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Oman: a country of contrasts

15/09/2017

The Sultanate of Oman is an intoxicating mix of the modern and the traditional, and each of our three Omani ports – Khasab, Muscat and Salalah – offers visitors a completely unique experience

The fjords near Khasab, Oman

The fjords near Khasab, Oman

With its traditional architecture and spectacular natural beauty, Oman stands in contrast to its glitzier Middle Eastern neighbours. Our Dubai & Arabian Gulf fly-cruises stop at three ports in Oman – Khasab, Muscat and Salalah. Each one offers a unique travel experience, from palaces and forts to sandy beaches, bustling cities to majestic fjords (yes, fjords). Leave your preconceptions behind and discover the magic of this one-of-a-kind destination.

 

Kayaking in the fjords of Khasab

 

With its towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters, the fjords of the port city of Khasab – the capital of Oman’s Musandam Peninsula – bear no small resemblance to those in Norway. In fact, Khasab is sometimes dubbed the ‘Norway of Arabia’ due to its fjord-like craggy inlets and mountain-lined coast, and like its Scandinavian counterpart, the region is an adventurer’s paradise. Mountain safaris reveal incredible views across the region, while kayaking tours are a great way to see the magnificent coastline from a different perspective. Alternatively, you could relax on a dhow cruise, soaking up the sun and snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters off Telegraph Island – if you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins. 

 

For a different kind of adventure, the small but vibrant city of Khasab offers plenty of urban excitement. Visit the city’s old and new souks to bag yourself a bargain, or explore the well-preserved 17th-century Khasab Fort and its inner museum, which offers a fascinating window into local history and culture. 

 

Metropolitan marvels in Muscat

 

As the capital of the Sultanate of Oman, Muscat has all the comforts of a bustling, modern city while retaining its old-world feel. First on any traveller’s must-do list should be a tour of the city’s traditional architecture, which can be found in its mosques, forts and palaces. Try the Muscat Impressions shore excursion, which stops at the Sultan’s Palace, the Bait Al Zubair Museum, the Muttrah Souk and the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which can accommodate 20,000 worshippers.

 

Oman’s traditional wooden dhows were once used to sail the sea routes between Oman, India and Iran. Today, you can get a taste of this history by taking a dhow cruise along the Muscat coastline, where you can relax and soak up the scenery of rugged mountains and cliffs from the water as you snack on delicious dates and kawah (Arabic coffee).

 

While Muscat offers myriad metropolitan pleasures, there’s also plenty of natural beauty to be enjoyed just outside the city. Take a trip out to the verdant Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountains for a breath of fresh air, or head to Wahiba Sands, just a couple of hours from the city, to experience the beauty of a true desert landscape. 

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman can accommodate 20,000 worshippers

Spectacular scenery in Salalah

 

The lush landscape and picture-perfect beaches of Salalah may not be what one imagines when thinking of the Arabian Gulf. Located on the country’s southern coast, the city – the second-largest in Oman – enjoys a slightly cooler climate and a monsoon season that results in a gorgeous green terrain. Explore the idyllic Wadi Darbat region and take a relaxing stroll along the Wadi bed, home to herds of camels, goats, cattle and donkeys, and the natural springs at Ain Razat, where you can enjoy the views of the cave face and landscape by the springs. For sunseekers, Salalah’s beaches are stunning, and the region is home to a number of luxurious waterfront resorts.

 

History buffs are spoilt for choice, as many famous and fabled historic figures are reputed to have lived in the city. Visit the resting place of the biblical prophet Job, explore what was once the palace of the Queen of Sheba, or stroll through the lost city of Samhuran or the crumbling remains of Al Bilad. The region is perhaps most famous for its abundance of frankincense, the distinctive fragrance of which wafts throughout the region. The Job’s Tomb and Sights tour explores many historic sites and also visits the Frankincense Museum.

 

 

For more on Dubai & Arabian Gulf fly-cruises, click here

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