A big thanks to my readers – this post won a surprise hamper from the Oman Tourism Board. 🙂 🙂
Culture and history – what a flavorsome mix that is! Stir with nature and garnish with photography. Now, this spells the perfect recipe Oman offers to me as a traveler and photographer.
My camera is a window I carry around– one that gives glimpses of the hidden beauty within the obviousness of the frame. Of the magical light filtering through an ancient structure, fragility of a flower lying on moss covered earth…
It is such mystic moments that I hope Oman will graciously offer when I visit.
With its stunning contrast of deserts, mountains and beaches, Oman’s natural vistas would be a dream to capture.
Its ethnically diverse population of Arabs, Balochis , Lurs, Swahilis, et al offers a fascinating cultural spread to survey. And within the walls of the Bahla Fort and the National Museum of Oman, I could absorb centuries of meticulously preserved history.
Featuring in Viator’s ‘World’s Top 50 travel destinations in 2014’, the country’s varied topography spoils the visitor for choice. Depending on your interest and physical fitness, you could enjoy turtle watching, hiking, scuba diving, water skiing, dolphin watching, desert camping, caving or even camel racing.
And, unlike a few other countries of the Arab world recently in news, Oman is a safe oasis for travelers. (For places to visit and other relevant info, click here – http://www.omantourism.gov.om )
Bandar Khayran seems like a particularly fascinating place to me.
Just imagining the boat trip with dolphins frolicking alongside, coral reefs below, terns circling overhead and green and hawksbill turtles swimming to shore makes me want to jump into this picture in my head. What’s more, I could put on scuba diving gear and look out for ‘Nemo’.
Adding to the draw is Oman Tourism Ministry’s initiative to promote eco-tourism. Guided by the revered Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said, the ministry is encouraging responsible tourism in this area. If you have read my previous posts, you would know that I am a true believer in the cause. So, I hope to pick up lessons in nature conservation too.
Oman is purportedly the only country in the world built mostly of oceanic crust and rocks from the earth’s mantle and its unique geological wonders (read caves) find a special mention in Lonely Planet. A ‘Rock Garden’ in the Al Wusta region features rocks of all sizes and colors shaped by geological forces. Wadis or dry valleys/river channels fill up during monsoon, making the brown of the jagged rocks stand out against the green of the water.
To view more such pictures, go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/omantourism
As for me, I would gladly fix a rendezvous with the insides of our world at the Al Hoota Cave near the Jabal Shams Mountain. For the not-so-adventurous such as yours truly, it is the easy way to admire rocky stalactites and stalagmites compared to the trek involved at other places. Following this up with a dip in the turquoise blue waters of the Bimmah Sink Hole, I would round up my subterranean experience with a ticklish pedicure by doctor fish in Muqal’s natural pools.
The child in me points to Sur next. For obvious reasons, I would not bump into Sindbad the Sailor (the mythical hero from the ‘The Thousand and One Nights’ tale) in the country of his supposed birth. That is no reason however, to stop me from watching the dhow artisans at work, building one of those majestic wooden ships that the intrepid sailor might have sailed in.
Not just to experience what it would be like to be in his (Sindbad’s) shoes, I would move on to Musandam, the spectacularly scenic peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf. Moving in the blue waters of the fjords, surrounded by the tall Hajar mountains, I would leisurely unwind in this ‘Norway of Arabia’ with a bowl of dates and laban (no kahwa for me please!).
What’s more – I could then paraglide into the Six Senses hotel at Ziggy Bay, which by far offers the most spectacular views of any hotel in the country. A short stay here to enjoy the renowned Arabian hospitality, and I would be ready to take a flight out of this country where beauty has found its address.
NOTE – This post has been written for a contest by the Oman Tourism Board for Indibloggers.
(Here is the link to the Omani Tourism Ministry’s official website – http://www.omantourism.gov.om)
OTHER USEFUL LINKS –
- For an introduction, basic visa info, getting around and general travel gyan (knowledge) – read here
- Of course you can look up Tripadvisor too, but I thought this was a pretty concise list of things to do and see in Oman- read here
- For more info on dive sites in Oman – read here
- Eat and drink – read here
- An interesting piece on the changing lives of people in the Musandam area – read here
- For one of my previous posts relating to the need for conservation of nature – read here