EXOTIC LANDS AND UNDISCOVERED JEWELS OF ARABIA; MUSCAT AND REGIONS, SULTANATE OF OMAN
Day 1 – Arrive Muscat, Oman
There are direct flights to/from Muscat, Oman from Middle Eastern International Airport Hubs, such as Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Doha (Qatar) and Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). In the evening, we arrive at the Muscat International Airport, we are welcomed by our private driver scheduled by our resort and continue a 30-minute transfer to our resort.
Day 2 – Beach Day
A heavenly setting along the mountains, dramatic cliffs and sparkling sea surprises guests of Shangri-La Al Husn Hotel. Our day begins with a wonderful Arabic breakfast buffet. The enclosed white sand beach set along cliffs and mountains, creates an ideal playground to swim, snorkel, kayak, sunbathe and observe the green turtles along the rocky shore. The lounging area around the infinity pool offers spaciousness, relaxation and peaceful place to have lunch. The expansive grounds of our resort offer lounging on multiple beaches, lazy river floating and scenic bay views. Bewitching scenery, immaculate resort facilities and excellent restaurants create a peaceful vacation place.
Day 3 – Wahiba Sands, Wadi Bani Khalid
The golden sand dunes of Wahiba Sands and natural green wadi (valleys) describe Oman’s Sharqiya Region. An excursion begins with few hours’ drive from Muscat to Wahiba Sands, vast desert with 100-150 meters high golden sand dunes. The thrill of sand dunes bashing involves an experienced driver in a four-wheel drive vehicle who dramatically ascends and descends along the sand dunes pathways. In the desert valley, we observe sporadic Bedouin Camps and camels soaking up the sun. We visit a traditional Bedouin Camp to learn about nomadic life and enjoy local snacks of dates and strong coffee. The drive along the picturesque villages, rocky canyons and cliffs leads to Wadi Bani Khalid. The serene wadi (valley) provides a natural setting to swim, hike, relax and enjoy picnic lunch. In the evening, we return to our resort.
Day 4 – Oman’s Coast and Beaches
The glittering Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman complement the landscape of mountains, Arabian architecture and picturesque villages. An excursion follows the coastal highway route Muscat–Sur and magnifies the beautiful coastal scenery between Quriyat and Sur. The route passes the Gulf of Oman, dramatic Eastern Hajar Mountains and quaint villages along the way. The town of Sur exhibits historic trading center, port and ship building traditions at dhow-building yard. The coastal route continues towards the National Nature Reserve with green turtle nesting at Ras Al Jinz. The protected reserve requires advanced reservation and an overnight stay. This highly recommended center is on our list for future visit. Traversing the coast, we discover small villages, scenic bays and quiet beaches.
Day 5 – Nizwa, Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain)
The historic Nizwa, panoramic Al Hajar Mountains, hilltop villages and Green Mountain reflect the beauty of Ad Dakhiliyah Region. A two hour drive from Muscat to the ancient capital city of Nizwa passes by the walled Fanja Village and watchtower. The visit to the Nizwa city reveals the traditional Nizwa Souk and strategic defensive system of Nizwa Fort. The short drive from Nizwa leads to the Falaj Daris, Oman’s oldest water supply and irrigation system. Along the scenic drive to Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain), we stop at Birkat Al Mouz Village to observe its unique stone houses and at Hail Al Yemen to admire Oman’s ancient houses constructed on the mountain slopes. The Sahab Hotel offers perfect views of the Al Hajar Mountains, ancient village and agricultural green terraces. At sunset, we continue our few hours journey back to Muscat.
Day 6 – Snorkeling Excursion, Beach Day
The panoramic Al Hajar Mountains, the picturesque Gulf of Oman, the nature reserves and colorful underwater treasures illustrate Al Batinah Region. Marina Shangri-La, situated just minutes away from Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, serves as marine center for snorkeling, scuba diving and dolphin watching expeditions. We arrange a few hour snorkeling excursion through Extra Divers Qantab and begin a 20-minute boat ride to the Turtle’s Bay. The sunny weather, calm turquoise sea and rocky coastline create wonderful conditions to observe the green turtles, diverse schools of fish and vibrant coral reef at the Turtle Bay. In the afternoon, we return to our hotel and spend a relaxing time at the beach.
Day 7 – Muscat
The Al Hajar Mountains, the Gulf of Oman, distinct Arabic architecture and cultural sites present Oman’s capital city of Muscat. A city tour follows the route along Al Bustan Palace and famous Arabian wooden dhow boat of Sohar. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque reflects a marvelous architecture and interior décor accentuated by the Iranian carpet, wooden ceilings, crystal chandelier and mosaic dome ceiling. The short drive to the private museum of Bait Al Zubair Museum educates about the ancient village life, regional costumes and ancient traditions. The drive along Muttrah commercial quarter displays a picturesque corniche. The visit to Muttrah Souk exhumes the feeling of old Arabia with narrow streets, artisan products, specialty shops and colorful Arabic textiles. The Old Muscat quarter houses Sultan Qaboos’ Al Alam Palace with views of the mountains and Portuguese Forts of Al Jalali and Al Mirani. Next, we drive back to our hotel for dinner.
Day 8 – Muscat Departure
After a hearty breakfast featuring Arabic and international cuisine we transfer to the Muscat International Airport for our international flight.
Oman’s Coast & Beaches – The old Arabian culture, pure coastal beauty, golden sand dunes, majestic mountains and wadis (valleys) define the Sultanate of Oman. The coastal highway route Muscat–Sur and specifically the coastal stretch from Quriyat to Sur, presents beautiful scenery of the Gulf of Oman, Eastern Hajar Mountains and quaint villages and towns. The town of Sur exhibits historic trading center, port and ship building traditions at dhow-building yard. Oman’s protected environment and unpolluted waters of Arabian Sea create natural conditions for green turtle nesting at Ras Al Jinz (National Nature Reserve). Created in 1996, the expansive nature reserve provides guided education and observation sessions of sea turtle nesting process in the natural environment. The access to turtle nesting beach is restricted and allowed by reservation only and requires an overnight stay. The coastline along the Gulf of Oman offers seemingly infinite landscape of mountains, quaint villages, scenic bays and beautiful white sand beaches.
Wahiba Sands & Wadi Bani Khalid – Oman’s Sharqiya Region is defined by the canyons, mountains, wadi (valleys), golden sand dunes, turtle nesting beaches and historic symbols. Wahiba Sands represents vast desert with 100-150 meters high golden sand dunes, natural wilderness and traditional Bedouin Camps visible along the way. The thrill of sand dunes bashing requires skills, practice, courage and an experienced driver in a four-wheel drive vehicle. We begin our pulse raising sand dunes bushing adventure as we ascend and descent along the challenging sand dunes pathways. The visit to traditional Bedouin Camp educates about the local customs and traditional Bedouin life. Traversing through Oman’s diversified landscape we observe picturesque villages, rocky canyons and cliffs at Wadi Bani Khalid. This enclosed wadi (valley) creates a serene location to swim, hike, relax and enjoy a picnic lunch. Desert Thunder Travel & Tourism Company organizes our private tour and completes few hours journey back to our hotel.
Nizwa & Jebel Akhdar– Oman’s Ad Dakhiliyah Region hosts the ancient sandstone city of Nizwa surrounded by the beautiful Al Hajar Mountains. Situated just 170 kilometers (2 hours) from Muscat, Nizwa educates about its history and agricultural traditions. En route to Nizwa, a visit to Fanja Village reveals strategic walled village and watchtower. Nizwa represents an ancient capital, religious symbol dating back to Islam conversion and regional trade route. Nizwa city presents authentic sandstone structures encircling the souk and the fort. The traditional Nizwa Souk trades an array of products, including pottery, silver and crafts. Nizwa Fort represents strategic defensive system and past governing headquarters for Imams and Walis. Atop the fort, we observe the stunning views of Nizwa city, colorful mosque tower and surrounding mountains. Within close proximity to Nizwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Falaj Daris represents Oman’s oldest water supply and irrigation system used for regional villages and wadis (valleys). The exploration continues along the winding route to the Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain). Situated on the side of the mountain, Birkat Al Mouz Village exhibits marvelous ancient stone houses and green valley of banana plantations. Hail Al Yemen provides another glimpse into Oman’s ancient stone houses constructed on the slopes of Jebel Akhdar. Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain) is part of scenic Al Hajar Mountains stretching inland in the northern part of Oman and towards coastline of Gulf of Oman. The Sahab Hotel offers excellent lodging or beautiful place to visit and admire magnificent views of Al Hajar Mountains, ancient villages and agricultural green terraces. Mark Tours organizes this excellent itinerary.
Snorkeling Excursion – Al Batinah Region charms visitors with the panoramic cliffs of Al Hajar Mountains and the underwater treasures along the Gulf of Oman. Daymaniyat Islands represent Oman’s Marine Nature Reserve consisting of nine uninhabited islands and serve as a preferred destination for scuba diving enthusiasts. The protected islands contain rich marine life, unique coral reef and nesting grounds for endangered turtles. The Coast of Bandar Khairan lies southeast to Muscat and encompasses protected bays that offer ideal conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving. The abundant marine life, stunning cliffs and crystal clear waters describe the Turtle’s Bay. Marina Shangri-La, situated just minutes away from Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, serves as marine center for dolphin trips, snorkeling adventures and scuba diving expeditions. A guided snorkeling trip by Extra Divers Qantab at Marina Shangri-La begins with a 20-minute boat ride along the rocky coastline. At the Turtle’s Bay, we encounter few green turtles while still on the boat. The sunny weather and turquoise sea water create perfect conditions to observe the abundant schools of fish, turtles and colorful corals.
Muscat – The Arabic architecture, picturesque Muscat Port and majestic Western Al Hajar Mountains define the landscape of Muscat. Oman’s capital city of Muscat serves as the governmental center and is located along the Gulf of Oman and within close proximity to Straits of Hormuz. Along the route, we observe the luxurious Al Bustan Palace and the Arabian wooden dhow of Sohar, a reminder of its historic voyage to China. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque reflects an architectural grandeur with striking white marble exterior and minaret at each corner. An interior décor reveals an extravagant main prayer room displaying beautiful Iranian carpet, Omani inspired wooden ceilings, Swarovski crystal chandelier and mosaic dome ceiling. When visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the visitors follow the tradition of conservative attire covering arms, legs and hair for women. We drive to the private museum of Bait Al Zubair Museum where we learn about the ancient village life, traditions and regional costumes. The drive to the Muttrah commercial quarter reveals the scenic corniche. The visit to the Muttrah Souk recreates the image of old Arabia with narrow streets and shops selling diverse products, including antique silver, gold jewelry, spices and textiles. In the Old Muscat quarter, the Sultan Qaboos’ Al Alam Palace provides views of majestic mountains and Portuguese Forts of Al Jalali and Al Mirani.
Bedouin Camp – The image of golden sand dunes stretching to the horizon presents the desert of Oman. The traditional desert life seems challenging to the westerners but nomadic lifestyle in the Middle East symbolizes tradition and freedom. In Oman, there are short-term and long-term desert expeditions that enable visitors to experience nomadic life. The Bedouin-style desert resorts offer an upscale desert lodging. Our one day expedition consists of sand dunes bashing, photographing the landscape and visit to a traditional Bedouin camp. The camp is constructed with date palms and has separate outdoor bathroom facilities and no electricity. Inside the Bedouin Camp, we observe open living space decorated with carpet on the floor, colorful pillows leaning against the walls, and handcrafts hanging on the walls. In traditional way, we are greeted with local dates and traditional strong coffee. As we meet the Bedouin family, we admire their colorful traditional costumes and wonder about this simple desert life.
Oman Lobster – The seasonal catch of the sea, Oman Lobster delivers succulent flavor, balanced texture and hint of sweetness. Oman’s coastline along the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea produces abundance of the fish. At our resort, the seafood restaurant serves a selection of the freshest regional fish and seasonal lobsters. We select traditionally prepared platter of grilled hamour fish (Arabian grouper) and Oman Lobster. The delicate fish texture and scrumptious Oman Lobster are prepared with a hint of fresh herbs and are served with simple lemon butter. These delicious gifts of the sea deliver freshness, simplicity and aroma of the Arabian Sea.
Shangri-La Al Husn Hotel – The beautiful cliffs and picturesque Gulf of Oman create a natural setting for Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa. The Shangri-La complex consists of three resorts: Al Waha Hotel, Al Bandar Hotel and Al Husn Hotel. Al Husn Hotel defines the ultimate luxury and serenity for couples with private beach access, private infinity pool, special breakfast restaurant, an afternoon tea and an evening cocktail hour accompanied by traditional music. The recommended deluxe sea view rooms on the higher floor offer stunning views of the sea and mountains. The spacious Shangri-La complex offers beautiful white sand beaches, water sports activities, relaxing lazy river floats and scenic walking pathways. The high-end restaurants serve Lebanese, seafood and continental cuisine. In the evening, an outdoor terrace becomes a lively dinner venue with live Arabic music and scents of traditional shisha (water pipe). Shangri-La Al Husn Hotel resembles an exotic Arabic Palace and serves as a convenient base to explore the jewels of Oman.