Why did I travel to Oman? I read about Oman already 2 years ago. Back then, I got some vaccinations and in the doctor’s waiting room I saw photographs of a desert. Later, the doctor told me he took the photographs at Wahiba Sands in Oman. I started to gather more information about Oman, and this year I put this beautiful country on my list. My friend Sven and I traveled for 8 days in Oman and I can assure you it was definitely one of the greatest experience in nearly 5 years of my world travels.
Muscat and Surroundings
I will write down some places you might want to visit. In Muscat, I was surprised how calm the capital is. There, you can visit the old Souq in the historical part of the city (Mutrah), the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, the royal opera and the Bait al Zubair museum. By the way, the Sultan Qaboos Mosque was built out of a hundred thousand tons of Indian sandstone and is quite an impressive monument.
One thing which is very important to mention is that Oman has very high-quality tourism. Which means they don’t provide hostels (I didn’t find any) or public transport. So it’s luxury travel or nothing, hence renting your own car is necessary to get around. Or hitchhiking if you are more of an adventurous traveler.
I enjoyed walking in the evening along the corniche in Mutrah while watching the locals relaxing. This was my favourite part of Muscat. Don’t hesitate to indulge yourself with incredibly delicious Arab cuisine like hummus and lamb dishes.
Close to Muscat, you might want to visit Rustaq Fort and the Nakhal Fort (closed when we visited). Both forts are huge and when I went there in May, there was no one there. You will feel great exploring the forts for yourself. I promise!
Nizwa, Bahla and Jabreen
The north and east of Oman are not difficult to travel. We rented a 4×4 car and drove around without any difficulties. The roads are in perfect conditions and Omanis are very calm drivers. The best is that the country is sparsely populated and often you can have the roads all to yourself.
Nizwa was the former capital and has a small Souq where you can wander around for a few hours. It’s definitely worth a visit. Since its restoration, it has a museum and lots of information to read. Even though it was the most visited fort during our trip in Oman, there were only a handful of people with us.
Not far away from Nizwa, at the foot of Jebel Akhdar highlands there is the country’s only Unesco-listed fort called Bahla Fort. The fort is massive but there are no exhibits, so do some research online before your visit.
Jabreen Castle/Fort is my favourite one in Oman. It’s not only beautifully restored, but it also gives you a very good insight of old life in Oman. At the entrance, you can get an audio guide.
There are two very beautiful villages with the name Al Hamra and Al Misfat which provides every visitor a great insight into former life of Omanis when they lived in loam houses.
One of the most beautiful places in Oman is Jebel Shams – the highest mountain of the country, and even the third highest on the Arabian Peninsula. Once you are there, don’t miss the chance to stay at the Anantara al Jabal al Akhdar Resort. It is the best resort I have ever stayed at in my life. Even Lady Di was once in this area, so one of the points there is called Diana Point.
Sharqiya Sands or better known as Wahiba Sands is my personal highlight of Oman. I do love mountains, oceans and deserts. It was my fourth time in a desert and I was totally in love with Wahiba Sands the moment we entered it with the four wheel drive vehicle.
Nothing really beats a camel ride into the sunset over dunes that are five stories high. Or dune bashing with the 4×4. And definitely my favourite activity in the desert: Sandboarding. And at night, you can enjoy a great feast at the Night Desert Camp (they even have perfect internet connection in the desert).
Wadi Bani Khalid
We visited Wadi Bani Khalid in one day and had a beautiful landscape through a series of tiny villages and the rocky mountains.
From the car park it’s only a five-minute walk to the pools.
Wadi Bani Khalid has a few bridges, seating areas and even a restaurant, but it doesn’t detract from its beauty.
There are several pools and the first pool is the largest. The pools are full of fish that will give you a foot massage. Which is very pleasant if you are already used by it once you have been to Thailand.
Hospitality and Friendliness
My impressions of Oman were just beautifully breathtaking in every single way. This almost unknown country is like balm for my soul after crazy and noisy Egypt. I totally fell in love with Oman the moment I entered and I was really sad to leave it.
This is the first country where they didn’t stamp without regard in my passport. I don’t have many pages left and unfortunately my passport still lasts for four more years. Therefore I dislike it when the officials at the immigration are stamping my passport carelessly.
It’s so incredibly calm and tranquil to such a level you would never expect! The Omanis are more than friendly and very much at peace with themselves. And I seriously felt it with every Omani I have met.
To be honest, Oman is not a cheap country and their currency is stronger than the Euro. The country has almost non-existent crime and they don’t levy taxes on the incomes. Due to that fact, it is not a big surprise that at least 30% of the population are expats.
Before they were ruled by the Portuguese, but don’t expect them to speak the language. But most people (especially in Muscat) speak English quite well.
Unfortunately, women are required to stay at home and outside of Muscat you will hardly see women in the public.
Also if you are a bird lover, you might find yourself surrounded by many different species of birds in Oman. Who would have thought it?
Their hospitality is beyond my imagination. For example, one day I picked up my laundry and met a diplomat who immediately invited us to his house. He shared some drinks, self-written poems and shared in a genuine way his life story with us. We were so touched that Sven had tears welling up. Thank you again, Ahmad!
Return? – Definitely Yes!
I can’t recommend you enough to visit Oman. It was definitely one of the best travel decisions I made this year and you really need to visit the country in order to understand my enthusiasm for it.
Also, I can’t wait to come back one day to Oman and immerse myself more in the Omani culture and its incredible hospitality. There you will find hope for humanity again!
Also I was featured in the Oman Observer by Liju Cherian.
Read more here : https://www.omanobserver.om/balm-for-the-soul/
Thank you very much for the feature and the interview!