With an enormous diversity of natural beauty it is hard not to believe why ‘Lonely Planet’ has named Muscat the second best city in the world for 2012. Here are 10 places you should definitely visit when you are in Oman.
1. Mutrah Souk
Also known as the heart of Muscat, Mutrah Souk is best known for being the most interesting Souk in the Arab Gulf states. It features a perfect blend of the ancient and the modern, offering a choice to shoppers. Feast your eyes on the silverware, antiques, frankincense garments, toys, spices, gold etc. on display. Best of all, you can bargain the cost of these items. Over the years this beautiful dock facing market (souk) has been the major destination of tourist attraction.
2. Nizwa Fort
The Nizwa Fort stands as one of the Sultanate’s finest historical edifices. This unique, large earth-filled circular tower of Nizwa is built by Imam Sultan bin Saif al Yaarubi in 1668 AD. It mirrors the military engineering prowess of fort-builders of the olden times. The fort is a reminder of the town’s significance through turbulent periods in Oman’s long history. It is Oman’s most visited national monument.
3. Nakhal Fort
Nakhal Fort is a large fort in the Middle East in the Al Batinah Region of the Sultanate of Oman. The 17th Century Nakhal Fort in Oman, is situated on a rocky site in the foothills of the Western Hajar. This fortress commands a fantastic 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside. Nakhal is famous for its mineral-laden hot springs flowing year round from the clefts in the mountain rock right around the fortress.
4. Ras Al Hadd
This area is located in the Wilayat of Sur in the Sharqiya region. It is considered the last point in the East of Oman and is located in the conjunction between Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. It is the migration destination of around 6,000-13,000 turtles who make their annual journey here, from the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and the East African Coast. This area attracts the largest number of mating turtles in Oman. A visit to Oman will not be complete without a visit to Ras Al Haad’s Turtle Reserve. Known as “Green Turtle Habitat”.
5. Wadi Shab
The Wadi Shab is a must-see place to visit in Oman. ‘Wadi’ means ‘dry river bed’. This gully remains dry except during the rainy season where water quickly fills it up. If you’re thinking of driving in the wadis (wadi bashing), it is best to check first, for any developing thunderstorms before engaging in this activity. This is a good safety precaution to avoid the dangers of flash floods.
The Wadi Shab is located just between the capital Muscat and the town of Sur and lies exactly in Niyabat, Tiwi, wilayat (province) of Sur. What’s fascinating about this wadi is that, it merges the scenic appeal of the coastal areas with that of the inland wonders. It is interesting to note that you can find at least seven pools of emerald green water surrounded by marvelous boulders, here. Of these pools, one of it is actually found inside a cave where light beautifully streams in from above. Get fascinated with the sound of echoes as you swim in this pool.
One of the things that people remember most about Salalah, the second largest town in the Sultanate of Oman, is its temperate climate. While the rest of Arabia experiences sweltering temperatures of up to 50°, Salalah averages 25°C in the locally known Khareef season (from late June to early September). During this season, tourists flock to Salalah to enjoy its outstanding beauty and refreshing climate. Frankincense trees grow and flourish with this climate.
The use of frankincense is prevalent in Oman. It is used not only for its fragrant qualities but also for its therapeutic properties like its calming effect on the nervous system. The resin on the other hand, can be used as a medicine to cure toothaches and indigestion.
The ‘Blow holes’ and the ‘Anti Gravity Point’, are the frequently visited spots in Salalah. It is definitely worth the experience.
7. Wadi Bani Awf
The Wadi Bani Awf is found in Al Rostaq wilayat, just behind the intimidating façade of the Al Jabal al Akhdar mountains. This ancient wadi offers breathtaking vistas along its 26-kilometer trail. Mountain streams and pools plus green fields also spectacularly beset this valley making it an ideal place for 4WD drives, trekking or canyoning. As you set out to the Wadi Bani Awf, you’ll have the chance to explore side canyons like the famous Snake Canyon/ Snake Gorge with it cool springs, splashing streams and sharp rock faces. A perfect spot for spelunkers ,climbers and divers.
8. Wahiba Sands
The Wahiba Sands is a vast desert of rolling sand dunes with colors varying from deep red to rich honey and stretching as far as the eye can see. These dunes are home to traditional Bedouins who can endure the harsh desert conditions. It also plays host to a diverse type of flora and fauna.
Local tour guides for a more fun-filled and safe experience would take you out on a fantastic dune driving and allow you to visit or perhaps enjoy a hearty lunch with a Bedouin family who can give you an insight on their lifestyle… It’s a wild experience to cruise your way into the never ending Arabian Sands.
9. Jabrin Castle
Jabrin Castle is truly one remarkable sight. This magnificent palace is located near the mountains of Jabal Akdhar or the Green mountains. The mountain is famous for rose cultivation and production of pure rose water. Situated in such a picturesque landscape, this castle was built in 1675 by Sultan Bila’rab bin Sultan al-Yaarubi as a summer residence. This magnificent castle is known for its artistry and majestic look.Some of the notable attractions of this castle include painted ceilings and inscriptions of The Holy Qur’an verses on the walls and ceilings.Jabrin Castle has been restored to its full glory to keep its historical and artistic values.
10. Jebel Shams
Jebel Shams, also known as, ‘Mountain of the Sun’ in Arabic is 9000 feet above the sea level. Located 280 km from Muscat, Jebel Shams is the highest mountain of the Al Hajar mountain range. The mercury here dips to zero in winter and sometimes is followed with snowfall. Even the summers are pleasant with an average temperature of 25 degrees.This climatic condition attracts the tourist for camping and trekking. Other than the climatic conditions, the major attraction of this place is the Canyon. The canyon at Jebel Shams is said to be the second biggest after the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
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