula. In addition, its peppered with canyons, fjords, wadis and stunning beaches, all of which have historic sites within them. Head south to the province of Dhofar for its fruit plantations and visit the coastal spot of Salalah for some serious beach relaxation.
Oman’s diverse terrain is home to a variety of wildlife, as well as providing a natural framework within which to enjoy a whole range of adventure fuelled activities. Head to the Hajar Mountains for fantastic trekking, cycling and climbing, as well as caving and canyoning. For camping out under the desert sky, I’d recommend a trip to the golden dunes of Wahiba Sands, around a three-hour drive from Oman’s capital, Muscat, where you can get stuck in with dune-bashing or make the most of the clear night sky and brilliant stargazing on offer there.
For ancient souks and historic forts, I’d recommend a wander around Nizwa, or a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque or Muttrah Souq in Muscat. The beaches around Muscat are great for relaxation and I’d suggest taking a boat trip into the Gulf of Oman, where you can see dolphins, turtles, humpback and blue whales. Just south of the city, there are turtle nesting sites to visit, while off-shore the coral rich waters are great for scuba diving.
For the beach lover or to round off your trip to Oman, I would suggest a visit to Salalah. The climate here is tropical, the palm-fringed beaches are stunning and you can often see pods of dolphin from the shoreline. Apart from the beaches, you can also head out and explore ancient ports that once connected the Middle East to Africa and Asia, find the best frankincense in the world, or even head out to the unexplored Empty Quarter to really get away from it all.
With easy access from the UK, Oman should be on your next holiday list and I promise it will not disappoint!