Back from 10 days Oman

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Feb 23rd, 2011, 12:10 PM
  #1
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Back from 10 days Oman

Just came back from a wonderful trip to Oman I did with my mother and brother.
It was booked via a Dutch operator, but they used Bachwan Tours as the local ground operator. They were really wonderful, everything was arranged well and on time as agreed.
We rented a car and went around without a driver or guide, which we found really wonderful since we could take our own pace and see the places we wanted to see.

The itinerary we took was the following:

Day 1 Düsseldorf - Muscat
Flying from Dusseldorf to Muscat with Emirates

Day 2 Muscat (ca. 50 km)
Arrival in Muscat, pickup from the airport and drop off of our 4WD

Day 3 Muscat - Coastal Road - Ras Al Hadd (ca. 300 km)

Day 4 Ras Al Hadd - Wadi Bani Khalid - Wahibi Sands (ca. 180 km)
Overnight in tents in the desert

Dag 5 Wahibi Sands – Nizwa (ca. 200 km)

Dag 6 Nizwa & Jebel Shams (ca. 170 km)
Overnight in Nizwa.

Dag 7 Nizwa – Al Sawadi (ca. 270 km)
Stay in Al Sawadi Beach Resort

Dag 8 Al Sawadi
Stay in Al Sawadi Beach Resort

Dag 9 Al Sawadi
Stay in Al Sawadi Beach Resort

Dag 10 Muscat - Düsseldorf
Fly back to Dusseldorf

I will write the detailed trip report over the coming days, but here are some photo's to start of with

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nikao/s...7625970510677/
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Feb 23rd, 2011, 03:04 PM
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I'm all ears! Glad you had a good trip. Looking forward to the details.
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Feb 24th, 2011, 04:29 AM
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I'd love to go back to Oman since I was only there briefly and saw Muscat and Nizwa(really, only the mountain road to Nizwa) so am really interested in hearing about your visit to the Wahiba Sands and desert tent stay. Sounds like a great trip!
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Feb 24th, 2011, 10:03 AM
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Nikao, Would you mind sharing the name of the Dutch operator? Thanks!
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Feb 24th, 2011, 01:03 PM
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The Dutch operator was NRV (www.nrv.nl) But I personally would turn to Bahwan Tours directly if I would go back to Oman for a trip (http://www.bahwantravels.com/)
Everything was arranged perfectly so no complaints, but the added value of NRV was minimal (none?)

Day 1 Düsseldorf - Muscat
Flying from Dusseldorf to Muscat with Emirates

I must say that flying with Emirates was an absolute delight! I was surprised by the quality. There was quite enough room to sit comfortably, in flight mobile connection with your own mobile and really good food and nice service. I was really surprised though that we received 'real' spoons, forks and ....... knives to eat with. All this heavy security forcing us to remove our shoes, and on the airplane they are handing out knives! .. lol
After a flight of 6 hours we arrived in Dubai where we had to transfer to the final part of our journey; a 1 hour flight on to Muscat.
Dubai airport was quite nice and everything went quite smooth. We had a delay of 1 hour though because of the fog in Dubai, so we arrived at around 9:30 in the morning.

Day 2 Muscat (ca. 50 km)
Arrival in Muscat, pickup from the airport and drop off of our 4WD

Arriving in Muscat would soon show us how well organized Oman is! I think I was expecting some 'Afrika-like' experiences; no or late pickup, long queues, difficulty arranging visa etc. but it was quite the contrary!!
We didn't need to fill out any papers, just moved along to a desk with 2 nice ladies behind it where we would pay our visa's. Then move on to another desk to receive the actual visum, really really quick and within a few minutes we were on to claim our bagage already.
Here we would have our 2nd pleasant surprise; our lugage was already waiting for us.
So we picked up our lugage and continued to the arrivals hall to see if there would be a representative waiting for us to take us to our hotel. And yes, a very friendly driver was waiting there (an hour long because of hour delay, poor guy) and took us to the hotel.

The funny thing was that we actually forgot to use the ATM at the airport to get some money because it all went so fast and smooth! This wouldn't prove a problem as there are plenty of ATM's around Muscat.

When we arrived at the hotel there were already 3 people waiting for us; 1 guy from the car rental company to deliver the car and 2 people from Bahwan tours to explain everything about our self-drive. The car was really nice (Nissan Pathfinder), although I thought it was a pitty it was an automatic. We received a map which would prove to be not that accurate and helpful at times, but also an explanation of everything which would be enough to get us around the small part of the country we would drive around in. Once given the vouchers we were ready to go, but first it was time to check-in the hotel in Muscat and fresh up a bit.

After a nice shower we went into town and decided just to drive around a bit to find an ATM and do some grocery shopping and eat a nice lunch-picknick at the beach.
Again I was in for a surprise as I walked into the supermarket, which was a totally modern and western experience. They really had everything you could wish for!!
This was also our first experience with the extreme kindness of the Oman people! You can notice it in the way they behave in traffic, and I experienced it standing in line in the supermarket as well; I hadn't weighed my fruit and didn't get a ticket for my bread. I rushed through the store arranging all this and meanwhile uttered my apologies many times for the people waiting behind me, but everyone was just smiling and telling me to relax and not to worry.

After our lunch at the beach we went on to drive a bit through Muscat, see the old part of the city and then have diner at the hotel. After diner we went to bed early, as we had missed a night sleep traveling so we were really really tired. Next day would be our first day driving!
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Feb 24th, 2011, 01:13 PM
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Thank you, Nikao. I am in Belgium, so it's easier for me to 'do business' in my own language. I see that they have various programs for Oman. Will certainly take contact with them.
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Feb 25th, 2011, 03:32 AM
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The "nice factor" is always a pleasant surprise for me, too.

Good to know about Emirates Air. Anything that makes flying less insane. And the ease of getting a visa! Just makes you wonder why other countries can't follow Oman's example.

Your photos are wonderful - great composition. Looks like you were using the D7000 - what lenses did you bring on this trip?

Thanks!
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Feb 26th, 2011, 03:05 AM
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Day 3 Muscat - Coastal Road - Ras Al Hadd (ca. 300 km)
After breakfast (at 7:30) we left around 8:30 on our way to Ras Al Hadd via the coastal road.
Having breakfast at 7:30 and leaving at 8:30 would become our routine for the next couple of days

Driving was very easy and convenient, such great roads and even a big highway for so little cars!
After a while I noticed a parallel road next to the highway and decided to take that one instead, to be able to enjoy the view and the surroundings some more. A little later we took another parallel (dirt)road to enjoy ourselves and our 4x4 vehicle even more
We enjoyed lunch at a tine stroke of sand we claimed as our beach and also went for a swim, which was very nice.
Continuing our drive on the dirt road we hit a dead end and had to turn back a bit to get on the high way again.
This would become a habit throughout the whole trip: see something nice -> just ride of the road (most often just pick a track through the wilderness, we have a 4x4 vehicle anyways ) -> explore -> get back on the road

Next we wanted to find the famous Wadi .. (forgot the name), but the road was closed so we had to take a detour. We didn't really feel confident about the detour, but we just drove off to another Wadi (Tiwi), which later proved to be more or less connected to the other one
This Wadi was truly amazing and beautiful! We decided to drive through the village up the mountain, which required some driving skills as this road was VERY steep and VERY narrow; even small for 1 car to go through. So if you encountered someone from the other direction this meant backing up for one of the 2 cars. This made me back up once almost all the way back up through the village around the corners. But I really enjoyed driving like this so this was no problem at all.
After this we continued a bit more over the mountain to reach the 'beginning' of the wadi, and doubted for a bit to continue over the mountains. But we didn't feel sure we would end up on the coastal road again so we backed up and went the same way back.

Now it was straight on to Ras al Hadd, which was right next to the sea but really in a deserted landscape with the wind blowing really really hard over it. The hotel was ok to spent one night, but wouldn't want to stay there for longer.
Later that night we went to go see the Sea Turtles on the beach. But I'll post that experience separate tomorrow
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Feb 26th, 2011, 03:09 AM
  #9
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@Local Yes I did use a Nikon D7000, just bought it 4 days before going on this trip to replace my D70s. I still need to get used to some things of the camera (mainly focussing and composition, I got quite a bit of missfocused pictures because of the AF-A/AF-C/AF-S setting )
But overall I was really REALLY pleased with the performance of the body and the quality of the pictures coming out of it. Especially being able to shout at Iso 6400 and get pictures that still is more or less acceptable is very nice.

I use mainly these 3 lenses:
Nikkor 80-200 F2.8 ED
Nikkor 24-85 F2.8-F4 ED
Sigma 10-20mm F 4-5.6 EX DC HSM Nikon
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Feb 27th, 2011, 02:42 AM
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Watching Sea Turtles
Near Ras al Hadd there is a science/protection center with its own piece of beach where huge amounts of sea turtles come to lay their eggs. There are turtles practicly every day, also out of season, so sightings are pretty much guaranteed.
Although wildlife watching is really my favorite thing to do on holidays, I didn't really enjoy this.
They limited the amount of people they are allowing to the beach each night nowedays, but this can still mean you are with 100 people there.
We were split into 3 groups of around 20 people and walked up on the beach where a view persons were looking for the turtles with flashlights, signaling a group to come over when they found one.
Although it was nice to be able to see the turtles dig the hole, lay their eggs, cover the eggs with sand and even witness the tiny turtles coming out of the eggs and making their way to sea, I didn't really feel comfortable. It just felt that we were disturbing the turtles to much with all our walking around, flashlights and creating footprints where the tiny turtles would get stuck in (and the guides picking up the baby ones and point them towards the sea).

I must say this is very personal; my mother really enjoyed herself and thought it was wonderful to see the complete process of the turtles. But consider how you feel about observing wildlife in general and if you are like me you can skip this excursion
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Feb 27th, 2011, 05:21 AM
  #11
 
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Hi- the links for the operators didn't work. Can you double check? Thanks!
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Feb 27th, 2011, 05:29 AM
  #12
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the forum includes the closing ) in the url, remove that and its working

http://www.bahwantravels.com/
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Mar 5th, 2011, 04:14 PM
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It's nice to read about the less visited places. Thanks for posting.
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Mar 17th, 2011, 01:38 PM
  #14
 
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Wow, this is great. I've never really thought about traveling to Oman but now I'm intrigued. Did your mother go swimming on the beaches? If so, what did she wear? Were there many tourists?

Thanks so much for giving us the local ground operator information... the only way to go

Can't wait for the rest..
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Jan 14th, 2012, 10:42 AM
  #15
 
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Wonderful report and wonderful trip. And wonderful photos, too (I could CRY seeing a LIGHT like in some shots of yours). I'm burning to set off on this trip (still 2 months...).
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