Our journey started with the wadi’s and sink holes of Oman, somewhere everybody should go when visiting this Gulf state. In the gin-clear jade waters drifting between the cascading jagged rocks, our new landscape had a sheer sense of mystery about it. Oman’s unspoilt natural beauty left us with no doubt, that it was a gem destined to be explored.
I admired the beautiful landscapes enhanced by fearless local people diving in the water from above, whilst I gently floated in the tranquil water below. The ripples created travelled through the caves and tunnels and I was left in awe of the landscape around me. I felt captivated by my surroundings, and fell into utter appreciation of the natural world around us.
We then experienced miles of driving through the dusty brown desert, in a four wheel drive vehicle, with sand lashing vertically upwards in front of the windows, like curtains protecting us against the blaring saffron-yellow sun. Distance can be deceptive in this barren land. The vast absence of humanity is what captured the ultimate essence of being in this never ending desert land, of the Middle East.
Gliding down golden dunes.
As our journey went on, the sand dunes looked like folds of a perfectly smooth silk cloth that seemed to wrap the area around me. This was the perfect opportunity for my group of intrepid travellers to get out and go sand boarding, as there is nothing more satisfying than gliding down golden dunes. We settled for the night in our self-made camp entirely alone, under the clear night sky studded with thousands of twinkling stars. I felt the sincere sense of freedom.
Lulled to sleep by the gentle whistling of the wind and shifting of the sand, we were to be suddenly woken in the morning by donkeys rustling around our tents. Hungry we walked until we found the nearest village about 6km away. The local people were startled at first but then delighted to see us pass by. We stopped at the local bakery to stock up on supplies of mini banana cakes costing us around 5p, and fresh loaves of bread just hot out of the oven.
We then travelled towards the coast stunned by the contrasting nature Oman has to offer. Taking the boat from Al-Bustan with Muscat set amidst the craggy mountains, we sailed to a small isolated island with spinner dolphins gliding across the tip of the boat, playing gracefully in their natural undisturbed habitat. A fascinating display of pure beauty. We tied up the boat and dived off to explore and appreciate how tranquil and serene this little piece of paradise that we had found was, and to climb around on the rock faces.
Sailing back to the mainland watching as the last rays of sunshine sneak behind the mountains creating a vibrant sunset, the beaches were packed with young local boys fiercely practicing their football barefoot, with local people embracing the moment enjoying picnics containing the most exquisite mix of local cuisine. As the intense smells lingered I gazed into the sunset as the seabirds swooped by, to appreciate the stunning impact of our diverse natural earth, which is at its peak and waiting to be explored in Oman.
Get off the beaten track and explore.
Oman is a place for the adventurous to get off the beaten track and find things to explore for the first time. Despite being a great lover of the outdoors, I ventured into what some might call complete chaos; the hustle and bustle of an Omani souk! It’s like Aladdin’s cave with an array of spices, silver, pashminas and antiques, as well as everything else weird and wonderful that comes in-between. Ear plugs wouldn’t go a miss at an Omani souk as the shop owners try desperately however respectfully, to draw you in to view their goods.
Exploring the real Middle East
For me, Oman is a real experience of the Middle East especially in comparison to its ‘touristic’ neighbours of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It shows everything charming and civilised about what the elegance of Arabia should be. Many people are still dressed in traditional attire and are proud of their heritage as opposed to the concrete jungle of Dubai, swamped with expats. (However, for a luxury holiday these places do have many pro’s as a place to visit).
Although the grand mosque does not outshine the one in Abu Dhabi, Oman boasts a lot of impressive architecture, and of course super yachts like you have never seen before harboured in Muscat. Super yachts in such a size that they almost make those harboured in St Tropez appear rather average. The dusty desert land shouldn’t be overlooked and should be added to everybody’s travel list. Even if for only a short break from Dubai. Overnight desert camping and dune bashing is a must for a unique authentic Omani experience.