After a short flight from Dubai (about 1 hour), we landed in Muscat, the capital of Oman, around 00:15. Our first adventure was to rent a car at the airport. At this time of year (March), on a Friday evening and without a credit card (credit) but a credit card (debit), no company wanted to accept us! Welcome! This credit card problem is very annoying and is clearly not adapted for all nationalities! We had already faced this problem in the United States. Be careful if you want to rent a car at the airport. If you don’t have a famous credit card, you will need to find a plan B, and I can assure you that it can take a long time.
Anyway after 2 long hours, we finally met a person who knew a person and so on…and we managed to rent a car for 6 days to a local company with a cash payment. We were not very comfortable but… The price was right, the car in good condition and we had a contract. We were tired, it was the middle of the night but we preferred to wait on the spot and find a solution rather than take a taxi and pay a scandalous price for a 13-minute ride ($100) to our hotel. With calm and patience, everything turned out well and we were able to return to our hotel.
The next day after a short night, we started our journey with the fort of Nakhal (1 hour from Muscat), a completely different environment since the beginning of our trip. We continued with the Mutrah souk, the most touristic spot in the capital located near the “corniche”. At night, the atmosphere is very local, you will find many incense shops, jewelry, and souvenirs… There is life, locals, tourists, all that gives a positive “vibe”. However, the restaurant offer is disappointing! Having tested several of them, the best one is the corniche restaurant located at the top of the stairs of the main entrance of the souk. This first day in this new country was positive. We felt a great change of scenery after our Asian getaway and that’s what we were looking for!
The rest of our road trip continued towards Nizwa about 1h45 by road southwest of Muscat. The trip allows you to go inland and discover beautiful mountains and an exotic scenery. For information, we only spent one day discovering this region because in the evening we had to return to Muscat where our accommodation was. Our first stop of the day was the discovery of the fort of the city of Bahla, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fort is bigger than the one in Nakhal but it is neither better nor worse! Unless you are passionate about the subject, a visit to a single Omani fort is enough to immerse yourself in the local architecture and atmosphere. Then we headed back to the city of Nizwa (formerly the capital of Oman) and visited its historical part and souk. I had read on various blogs that it was a must-see place, but honestly, we didn’t find anything exceptional there.
For information between Bahla Fort and Nizwa, you will have the opportunity to make a stop to visit Jibreen Castle. We have decided to ignore it, but apparently this one is very beautiful. On the way back to Muscat, we stopped at Birkat Al Mawz, a mysterious and abandoned village built in the lower part of Jebel Akhdar Mountain, nicknamed the “Green Mountain”. Nearby (about 1 km), you will also find a sublime palm grove.
From memory, a 4 x 4 type adapted vehicle is necessary if you want to get lost in the mountains. If you are not equipped, don’t panic, some locals will be waiting for you to offer you a ride.
Back in Muscat to spend our last night there, we continued our discovery of the country the next day heading southeast towards the small coastal town of Sur. On the way, a swim break was imposed on the Bimmah Sinkhole, a 40-metre wide rocky basin filled with turquoise water. The spot is very nice and as a bonus you will be entitled to a “free fish pedicure”. We then took the car back for a lunch break in a very local atmosphere just a stone’s throw from the start of the Wadi Shab.
After a short boat trip, departure for a 45-minute sumptuous walk to reach the Wadi. Rock, palm trees, turquoise waters, the scenery is grandiose and exotic… Then, inevitably, there will be people at the Wadi for swimming but honestly the spot is nice! After this busy day we reached the city of Sur.
We finished our road trip to Sur where we spent 2 days to rest before flying to Europe and reach Amsterdam. The city of Sur does not offer many activities but the “corniche” is pleasant to walk and admire the fishermen at work. Depending on the season, you will have the opportunity to admire turtles at dawn on a nearby beach. The area also offers 4×4 outings in the desert with the possibility of spending the night there.
Oman sounds a bit like the new trendy destination! The country offers diverse landscapes: desert, mountain, wadi, sea… and this is clearly a major asset. On the other hand, exchanges with local people are not so simple. Having never travelled in this part of the world, the experience was exotic and interesting, especially after Asia, but I will not classify this trip as a favorite.
Hope this article will help to organize your next travel.
Feel free to contact me, if you need more info.