Food and travel enthusiast Akanksha Dean has a list of seven experiences to bookmark in the sultanate of Oman
Situated on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman boasts an opulent gastronomic ethos and a captivating history, which is why the sultanate has been popping up on quite a few hottest travel destination lists in recent times.
Here are seven experiences in the Sultanate of Oman that should be on your travel itinerary…
Go Dune Bashing At Wahiba Sands
Wahiba Sands in the Arabian desert is characterised by tall and prominent sand dunes, which make dune bashing a must-try. Located in the southern part of the Western Hajar mountain range, these picturesque sands (also main image) are just a two-hour drive from the capital city of Muscat. You will make your way up in a 4x4 Jeep Wrangler – the guides manoeuvre up these dunes effortlessly – in a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As an adventure, dune bashing is extremely safe, and all the cars are well equipped with safety gear. The key to good dune bashing is in maintaining varying speeds and ensuring that the SUV tires are flattened out before driving; low tire pressure enables a smoother climb.
Take A Dip In The Bimmah Sinkhole
A visit to this naturally-occurring water body is a must-do on your itinerary when visiting Oman. Situated right off the main highway that connects Muscat to Sur, this sinkhole is easily accessible. The blue turquoise waters are perfect for a cool dip in the summertime. The locals believe that this water marvel is the result of a big meteorite striking down at this very same spot, thus the name Hawaiyat Najm – falling star in Arabic – is also used to describe it. One can access the sinkhole by walking down steps. It is well guarded by a stone wall, making it safe for tourists visiting it. The surrounding area also features the Hawaiyat Najm Park and a kid’s playground, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
Visit The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
This magnificent turtle reserve is one of the biggest nesting grounds for five major turtle species, the prominent one being the rare green sea turtle. Each year, the Arabian headland is visited by a massive number of sea turtles who end up laying millions of eggs along the Omani coastline. This particular reserve is actively invested in keeping these beautiful animals alive and well treated in their natural habitat. Although the turtles are visible all year round, the best time to visit the reserve is between July and September, which is considered peak season. Opt for the night tour here to witness the massive turtles laying eggs near the shore. You have to be extremely quiet on the tour in order to not stress the mama turtle out as she lays anywhere between 80 to 120 eggs. It can take up to 15 minutes for her to finish this task and she is terribly exhausted by the end of it. The reserve also has a turtle museum, built to educate visitors about these species.
Marvel At The Sur Maritime Museum
Founded in 1987 as an ode to Oman’s rich seafaring legacy, this important visitor destination is located in the heart of Sur. It cocoons fascinating displays that bring the past alive. The cherished emblem of the Wilaya ‘Al Ghanja Ship’ can be viewed at the main entrance. The museum highlights the significance of maritime navigation that has been passed on from generation to generation among the people. The museum also displays various kinds of maritime tools and traditional dhow ships and details their evolution over the centuries and with the advent of technology. It also showcases the development of the city of Sur.
Be Awed At The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Showcasing modern Islamic design, this majestic mosque in Muscat is a treat to the eyes. It is a spectacular contribution commissioned by Sultan Qaboos to acknowledge his 30th year of sovereignty. The key prayer room is nothing short of breath-taking. Its attractive Persian carpet, which measures a whopping 70 metres by 60 metres, is one of the largest artisanal carpets in the entire world; it took a team of 600 women weavers four years to make this massive floor covering. The opulent mosque can accommodate around 20,000 worshippers at a time. A separate prayer hall for women – a musalla – can house about 750 women. Dress appropriately when visiting; the gift shop rents abayas and scarves if you need them.
Celebrate Nature At Wadi Bani Khalid
A striking oasis of freshwater pools and caves surrounding the gorge area, Wadi Bani Khalid is undoubtedly a cool place at which to beat the Omani heat. Here you can take a dip in the water or go hiking through the canyon to make it to the Muqal Cave. Unlike other wadis (valleys) in the region, this one is easier to navigate. Entry is free. This is where clear water meets the mountains, and nature is at its best. One can also experience the falaj (Oman’s irrigation system), which keeps the stunning wadi thriving.
Go Green At Jebel Akhdar
Jebel Akhdar – green mountain in Arabic – is a part of the Al Hajar mountain range. A two-hour drive from the capital city of Muscat, it makes for an excellent spot to discover pomegranate and walnut farms as well as concealed wadis. Here you can also explore ancient villages such as Wadi Bani Habib, a deserted settlement made entirely of mud. This region is famous for its rosewater and you will notice a heavy use of it in perfumes, beverages and even desserts out here. The best period to visit Jebel Akhdar is in the months of March and April, when the temperatures are relatively cooler.
Main image: Shutterstock
Disclaimer: All views are the author’s own. Healthntrends cannot be held liable for any mishap arising thereof
Also Read: Beyond The Water Villas: Sink Into Nature In The Maldives