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Why Oman should be on your travel wish list

It’s hard not to get lost in the noise that hums around a certain region. In the Arabian Gulf, that noise often exudes from certain cosmopolitan cities with attractions such building the world’s tallest buildings, malls with indoor ski slopes, and where architecture takes on forms that only the most creative can imagine.

Oman travel valley

Oman – Beauty has an address

But if you look further south, you’ll find a country on the peninsula that rejects the over the top construction and has its soul firmly planted in tradition. Oman is a place that while being very much in the present, feels almost lost in time in certain aspects. It’s a fairy tale of a far-away land that retains its charms and culture.

During a recent Adventures Abroad trip across the several Gulf States, it was hard not to notice the difference of each country. After departing oil-rich capitals that hold enormous amounts of glitz and glamour, we ended the journey through the multitude of landscapes that make every inch of Oman scenic.

Starting in the Musandam Peninsula, a northern enclave on Oman with barren cliffs falling into crystal blue waters in what appears to look like fjords, we took a peaceful dhow ride. Seated on cushions and drinking tea, we plied the calm waters in search of dolphins, whales, and seabirds. Happily, we encountered many.

Tours of Oman Muscat to Salalah coastal drive

The drive along the coast of Oman from Muscat to Salalah is very much worthwhile.

Surrounding the sea, were small coastal fishing villages and mountains that soared 2200ft into the air. A jeep ride to the top of the nearby 6250ft mountains later on would reveal just how steep the mountainsides were. How people have lived in the harsh conditions found in the mountains was a wonder, but in those acacia forests and dry river beds, it was easy to understand some of the appeals. It was as peaceful as it was beautiful, and a welcome escape from the heat found at sea level.

Muscat old town Al Jalali fort Al Mirani fort

Muscat old town with the Al Jalali fort and Al Mirani fort in the background.

Muscat: old world charm

While the capital city of Muscat entices with its historic architecture in the old city and the grandiose details found at the Sultan Qaboos Great Mosque, the charms of Oman lay in the outer villages. In places like Nizwa that gather weekly for a cattle market. Everything from honey to goats are sold off to the highest bidder in a high energy get together with locals dressed in traditional styles. Ruined forts can be spied at beautiful vantage points, overlooking the sea and mountains that dominate the surrounding landscape.

Oman tours Nizwa market

In the interior, a night searching the stars after watching the sunset across the golden expanse of sand in the Wahiba desert is a must. As is the thrilling 4×4 ride across skeleton mountain chain of Jebel Sham, or mountain of the sun. History is everywhere in this country, from the donkey trails of Bedouin farmers to the Frankincense trail in Salalah.

Oman Wahiba desert woman

Oman is the country so comfortable with itself that it has forgone the desire to reshape itself to be a modern megacity. It’s the place where a cup of tea and a date bring meaningful conversation, and that every moment spent in the countryside will leave you breathless from its landscape. It’s a place that should be seen.


 Photo credits: Rachel Kristensen

Learn more about our 19 day Gulf States Tour, as well as our other tours of the Middle East.

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