When the sun sets down in this beautiful country it turns the surrounding mountain cliffs blood red, at that moment you feel like you are in a different planet. Oman has a jaw dropping geographic beauty. Everyone (including us) comes expecting only sand and desert, but visitors are blown away by the wild landscape, friendly people, sparkling white beaches, deep mountain ravines (wadi’s), strong rivers and surrounding mountains.
Sun setting over the city Sur located on the south shore of Oman
Fortress located in Nizwa, Oman
After travelling around Oman for 10 days we realised more and more that this country is truly a hidden treasure of the Arabian Peninsula. It’s also quite interesting how little most people actually know about Oman and its people. Most of the time we really felt like we were the only tourists in this country.
The Oman boarders lie only 100 km away from Dubai, so we recommend to use the opportunity if in Dubai to go and visit this beautiful and interesting country. There are a few good ways to get there; either by bus, rent a car or hitchhike. We decided to take the bus from Dubai to Muscat, which takes around 7 hours. In Muscat we rented a car, which is relatively cheap…..BUT the best part: in Oman the liter of petrol costs less then a bottle of water or only 0.30 US dollar so it is perfect for road tripping. The Sultanate of Oman is rich in oil and its wealth has been used to built good roads and infrastructure. As in Dubai, you don’t pay tax of your salary.
Watch out for the Camels!
After getting back from Oman we’ve figured out many reasons why we would love to go back there some time…
Reasons to visit Oman
Wide range of landscapes
We were quite surprised when we discovered the wide variety of landscape in Oman. It was an amazing experience to drive down from the mountains, past the white beaches and along the desert with wild camels walking by. In Oman you will also find many small mountain-villages, surrounded by banana trees and date palms (here you will find the best dates in the world).
Friendly camel in the desert
It is also gifted with a rich biodiversity – especially in its marine life, due to the broad climatic spectrum and unique location in the Indian Ocean. Oman has five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles. Turtle watching is quite popular among travellers in Oman. At night the turtles carry their heavy shells on their backs and dig a hole in the sand using the tips of their paws to bury their eggs.
We visited Oman in January and the local people agree that this is the best time of year for visiting since the weather is mild and warm, but not unbearably hot. During the summer months the heat can be uncomfortable.
Hiking up Wadi Shab
Sunset in the desert
Th Omanis are one of the friendliest and most helpful people we have ever met! The atmosphere in Oman is relaxed and people seem to be really happy. The country is safe for travellers and most people can speak understandable english.
Everyone we met was really curious about us, our home country and what we were doing in Oman. For example one day we seemed quite lost, wandering around in Muscat looking for a car rental service, when a middle-aged man stopped over and asked if we needed any help. He informed us that the car rentals were closed on fridays (their main praying day). After some chat he offered to drive us to the beach and show us around since we didn’t have a car yet. We accepted that and we had the most interesting talk with him until he dropped us off at the beach. That’s just one tiny example of how friendly the people are.
Father and son. Omanis wear their traditional clothing every day
We met these friendly ladies in a small mountain village – Misfat al Abryeen
Friendly Omani people
The whole time we spent in Oman we used Couchsurfing (except from a few nights spent sleeping in our rental car) and we stayed with 3 different hosts. All of them did their best in making our stay as comfortable and pleasant as possible. We met hosts that did literally anything for us. Drove us around, cooked for us and one of them even gave us one of his traditional costumes. In Oman hospitality plays a big role in the culture. As said in Islam, they believe that: “those who are truly blessed will gladly share their wealth” and most of them live by that rule.
Old Omani making a decorative boat
Hiking with our lovely Couchsurfing-host, Aziz
The cuisine of Oman is a mixture of Asian and Arabic foods. Their typical dishes are often based on chicken, lamb or fish served with rice or arabic bread. Most Omani dishes tend to contain a rich mixture of spices, herbs, and marinades. They also often serve the food with “Hummus” and yoghurt.
You will however not find pork or wine on the menu since Oman is officially Muslim, but from our experience many people enjoy drinking wine or beer in their private home. Apparently your allowed to bring alcohol with you to Oman for private use if you buy it abroad or at the airport in Muscat.
Our favourite local dish was the Oman Shuwa, a lamb marinated with spices and wrapped in sacks made of dry banana or palm leaves. The meat is cooked slowly for up to two days in underground clay ovens. The meat becomes extremely tender and the spices and herbs give it a very distinct taste. You can order it in some local restaurants and it’s usually served with arabic bread or rice.
When in Oman it is a must to try their mixed fruit juice. They will mix for you mango, pomegranate, orange and avocado forming rainbow coloured layers in long glasses and top it with nuts.
Leifur enjoying Oman Shuwa
So if you ever plan to visit the Middle-East, don’t miss out on this hidden gem!
Check out our blog on more amazing sights in Oman!
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