Oman’s rise as one of the most exciting travel destinations of the Middle East is not surprising. This is a land of stark contrasts; 21st-century malls stand beside traditional ‘souqs’ in the capital, new condominiums rise above crumbling housing in pretty coastal towns, and deserts spread across vast portions of the country, yet travel south and you’ll find waterfalls and luscious plantations that’ll have you believing you’ve swapped continents. With just seven days, waste no time in hitting the road upon arrival, with the first stop at Al Hamra taking you to ancient palaces, majestic forts and bustling markets capturing the traditional Omani way of life. Pass breathtaking mountain gorges - or ‘wadis’ - along the way to Wahiba Sands, where you’ll be bedding down for the night in Bedouin tents. You’ll also have a day to explore Salalah and its wonderful green scenery and plethora of cultural sights before flying back to Muscat to end the trip.
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You’ll be whisked away upon arrival at Muscat’s international airport to the mountainous village of Al Hamra, situated around 50 miles from the Omani capital. Waste no time in exploring your new surroundings, with trips to the impressive Al Hazam and Rutaq forts. There’s also an enroute stop at Wadi Bani Auf, a giant gorge chiselled into the rocky terrain. Spend the night in Al Hamra’s The View Hotel, perched on the hilltops.
Depart Al Hamra for a trip to Jabreen and Bahla, a UNESCO World heritage site famous for its longstanding pottery industry. There’s chance to explore a second UNESCO site at Bat, one of the most complete collections of settlements and necropolises dating back to the 3rd millennium B.C. The final stop-offs of the day are to Wadi Ghul and Wadi Nakhar, two stunning mountain gorges etched into the looming rocky terrain. Back to Al Hamra for a second night in The View Hotel.
This morning the trip makes its way to the popular city of Nizwa, a regional capital and the birthplace of Islam in the Sultanate of Oman. Must-see attractions in the city include the famous 17th century Round Tower Fort and the central souq (market), as well as excursions out of Nizwa to a mountainside village which boasts some dense date plantations. The remainder of the day will be spent on the road to the Wahiba Sands - where you’ll be bedding down for the night on the dunes in tents.
Early risers can enjoy the spectacular sunrise over the deep red sands of Wahiba. Fill up with a campside breakfast before exploring some traditional Bedouin houses in the desert. Before heading to the final stop of Ras al Jinz, take a detour to Wadi Bani Khalid, a site comprising a tiny collection of small houses embedded in the mountains and overlooking a deep valley with azure waters nested below. Turtle watching is planned at night in the coastal town of Ras al Jinz.
Today, you will drive to Muscat for a flight to the southern city of Salalah, but there’s plenty in the way of sightseeing beforehand. First up is a stop at a fish jetty and dhow (traditional Omani boats) factory, as well as the impressive Sineslah Fort. There’s also time to explore the revered Bibi Miriam’s Tomb and the Bimah Sinkhole, a spectacular limestone crater with turquoise water at the bottom. From Muscat, board the evening flight to Salalah and transfer to the Hilton Salalah.
With only one day to explore this luscious southern region of Oman, there’s a lot to fit in. Hit the road early with visits to the fishing village of Taqa, an old town with an interesting castle surrounded by watchtowers and Taqa stone houses. It’s then on to Khor Rori creek, the site of the ancient capital Arabia’s frankincense trade. An afternoon visit takes you to the tomb of a Biblical Prophet, Job, which is perched high up in the “Jebels” (mountains). The journey up is quite spectacular, and there’s plenty of opportunity to stop and admire the view before returning to Salalah City and your hotel in the evening.
After a whole week of exploring Oman, the time has come for the trip to end. Check out of the Hilton in Salalah for a morning flight back to Muscat. Arrival at the airport marks the end of the trip, and guests are free to continue on to their next destination of choice.
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.
The Ras Al Haad nature reserve is one of Oman’s hidden gems, located on the eastern shores of the secluded Arabian peninsula. The reserve is set in a scenic setting, where travelers can discover a surreal landscape of rugged mountains and golden deserts, hugged by an expansive 27-mile glistening shoreline. Established in 1996, the Ras Al Haad reserve prides itself as one of the largest nesting areas for green turtles in the Indian Ocean, as well as housing a number of exceptional, 6,000-year-old archaeological sites. The reserve offers a unique experience, where scenes of unspoilt coastlines and vibrant green oases are coupled with unparalleled sights of sea turtles nesting in their natural habitat. The Ras Al Haad offers an ideal ecotourism destination where travelers can witness the extraordinary nesting process of these majestic sea giants in a rare and virtually unseen world.
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.