Oman - Roadtrip through the desert

It's the last country on this trip through the Middle East. The flight from Qatar to Oman was pleasantly short with the airport in Muscat very modern. A similar clean appearance as in many countries in this part of the world.  

Actually, I planned to combine Oman with Yemen, but it will be a while before Yemen can be traveled under normal circumstances. 

My visit to Oman was completely not what I expected. My expectations were problems, chaos, restrictions against tourists and difficulties while traveling around in the country. So I was even more surprised by the opposite that I encountered in Oman.

Even though Oman is right next to war-torn Yemen, none of this is noticeable in Oman and tourism in Oman is experiencing a big hype these years. When I read through the free Sunday newspaper at home and see offers for Oman trips in it, it says a lot about the good security in Oman. 

Day 1 - Having 5 days in Oman

During my visit Oman had very relaxed Covid entry requirements. Immigration was quick and after a few checks of the Covid tests and other form checks, everything was settled for leaving the airport.

I rented a car for the next five days and it's difficult to get around without anything like that. My route will be Musca - Nizwa - Sur - Muscat.

In Muscat there is no real center and the whole city is very spacious and nowhere is there is real street chaos or much of traffic jam. The roads are nice and clean, free of potholes and everything is well marked. Hotels are spread everywhere but from the airport after a 15 minutes drive, I was already in the middle of the sprawling center.

Day 2 - Muscat and surroundings

My day today was dedicated exclusively to Muscat.

However, since Muscat is very extensive and there is a lot to see, time was short. The first drive through the city of Muscat was along the coast and the streets, which are filled with the most beautiful houses in Muscat. There was also the opera house.

Forts here, Forts there, Forts everywhere

Further east was the Mutrah district with the Corniche. One could say this is the center of Muscat because here is a kind of promenade and probably most tourists in the capital cavort. 

The biggest Fort seemed to be the Mutrah Fort.

Quiet Muscat Corniche

Along the coast there are many forts. However, the most famous and largest one is on the Corniche. The road continues to the east and there are many forts, many other castles and typical buildings of Omani architecture.

The further east, the more mountains

The further the road goes the less houses are to be seen, but the more mountains. Mountains that I would not have expected in this part of the world but therefore seemed all the more spectacular.

A lot of mountains and nice valleys.

Al Mirani Fort and Al Jalali Fort. Very beautiful areas.

Up the mountain on the highway to Qantab Heights. Small bay surrounded by Omani mountain formations. Very unique, never seen something similar anywhere in the world.

Qantab Heights is a local town with a beach in a bay.

Day 3 - Roadtrip to Nizwa

My plan for the next two days was a road trip first to Nizwa then to Sur and then back to Muscat.

I started today after the Covid test, which was necessary to travel back home in a few days. Due to the delay, I could start in the afternoon towards Nizwa and had to wait. 

The drive to Nizwa took 3 hours with a few stops.

Driving in Oman with perfect road conditions

Driving in Oman is very pleasant and the roads feel like in Western Europe. Everything is well built, maintained and signalized.

The further out of Muscat the less traffic (but even in Muscat there was very little traffic). There are fixed radar installations every 5 kilometers which were "armed" randomly.

GPS with Google Maps did not always seem to work properly all over Oman.

On the way to Nizwa there is still an old residential area with a kind of decayed castle and settlement with ruins. 

It surprised me that I could walk these spectacular ruins without any guidance and all this without paying admission. But probably this will only be a question of time and the more tourists come here, they will start requesting entrance fee.

The scenery is nice when driving towards Nizwa.

Fort Nizwa

Further to Nizwa to the Nizwa Fort. The fort was a huge fort where they defended the Omanis.

It sas many cool traps and protective chambers. Entrance fee 5 OMR, which was quite expensive for these conditions compared to free visiting the ruins earlier in the afternoon.

Day 4 - Through the desert towards Sur

I started early in the morning via the town Sinaw, but Google Maps really does not work properly here. Had to make a detour through the desert for 50 Km. Although it was nice and roads were mostly well, except for a few districts where there are many bumps and braking waves come out of nowhere.

Drive to Wadi Bani Khalid. An oasis in the middle of the mountains. From the main road it was 45 minutes to the car park up in the mountain.

Probably the most famous attraction in Oman - Wadi Bani Khalid

Arrived at 10:30am and already a few cars were there. When I was leaving, however, there were about 100 cars parked. It also reflected the number of crowds and it's probably the most famous place in Oman for tourists.

Gorge with water in it. Fishes nibbling off the cornea. Green clear water. White rocks.

The hike through the valley is through big stones and small slopes of water. 

Hiking up the valley could last for hours as it seems neverending, but I stopped and returned after 45 minutes and returned.

Continue to Sur. 

From Wadi Bani Khalid to Sur it's also a nice ride.

In the city Sur

Spent the night there. Arrived at 13:30 felt like a ghost town. But they apparently take a break from 13:00 to 16:00 to sleep and eat.

There was a lighthouse and also the three castles by the sea were special.

Also, there's a stretch of a sea promenade in this bigger city.

To eat there are everywhere restaurants with kebabs and Shawarmas or chicken. In any case, so much food from the grill with lots of pita bread.

Day 5 - Along the coast from Sur back to Muscat

The last day in Oman. I left early in the morning to arrive early enough in Muscat.

Once again I had to do a PCR test in Muscat, because I calculated the times wrong and would be at the airport tomorrow with an expired test. Fortunately, the hospitals have the ability to evaluate the PCR tests within 6 hours and so I could make the test today while also receiving it today.

A stop at Wadi Shab

The 3-hour drive back from Sur to Muscat was pleasant. All highways are well maintained and there are very few cars. I also made stops in Wadi Shab and the Bimmah Sinkhole. 

The hole in the ground at Bimmah Sinkhole

The Bimmah Sinkhole is a fenced park with opening hours and in the middle of the park is the sinkhole stairs down to the water.

Day 6

Around midnight I drove back to the airport to drop off the car and take the flight back home.

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