This vibrant itinerary combines some of the highlights of northern Oman, including the capital city of Muscat, the vast desert of Wahiba Sands and the dramatic forts and hidden villages around Nizwa in the stunning Hajar Mountains.
Louise’s Top 5 Reasons to Visit Oman
Oman is a country with dramatic landscapes, magnificent forts, vast empty deserts, rugged mountain ranges and stunning coastlines. Imagine India specialist Louise has travelled extensively throughout the country and is very passionate about this little known Middle East destination. We have asked her to whittle down her ideas to come up with the top five reasons why Oman should be your next holiday destination…
1. Traditional Culture
Prior to my first visit to Oman, I imagined it to be akin to neighbouring Dubai, but how wrong I was. Oman is very traditional in style and culture and there is not a skyscraper in sight. I loved learning about the traditional cultures that are still very much intact. My very knowledgeable guide gave me a great insight into the country’s rich culture, and I also gained a great deal by being able to interact with the locals. Be sure to immerse yourself in the local culture – visit the bustling souks, have a coffee with a Bedouin family and learn all about their rural way of life, or visit the Friday Cattle Market in Nizwa, which I think is a must for anyone who wants a real taste of Bedouin culture.
2. Adventure Playground
Not only is Oman a great beach destination, it is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. Whether you want to paraglide into your hotel, learn desert survival skills, go trekking high up in the mountains or go dune bashing in Wahiba Sands, there is something for everyone. On my last trip, I was blown away by the incredible scenery on the off road drives in the Al Hajar mountains, and this is something we can certainly incorporate into any of our tailor-made itineraries.
When picking your holiday destination, the weather always plays an important part of when and where you go, as the last thing you want is rain! There are not many places where sunshine is guaranteed, but Oman is pretty much as close as you can get to this. The best time to visit is between October and April, as the summer months are unbearably hot and the desert camps close. In December and January the temperature does drop to the low 20s and there is a small chance of the odd downpour, but it is still a great place to visit, especially if you are looking to do more than lie on the beach.
Travel times are an important factor when it comes to booking a holiday, and at Imagine India, many of our holidays are a long way from the UK and require you to commit to a couple of weeks away. As the dark and cold UK winter draws in, if you want to hop on a plane and find warmth and sunshine without travelling half way round the world, then Oman is the place for you. A big part of the appeal is that Muscat is only a seven hour flight from London. BA and Oman Air both offer daily direct flights, making it an easy journey. With only a four hour (GMT) time difference, you don't really need to worry about jet lag either.
5. Unique Hotels
What I love about Oman is that tourists aren’t abundant. As a result, there isn't a huge choice of hotels, but what is on offer is unique and really rather special. Our favourite hotels really maximise their dramatic locations, ensuring diverse itineraries that help create a trip of a life time.
I’ve picked my top property in the country’s capital, mountains, desert and on the beach:
Muscat in Style - The Chedi
In Muscat it is hard to pick a favourite, but if you are after style, spa and glamour then The Chedi is the place for you. A contemporary hotel that is as close as you can get to 'boutique' in Oman, The Chedi is located between the Boushar Beachfront and the Hajar Mountains in Muscat. The hotel is stylishly decorated with sophisticated fabrics and furnishings, all with a Far Eastern influence. With three fabulous swimming pools, bordered by palm trees and with views over the ocean, there is no shortage of places to sit back and relax. It has a number of excellent restaurants and a wonderful spa too. The Chedi is a popular hangout for ex-pats and has a real buzz each evening.
Mountain Luxury - Alila Jabal Akdhar
Up in the rugged Al Hajar Mountains, nothing beats the Alila Jabal Akdhar. If you are looking for the wow factor, then this fabulous hotel perched 2000m above sea level is the hotel for you. The hotel overlooks a dramatic gorge and the panoramic views on offer here are simply breath-taking. After a day out exploring the surrounding mountains, old uninhabited villages, caves and canyons, relax at the spa, take a dip in the pool or cosy up round the log fire.
Desert Escape - Wahiba Sands
The desert offers something different again; if you are feeling adventurous then I highly recommend getting off the beaten track and camping in style amongst the rolling sand dunes of Wahiba Sands. Splash out and stay in a private luxury camp that is set up in a remote location solely for you. It is brilliantly run and accompanied by such stunning landscapes that it is a truly magical experience. Stay in traditional Bedouin style tents and feast on delicious Arabian specialties around the camp fire each evening.
Beach Getaway - Zighy Bay
If you are looking for a remote, luxurious beach getaway then you will love Zighy Bay. This fabulous hotel encompasses everything that the Six Senses brand stands for: rustic charm, excellent service and a perfect haven for relaxation. It is the epitome of barefoot luxury and it is designed in the style of an Omani Village, with stylish pool villas and an impressive sweeping beach. It is located in the Musandam Peninsula and is actually accessed via Dubai Airport.