After we safely landet in Muscat, we directly went to the rental car station to pick up our 4×4 car. We spent the day doing some sightseeing around the old town and port of Muscat, where the royal yacht is based which is one of the three biggest yachts in the world. We also walked through the Souk an bought some little things for our family.
After we had our first humus for breakfast we started heading along the coast to Sur. Oman is not only known for its hot climate but also for beautiful canyons (Wadis) filled with crystal blue water and green plants. On the way to Sur we made a first stop at the Bimah Sinkhole which is an about twenty meter deep hole filled with turquoise water located in a very flat landscape.
As second stop we drove to one of the two most popular Wadis in Oman, Wadi Shams. At the entrance we had to park our car and take a boat over the river to start an one hour hike.
At the end of the hike we changed to our swimming gear and jumped into the wadi pools. As a special surprise and at the very last pool, we had to dive through two big stones to get into a secret cave with a waterfall. What we liked most about this Wadi is the combination of first a hike and then being able to swim through beautiful pools as a reward.
After rushing back to get the final boat over to the parking lot at 5pm, we drove safely to Sur. In Sur and when heading out for dinner, we were wondering why the streets felt to empty. After Oman won against Dubai in football, we knew the reason why… See the video for a taste of celebrating Omanis.
For the third day we had planned to go to the less popular Wadi Tiwi, which was recommend to us by a local police man the day before. After some research it seemed to be an easy hike of about 2-3 hours with a waterfall at the end of the canyon. As such, we slept a bit longer and enjoyed our breakfast in our nearly completely empty hotel (seems to be off-season). This time we had to drive by car at the edge of the canyon to get to the starting point of the hike. The way turned out to be much tougher than expected with a lot of twists and turns on extremely narrow “streets”- no chance without a 4×4. While our (or mainly Ninas, since she was driving) adrenaline level was peaking a couple of times, we survived until the end, parked our car on the street and walked down to the start of the hike.
We were surprised how much greener the Wadi is compared to Wadi Shams, but also that there was no real path to follow. So we made our way further into the canyon with 30m walls left and right to us ad climbing across large stones. After continuing for 3h, not having seen a single person. and having to continue the 3rd hour only in swimming gear, since we had to cross a large pool, we decided to turn back because we didn’t want to drive back during darkness.
When we came back to our hotel, we had checked on the exact location of the waterfall and the last large pool at the end of the wadi and we realized we missed it by about 100m. A pity, but even without it the day was perfect and exciting enough!
Day 4 started with another canyon, Wadi Bani Khalid, the most famous/touristy Wadi in Oman. When it comes to swimming, it’s the one we enjoyed most. Plus it also includes a free foot massage by the local fishes 🙂
After we’ve stayed until midday, we made our way to our personal highlight of our Oman trip – a night in the desert. We booked a night in a small Nomad family run camp. To get there we had to drive through the desert for a bit, but could luckily rely on our 4×4 car again (with deflated tires). Once we arrived, we went for a sunset camel trip. Riding on a camel is much more comfortable than it looks, but you need to really hold on tight to get up. In the end everything went well and no-one was lost in the desert.
As a last highlight of the day and after having dinner we watched the beautiful starlit sky and tried ourselves in taking pictures of the milky way.
The temperature in the desert falls very quickly. But we had a very cozy bed and slept very well this night (apart from mosquitos chasing Patrick). There is absolutely no noise and the stars were simply clear and beautiful. After we had a delicious Omani breakfast and a nice chat with some other tourists we took our way back out of the desert. We enjoyed the wadis and the loneliness in the nature so much over the last day that we decided to go once more for a hike at Wadi Bani Khalid. We had a beautiful afternoon, just the two of us. After some hours climbing across rocks we arrived at a nice pool where we took a break and had our last swim. It felt good washing off the sand and cooling down for a little bit.
We then drove to Nizwa where we arrived in the evening.
We woke up in Nizwa and left the hotel in the morning to discover the Souk (local market) and the fortress. On the top of the fort we had a great view over the town and the mountains. After spending the morning in Nizwa we hit the road towards Al Hamra. There we walked through a ghost town close to Al Hamra, full of ruins were no one lives any more. But unfortunately also full of garbage – seems like also Oman got some issues with their rubbish collection. On the same day we also drove to the impressing Al Hoota Cave. At the entrance you have to take a “high speed” train which brings you under earth. The cave is full of stalagmites and stalactites and impressingly huge and beautiful. Sadly, it’s not aloud taking any pictures inside. But everyone who knows Patrick… He’s not always following rules .
After getting back to the sun, we drove to our next destination, a camp at Jebel Shams (biggest mountain in Oman and the Arabian Peninsula).
After a freezing and short night in the mountain camp, the alarm woke us up early at 5.30. Luckily the coffee helped us to get ready to hike up to the top of Jebel Shams (3028m) that day. We started the W4 trail at 6:15 and got a first view at the canyon a bit after sunrise. The hike was going steadily up and we took a break at what we believed was the half way up at 4.5km. After a handful of dates and nuts we continued our mission…
We had read on the internet that the hike would be 9km in total, taking about 4-5h hours one way and difficulty 2 out of unknown. We learned that we should not listen always to the internet
At 9km the weather became foggy and we thought we were close to the top. After a couple of crises (low sugar level), we reached the top finally after 5.5h and 14km!!
Unfortunately, we could not really enjoy the stunning view because of the foggy weather and we also had to start our climb down to make it down before darkness.
As if a much longer than expected hike up was not enough, on the way down rain clouds came out of nowhere and seemed to chase us.
Luckily everything went well in the end and we arrived safely but exhausted after 11h at the camp. After eating half of the dinner buffet, we immediately feel asleep.
Day 8 & 9
We had a long good night sleep and took it easy in the morning after the busy last days. The only plan for the day was to drive back to Muscat and we decided to take a route through the mountains. As always during our travels in Oman the road turned out to be much less touristy than expected and we drove through some narrow mountain roads. From time to time we stopped to take some pictures of the spectacular views. After we passed the mountains we made one more stop at the Nakhal fortress, before arriving in Muscat in the evening. On the next morning and before taking the plane, we wanted to check out the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Unfortunately, we picked the wrong day and it was closed for non Muslims.
We both were really impressed about the beauty of Oman and all the different things one can do. We definitely can imagine to come back one day.