2 weeks in Oman - Our experience

Reply

Oct 24th, 2013, 11:46 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 89
2 weeks in Oman - Our experience

Oman is special. Where else on the Arabic Peninsula has some of the “Sinbad the Sailor” feeling survived? Besides this 1001 Nights flair, we were stunned by lush oases, ancient fortresses, sandy beaches, dramatic mountain scenery, rolling desert dunes, picturesque wadis, deep fjords and overly friendly people. All in one country!

Our itinerary?
We spent 2 weeks in Oman over X-mas 2012 & New Year 2013. Our itinerary covered Muscat (the capital), Jebel Shams & Jebel Akhdar (the mountains), Nizwa (oases, fortresses and more), the Wahiba Sands (desert), Ras Al Jinz (turtles) & last but not least Musandam (the lonely peninsula on the Strait of Hormuz). This is roughly the route we covered, with many more places in between.
More information: http://www.oneyearoff.net/countries-...-oman-summary/

Why Oman?
Honestly, when we booked the flight to Muscat, we had no real idea what to expect… Only when we started reading travel blogs in more detail, did we find out that the 2 weeks we had would never be enough to visit all major attractions. The south with its abundance of incense trees around Salalah, we had to save for another trip.

Some unusual politics?
Oman is not only the oldest independent state in the Arab world, but also one of the more traditional countries in the Gulf region and was, until the beginning of the 1970s, one of the most isolated. In its heydays it stretched out along the East African coast and included paradise-like Zanzibar.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said is omnipresent in Oman. His portrait seems to adorn every room, public or private. So do billboards along the perfect roads built under his ruler ship. The respect and admiration he receives from his citizens is equally ever-present. Not surprising considering what he has achieved! Educated in Britain, he overthrew his overly conservative father in 1970. More or less single-handedly he then moved this country from the Middle Age to the 21st Century, turning it into a prosperous, modern state.
A transformation so deep, but nevertheless so smooth that it makes Oman stand out. The result is a unique, peaceful place in an otherwise not so stable region of this world. Maybe it helped that his subjects are only a flock of 2 millions and there is plenty of oil, although in modest quantities compared to its neighbors.
Just to give you an idea where he started off: in 1970 Oman had merely 3 kilometers of tarred road, one hospital with 12 beds, no schools. Sultan Qaboos’ father was so conservative that wearing sunglasses or playing music was forbidden. All this changed under Qaboos’ rule, but he made sure to balance the move forward with a healthy conservation of Oman’s cultural heritage. Today modern cities, excellent roads, state of the art telecommunication, excellent schools and universities (for men and women) equal western European standards. Nevertheless, none of the skyscrapers that dominate Dubai or Abu Dhabi can be found here, only elegant oriental architecture prevails.

Budget?
Oman is an expensive destination, no matter how you travel and how hard you try to save money.
First, there is no real public transport system, so you have to rely on a car. Although car rentals are cheap and gasoline costs close to nothing, this remains a major part of the budget. What really hurt are the prices for hotels though. Even a modest guesthouse runs between 80 to 100 €. We met people who camped, but not many.
We spent altogether 2.000 € in two weeks per person, which brings expenses to 134 Euros per person per day. If you add the flights from Europe, it means 200€ per person per day. And no, we did not splurge!

Sedan Car or 4WD?
Roads are excellent, so we could have covered everything in a sedan car, except crossing the Hajer Mountains, going to Jebel Shams, which was a highlight. Even Wahiba Sands, the desert, is do-able in a small car, since most agencies offer a pick up from the nearest town for a small fee.

Oman for outdoor people?
Those who like sleeping in tents may also have an amazing time in Oman. Camping is possible on lonely beaches (fishermen shuttle you back and forth), in the mountains, in the desert and probably everywhere else. But be aware! Nights are chilly at this time of the year, especially in the mountains, where we watched the wind fiercely beating the few bushes from our cozy hotel room. But the intrepid camper may find this heavenly.
Also hikers can live up to their passion: countless trails, short and long (up to 8 days) take you through the spectacular scenery of the Hajer Mountains.

When thinking about Oman, the following aspects will always stay on our minds
• Gentle, friendly and open-minded people - the Omani are really special
• Huge contrasts: within a few kilometers, you move from the most modern 21st century city to a village that could be in the Middle Ages
• A stunning capacity to embrace technological changes and to safeguard traditions - how many times did we wonder at young men dressed in the traditional Dishdasha, surfing on their iPhones.
• Indian food, which seemed to be the base of our diet during 2 weeks

The highlights of the trip were
• The Omani people
• Small town Khasab on the peninsula of Musandam - guarding the Strait of Hormuz
• A few days in the Wahiba Desert
• Driving into the heart of the Hajer Mountains on a windy dirt road, that reminded us tremendously of Bolivian “Death Road”
• Hiking Wadi Ghul - Oman’s Grand Canyon
• Gazing at the 5.000 year old tombs of Al Ayn - just us
• Fortress hopping - and we only visited 8 from the nearly 500…
• The haggling at Nizwa’s goat market on Fridays, at least very early morning, before busloads of tourists arrive
• Meeting Khalfan in his very personal museum in Al Kamil
• Egg-laying turtles at Ras Al Jinz
• Walking through the tranquil gardens of a tiny oasis on the fringes of Wahiba Desert

What would we do differently?
• Slightly change the itinerary: fly into Dubai (instead of Muscat), take a taxi (2,5 hours) to Khasab on Musandam and the ferry (5 hours) to Muscat. Then start the loop there and finally fly from Muscat back to Europe, probably via Dubai.
• Skip Scuba diving - visibility was really disappointing
• Spend more time in the Hajer Mountains, Jebel Shams and trekking along Wadi Ghul - And trek Wadi Ghul in the afternoon
• Head south to Salalah - with the time saved on the changed itinerary and scuba diving, it could fit in a two week trip - although the perfect time to visit this region is supposedly September

Conclusion
Oman is the perfect (family) destination for a two to three week trip escaping the European winter. The country is really easy to travel, offers a huge variety of highlights and some of the most gentle people on this planet, but is expensive!
OneYearOff is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 25th, 2013, 03:05 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,138
Thanks for the pointers, Oman is on my list of places I'd like to visit.
Femi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 22nd, 2014, 01:43 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Perfect trip report. Exactly what I need for the trip we are planning. We hope to go in November. Our plan is to fly to Dubai (from Belgium), stay 2 nights, drive to Musandam for another 2 nights, then drive to Muscat to make roughly the same tour as you did, adding a few days in Salalah (fly from Muscat), then back from Salalah to Belgium.

I would very much appreciate if you could answer some of my questions. Thanks beforehand!
Did you organize your trip yourself or did you book through a travel agent? How easy is it to drive yourself and to find places? I heard that the GPS that come with the cars aren't always up-to-date.
Did you take a guide to take you to the desert camp or did you drive there yourself?
Any other information is welcome, of course!
MyriamC is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 22nd, 2014, 05:22 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
PS Your photos are amazing. I wish we could leave tomorrow ...
MyriamC is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 23rd, 2014, 11:15 AM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 89
Thank you Myriam!
I organized everything myself. It is extremely easy to organize, people are very responsive and reliable. You don't need a Travel Agency.
I would not drive from Musandam to Muscat but take the ferry or fly. You will save a lot of time!
Driving is really easy and we (almost) never had a problem finding places. The only challenging trip way through Jebel Shams, but when we thought we were lost we asked locals who helped us. We did not have a GPS and in the beginning, orientation in Muscat is a bit challenging but nothing really difficult. A GPS is surely a nice comfort.
To the desert camp, the company organized a meeting point outside of the desert, and we drove all together to the camp. Very easy.
Cheers
Gilles
PS: do not hesitate if you have any other question
OneYearOff is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 24th, 2014, 07:58 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Thank you Gilles! Very useful.
I have been going through your other trip reports. Great reading!
MyriamC is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2014, 06:46 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 2
great tips!

A couple of questions:
1) what kind of cheaper accomodation options are available? i mean some guest houses or private flats especially in smaller villages?

2) if we hire a normal car how do we cross the Hajer Mountains, going to Jebel Shams as you described in your itinerary?

thanks
issidingo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 12:04 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 89
Hi,
1) I am not really aware of cheaper accommodations. We were in Guesthouses mostly. There are no cheap accommodations like hostels. Renting flats I don't know. Oman is orientated towards high end tourism
2) Crossing the Hajer Mountains / Jebel Shams is the only moment where you really need a 4WD. The rest can be done by normal car. But for this, no way you can go with a normal car.

Cheers
Gilles
OneYearOff is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 04:36 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Hi Gilles,
We have booked our trip in the meantime. Will leave 24th November and back home 13th December.

3 nights Dubai (flying to Dubai was more economical than flying to Muscat)
overland to Khasab, stay 2 nights - booked a dhow cruise
fly to Muscat, stay 3 nights - sightseeing and enjoying the Shangri-La resort
pick-up a 4WD and drive Nakhl, Wadi Bani Awf, Nia
MyriamC is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 04:44 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Oops ... hit the wrong key

pick up a 4WD and drive Nakhl, Wadi Bani Awf, Nizwa, Jebel Shams – Al Hamra – Misfah Al Abreen - Bahla/Jabrin – Bat/Amla - Sinaw – Ibra – Mintirib – Wahiba Sands (so looking forward to the night in the desert camp and the dune bashing the day after) - Qihayd -Ras Al Jinz – Sur – Qalhat - Wadi Tiwi – Tiwi - Wadi Shab – Bimah – Muscat (8 days in total - without GPS which, as some people say, is worthless)

fly Muscat to Salalah, stay 3 nights

fly Salahlah to Dubai, stay 1 night

fly Dubai to Amsterdam.

Can't wait!
MyriamC is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 04:02 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 89
Hi Myriam,
that sounds like a REALLY nice trip.
I understand you can't wait ;-)
Have a great trip!
Cheers
Gilles
OneYearOff is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 11:58 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Thanks!

Gilles, I see that you're from Vienna. We will be there next month for 4 days. Is there anything off-the-beaten path that we should do apart from the classical sights (Prater, Stephansdom, Spittelberg, ...)?
We're not museum people but we're interested in architecture, gardens, etc.
MyriamC is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 06:32 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 2
MyriamC:

One question: are you renting a car from dubai to Khasab and if yes can you drop it there in Khasab? I searched throu the car rentals site but saw no chance to rent a car in dubai and leaving in Khasab (apparently there is no agency in khasab)!!!!!

Or u are going there by taxi? thanks for the reply
issidingo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 09:52 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
We are going there by taxi. Apparently it is possible to go by rental car. I found this information on Virtual Tourist: http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel...ab-TG-C-1.html
MyriamC is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 09:04 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 89
Hi Myriam,
Weather depending:
* Renting an electro boat on "Alte Donau" in the evening (U1 Alte Donau)
* Visiting the Belvedere
* Visiting the so much Barock "Jesuitenkirche" (1st District)
* Spittelberg is really nice
* Visiting Hundertwasser Haus (3rd District).
Restaurants (depending what you like to eat) you might want to check:
* Zum Schinakl (22nd district) - You can also rent electro boat from there
* Beim Czaak (1st District, one of the few I would recommend in the 1st)
* Plutzer Bräu (Spittelberg)
But that is a very quick list
Cheers
Gilles
If you want more information, you can contact me through my website: http://www.oneyearoff.net/contact-us
OneYearOff is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2014, 12:32 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,872
Thank you so much Gilles!
MyriamC is online now  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:37 PM.