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HOME > Oman

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Oman- UAE travel info

13 days,  Jan 09




Kind of travel:
me and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel

26th Dec08- 7th Jan 09

Do I need a visa?
No at all and we didn't even pay any entry/ exit tax

How I moved:
a domestic flight, long distance buses, minibuses, and we rented a car twice

Freezing or baking?
Wonderful weather: ranging from 20-28C. You can swim, though you might want to wear a sweater for the evenings or the air conditioned buses. I wished I hadn't brought just one

Where I slept:
Cheap hotels aren't so abundant, and standards aren't worth the price; most of the time you won't have any choice, though. With your own vehicle, free camping it's an opportunity

What I liked:
english is known almost everywhere, car renting is affordable (30€/ day) and overall safety is total everywhere at any time. As concern the highlights, the sea turtle egg-laying on the beach in the night it's a breathless experience

What I disliked:
finding cheap accommodation can be an issue, the highlights need a private veihcle and the lack of respect of most of the Western tourists in dressing

How much daily:
Oman deserves its fame as expensive country, but we made it with 46€/ day (double: 30€, dinner: 5€, car renting 30€/day). You'll hardly spend less.

Dangers/ hassles:
Inexistent, unless you don't venture independently in the desert.

What to have:
as woman
a foulard is a must, while the sunglasses unmissable for anyone


First of all, Oman surprised me: I expected the country less developed than I found, in particular in the buses, accommodations, highways, domestic airline… but meanwhile is quite untouched, despite the significant quantity of visitors coming mainly from Dubai.
Corruption is non existent, the safety is 100% everywhere at anytime, and most of the people are English speakers; just these three points will make your trip much easier than in most parts of the world.
As concern the religion, Oman is more conservative than I expected, especially in the Dofhar region (Salalah) you'll be amazed by the quantity of small mosques spread in every corner. For a girl covering your hair it's a great sign of respect, even if not mandatory.
Moreover I got impressed how the whole country is soaked by the respect and devotion towards the beloved Sultan Qabus, who in 40 years took Oman from a 'prehistoric' status to what is today. From the other hand, it's a little bit worrying to think what Oman'll be once without his leader…




[The Travel in Arab United Emirates]

The first appreciated welcome in Oman was at the Wajaja crossing point, having the visa for free, while the second one were the endless palm lined avenues, run alongside by colourful carpet-like gardens and spotted by botanical garden-like roundabouts. I don't know if it was due to the 'Gulf Meeting' held in the capital during those days, but the highway toward the capital was kept as a movie set.
We paid 25€ for a basic double at the Al- Fanar hotel almost on the Muscat sea front promenade called 'The Corniche'. The labyrinth-like Suq, the Fish Market, the Sultan Palace, the Great Mosque…. won't disappoint, keeping you busy for at least a day.
The following day a 38€ domestic flight took us to Salalah, on the opposite part of the country bordering with Yemen. The difference was quite remarkable, in particular in more conservative traditions as the one of the the few women walking around, strictly wearing their long loose black dress called Abeyya.
We settled down in the Tourist Hotel (double: 30€/ day) and the following day we rented a car just for 26€/day to explore the cost of the Dhofar region. If you are looking for an exotic place, this is the one you should go: quote remote, palm dotted, dromedaries wandering around,….
Unfortunately Nov- April is the dry season, so the landscape turns around desert, while in May- Oct the whole area is amazingly lush green.
A good tarmac road led us to visit our first Wadi, called the Dharbat:
Wadi is the Arabic word for a canyon dug by a river that flows on the bottom. The contrast between the arid area around and the green of the palms with the light blue of the waters of the Wadi, make is very scenic. Of course they give their best in the wet season (May- Oct).
The same day we visited the Khor Sour bay, where we had a bath and the remote town of Mirbat.
At 19.00 in the evening we jumped on the night bus heading to Muscat crossing the Omani desert in a 13h night trip. Even if long, it hasn't been that much tiring, despite the several stops we had by the army for passport controls. For sure travelling in the darkness we didn't miss anything, since simply there's anything around for 1000km.
In Muscat we immediately took the bus heading to Sur, but our destination where the Wahiba (Sharqiya) Sands, a sandy Sahara-like desert (otherwise the Omani deserts are rocky), that's one of the main highlights of the country.
Hence after 2h from the capital we were dropped off in a petrol station in the middle of nothing, but a telephone! We called one of the camping listed on the Lonely Planet ('Desert Discovery Tours'). A guy came by jeep to pick up us and, for 2€, brought at the camp settled in the desert at the feet of the a huge dune. Here for 22€/ each (breakfast and dinner included), we took a cabin and enjoyed the beauty of the sandy desert.
We quickly experienced the toughness to walk on the sand and, overall, how the sands burns at midday.
At the twilight we had our 4WD crazy drove on the sand for 10€ , and in the morning a 5 minutes dromedary riding.
In Sur again we rented a car (32€/ day) to reach the 'Directorate General of natural Reserve' in Ras al- Jinz, where we had perhaps the most exciting experience: the sea turtle egg- laying on the beach in the night (read the details)
The day after by car we visited the Wadi Shab (50km from Sur) and we had a walk along his bottom. The contrast of the light blue water with the arid desert turned out worthwhile, although reaching the place we got lost several times and we found ourselves driving on dirty bumpy roads, as we were on a 4WD. Once again, never drive without a map (a serious one, I mean, and not that shitty stuff on the lonely planet)
Early in the afternoon we took the bus to Muscat (3h), but before reaching the capital we were dropped off at Bid Bid, where we found a taxi to Nizwa. The town itself is surely the nicest of the whole country, being a green oasis filled of palms and surrounded by the high peaks of the Jebel (mountain) Akhdar, the whole dominated by the huge Nizwa Fort. The complex of the well kept fort and of the souq around it, form the old citadel, that's for sure one of the highlight of the country, while on the other hands, this makes Nizwa the most tourist place you'll experience in the Sultanate. Anyway, given it's the only case in Oman, I think even the most misanthropist traveller can put up with it.
Two hours by bus led us to Muscat and the following morning we left for the long 6h bus trip to the town of Buraimi to enter on foot the United Arab Emirates.

[The Travel in Arab United Emirates]


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