"Oman" Oman by lynnehamman
Oman Travel Guide: 1,330 reviews and 3,518 photos
Oman is an interesting country.
Flanked by the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, and the Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter) of Saudi Arabia, it is a fairly isolated country.
Geographically, it is diverse. Natural features divide the country into seven areas
Ruus al Jibal, which includes the northern Musandam Peninsula.
(Geographically, the Musandam Peninsula juts into the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow entry into the Persian Gulf, from the Arabian Peninsula. It is an exclave of Oman, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates. )
The Al Batinah plain runs southeast along the Gulf of Oman coast.
The Oman interior which lies behind the Al Batinah coast and has the Al Hajar Mountains and their foothills, and desert fringes.
The coast from Muscat-Mutrah around the Ras al Hadd area and down the Arabian Sea. the off shore
The island of Masirah, which is offshore.
The coastline south to the Dhofar region, with its capital, Salalah. The Yemen border lies near the southernmost point of Oman.
The coast and the lowlands around the Al Hajar mountains are desert and semi-desert region, and the mountains are distinctive and dramatic.
Our visit to Oman had been planned for a long time. I thought that I had more or less 'done my homework' on the country. I had read books, consulted relavent websites, and looked at videos.
Getting there is not quite as easy as it seems. We were lucky enough to be collected at Dubai airport by our hosts in Oman, who drove us there, via the Ras al Khaimah border crossing. Unfortunately, on the long flight from Cape Town to Dubai, I had eaten something which made me terribly sick, and we had to stop along the roadside several times- NOT an auspicious sign. I do remember going through several border posts- which was so strange, because at the check points, the guards looked for several minutes at our passports without once looking at our faces. So much for security.
The scenery was rather harsh. Semi desert and arid, with a tree here and there. The highway is good and there was a fair amount of traffic, even after we left UAE and entered Oman.
I kept looking out for some quaint villages, with wonderfully old buildings. I was disappointed. Its all modern now- freeways, flat topped but modern houses, and even the mosques looked newish. Lots of Palm & Date trees line the highways.
We stopped at a town called Sohar for breakfast at a seaside hotel, but the sea seemed a mile away.
After arriving at our place of accommodation in Muscat, we simply collapsed with exhaustion and slept the rest of the day. The heat was impossible.
It was 44degC in the shade.
The next day- after a good sleep, we walked along the Corniche- which was once probably a lovely area. It now is overun by too many cars, too many shops and modern hotels. There seems to be no economic woe in Oman.
The harbour had a few tired looking boats moored, but the oppressive heat cut our walk short. We returned again in the evening and had a nice meal at a friendly restuarant. .
Next day we hired a taxi and drove to Nizwa- quite a frustrating but interesting day of which I will explain in another page.
It was.......very hot. 45degC. And dusty in Muscat.
Overall, my impression of Muscat is that whomever is in charge of Urban Planning has forsaken the original beauty and heritage of this ancient old city, and allowed modernity to dominate. There has been a lot of 'prettification' - flowers planted in formal fashion along the roadside, and everything is sparkling clean. But to me it really lacked soul and charm. Maybe it is aspiring to become like its glamourous neighbour, Dubai. A dreadful thought that I hopes never comes to fruition.
So that very night we decided to cut short our Muscat visit, and booked a flight to Khasab, on the Musandam Peninsula (Northernmost tip of Oman)- more of on another page.
After a 2 hour flight, we landed at the tiny but functional Khasab airport. Just one small building and a landing strip. We had no problem finding accommodation- Khasab does not get too many foreign tourists.
But what a difference a plane trip made. The air was cool. The mountains were spectacular. The sea was blue. And we felt happier already.
The coastline around Khasab is a mass of fjords, sparkling blue and crystal clear water - creeping in between the rugged mountains. This is what we had come to see.
So.....sadly, we did not get to see the Wadis and deserts...or the turtle-hatching on the beaches. This country definitely deserves another visit, maybe next time we will be in a better mind-frame, and more accepting of the changes it has obviously undergone in the last few years.
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