Oman, once a great power and prominence in the Middle East, all but disappeared off the radar during the 20th century. However, the country still retains its former glory in the form of bustling souqs, magnificent palaces, ancient forts - not to mention the county’s plethora of natural wonders such as deep valleys that cut into towering mountains (wadis) and vast deserts stretching for hundreds of miles. This nine-day tour of Oman promises to rediscover it all. After exploring the capital of Muscat, you’ll head cross country to Al Hamra, over mountains to the vast sand dunes at Wahiba, all before ending this memorable journey in the lush southern city of Salalah.
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Kick off this nine-day tour of Oman upon arrival in the capital of Muscat, where you’ll be met by your English-speaking guide at the airport. From there, it’s on to your hotel. The rest of the day has been set aside for recuperation – you can also get to know your new surroundings in the evening with a stroll around town or with a laid back dinner.
Start your day with the hotel’s buffet breakfast before embarking on a full day’s sightseeing tour of Muscat. Your first stop is the highly-revered Grand Mosque, a highlight of the city that takes on a distinctly classical Arab appearance, despite being constructed as recently as 2001. From there, it’s on to Bait Al Zubair Museum, as well as trips to a bustling waterfront souq, the magnificent Al Alam Palace, and a hilltop restaurant – all before returning for a well-earned rest at your hotel.
The Royal Opera House, a towering beacon portraying the long history of Muscat, awaits on the morning of this third day. Afterwards there’s further cultural excursions to the Natural History Museum and Baushar archaeological site that dates back to the Iron Age. The afternoon takes on a completely new twist - and change of scenery: head to the Marina and embark on a relaxed ‘Dhow’ (traditional fishermans’ boat) cruise around Muscat’s coastline.
Watch as the scenery evolves into the stunning natural beauty of Oman’s desert terrain as you make your way along the meandering 50-mile route from Muscat to the village of Al Hamra. Pass sparkling springs, ancient forts and slowly roll though isolated mountain villages. The day’s final destination, Al Hamra, is famous for its date plantations as well as beekeeping; there’s ample opportunity to see both of these ancient productions still thriving in the village today.
A whole host of cultural visits await on this fifth day. After breakfast, head out to Jabrin, one of the finest of castles in the country, dating back to the 17th century. There’s a photo stop at Bahla Fort before the trip proceeds to a quaint pottery village where there’s a chance to try your hand at the local art alongside local professionals. After lunch, hit the road again with a visit to the oasis fort of Bahla before returning to the superb ‘The View’ hotel, overlooking the mountains of Al Hamra.
A morning drive departs Al Hamra, making the scenic journey to the 17th-century ‘Round Tower Fort’; here you’ll be able to explore the ancient building and its surrounding ‘souq’, selling everything from cattle to intricately hand-carved “Khanjars” (daggers) and ornamental silver jewellery. The remainder of the day is set aside for the journey to the famous Wahiba Sands, an incredible sea of red sand dunes - some of which rise as high as 500 feet. No hotels here, so bed down for the night in traditional Bedouin-style tents.
Set your alarm clocks for dawn to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the glowing red Wahiba Sands. Enjoy a campsite breakfast before journeying out towards the magnificent Wadi Bani Khalid, a deep valley that cuts into the mountainside with clear blue water lying beneath. A valley-top picnic precedes visits to a fish jetty and dhow factory, and there’s also time to stop by the pretty coastal town of Sur on the way back to the Muscat. From there, catch a plane to the southern city of Salalah and check in to Juweira Boutique Hotel.
Wake up surrounded by the greenery of Salalah, the southern Omani city known for its lush vegetation and Mediterranean climate. An interesting visit to the fishing village of Taqa is first on the day’s programme, and here you can explore the old town’s castle, fort and traditional Taqa stone houses. Stop by Khor Rori creek, the site of the ruined city of Samhuram, before passing through Mirbat, the ancient capital of Dhofar, and end the day with visits to the Biblical “Nabi Ayoub” Prophet Job’s Tomb, a real highlight of Salalah that is perched high up in the “Jebels” (mountains).
A morning flight, after breakfast of course, takes you from Salalah Airport to your original starting point, Muscat. There’s time to relax and enjoy the complimentary luxuries of the Plaza Premium Lounge before boarding the flight. Arrival in the capital marks the end of this nine-day trip, and guests are free to head on to their next destination of choice.
The rugged Al Hajar mountains make a rustic backdrop behind the fortress-like Al Bustan Palace, which overlooks a canopy of perfectly-manicured lawns and an expansive half-mile private beach. Authentic Arab influences run throughout the hotel and its 150 rooms to remind guests of the rich and ostentatious Arabian culture. Beautifully-designed interiors are an artistic combination of old and new, fusing local traditions and art deco hints to create a unique melange of Middle Eastern culture and art. Particularly notable is the spectacular 125-foot-high domed atrium lobby, which, along with the ornate wall covers and intricate carvings has earnt the hotel the extravagant reputation as the ‘Jewel of the Sultanate’. Its idyllic location and range of facilities gives guests the opportunity to indulge in a number of watersports or simply relax in one of the five outdoor pools. Four exquisite dining options from alluring beachfront restaurants provide guests with spectacular sea views while they savour exceptional flavors from around the world.
Just 15 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Muscat, Oman, the spectacular Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa sprawls over a rugged peninsula, reaching out into the crystal blue water of the Sea of Oman. Featuring a long, sandy beach and surrounded by mountains, this resort matches its spectacular natural environment with its exquisite design and architecture, calling back to times of Arabian Palaces and local markets. Guests may choose between three distinct hotels located across the property: Al Waha, “the Oasis,” a family-friendly hotel turned seaside paradise; Al Bandar, “the Town,” which serves as the shopping-and-eating hub of the resort, and the palatial Al Husn, "the Castle,” the most luxurious of them all. With world-class restaurants and seaside cafes and bars, a wide variety of water activities including sea kayaking and scuba diving, and –of course –CHI, The Spa, guests at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa will lose themselves in fun, in adventure, in luxury, and in style.
A stay at The Chedi in the Omani capital of Muscat is an experience like no other. Sitting on its own private beach, with the glittering waters of the Gulf of Oman on one side and views of the Al Hajar mountains rising up behind, yet right in the thick of the city, The Chedi is an urban oasis from its sultry, lantern lit lobby to its lush Moroccan gardens and sumptuous Balinese spa. Guests relax in rooms combining traditional Omani architecture balanced with influences from around the world for a sleek, elegant and ultimately relaxing experience. A culinary whistlestop tour is on offer with cuisines from nearby and as far afield as Europe and Southeast Asia, in artfully-designed restaurants, indoors beneath sparkling chandeliers and alfresco, with the sand underfoot. Leisure guests have every whim catered to with outdoor pools, a 13-suite spa, fitness club and souvenir boutique, while business guests can keep things afloat in the well-equipped business center.
Located on the rocky slopes of Jabal Shams mountain, The View in Al Hamra boasts breathtaking views from its elevated platform of 4,593 feet. As the very first eco-luxe retreat of its kind in Oman, it features 30 unique and distinctively designed pod-style rooms, all enveloped in refreshingly exotic vegetation. They offer a tranquil sanctuary, overlooking the expansive valley below and feature a private balcony where guests can unwind and marvel at the compelling mountainous scenery. Nature takes pride of place here and pure, unrefined beauty is a theme that runs throughout the retreat. A temperature-controlled infinity pool is another attractive element, featuring a stunning backdrop as it ‘drops off’ into the valley below. By night, wooden fires are lit, creating an intimate setting to share experiences and adventures while admiring the distant glow of Al Hamra village deep down in the valley.
Rising like a surreal mirage out of the colorful Wahiba Sands, Desert Nights Camp is an exclusive five-star hotel in Oman. The fragrance of frankincense and myrrh greet guests upon arrival for a journey into an alluring Arabian world. Offering luxurious comfort in the form of Bedouin-style tents under a blanket of Arabian stars, the camp is an exceptional destination with exclusive air. Red sand dunes create a romantic backdrop for these intimate air-conditioned tents, complete with Omani-style decor and furnishings. An extravagant bathroom is the highlight of the room, featuring world-class amenities and golden tiles for a lavish and airy feel. All rooms open out to encompass panoramic scenes over the silken desert sands, offering serene and picturesque views.
Located on a beautiful, windswept beach in the vibrant city of Salalah, the Hilton Salalah offers a unique experience in true Omani style. Its highly-convenient location means it’s just a 15-minute drive to Salalah International Airport and a short walk away from the city, also known as the perfume capital of Arabia. All 147 rooms and suites are beautifully appointed; a combination of modern amenities with authentic Omani touches exude an understated elegance. It is not uncommon to be enveloped in the delicate scent of frankincense within this exquisitely-landscaped resort and be left speechless by sweeping panoramic views over the Indian Ocean. Guests can opt to spend days of leisure relaxing in the temperature-controlled pool or engage in a blood-pumping game on one of the floodlit tennis courts and savour balmy nights with a bonfire dinner on the white sands in front of the resort.
The Juweira Boutique Hotel is located on the tropical marina of Salalah Beach, overlooking the sparkling Indian Ocean. Designed by Egyptian architect Adel Mokhtar the building encompasses a subtle oriental theme fused with contemporary European flavors. Each of its 65 rooms and suites are elegant and understated, portraying traditional and cultural Omani values. The hotel’s idyllic beachside setting allows guests to participate in a number of water activities as well as exploring the nearby golden shores of the private beach or simply relax in the on-site jacuzzi or pools. By night, this superb four-star hotel is no less spectacular; its gleaming white edifice is reflected in the calm ocean waters, creating timeless scenes for which Arabia is renowned.