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Trip Report

Auckland Central...
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Trip Report

My husband and I spent 10 days in Oman during April, so I thought I might post a trip report from our point of view: late fifties, and I have very limited mobility because of arthritis in knees (I always appreciate reading others' reports about travelling with limited mobility, so perhaps others do too).

First: Oman Air. Great airline. We boarded in Bangkok, and the Oman Air staff were very helpful - asking if I would be able to manage the stairs out of the plane in Muscat, would I like any help etc. excellent service on the plane.

4 day/3 night tour arranged with Arabica Orient Tours. They were very very helpful when arranging the tour by email before we arrived. Listened to what we wanted, offered suggestions etc.

Out guide was fantastic - Sulaiman Bin Nasser Al-Rahdi - let me know if you would like his contact details as he is also a freelance guide. Speaks English fluently, widely travelled himself, brought up on Muscat, and very proud of his country. We were completely pleased with our trip with him.

Our trip was one night in 1000 Nights Camp in Wahiba Sands, and 2 nights at Golden Tulip Hotel, out of Nizwa.

Jebel Shams - we stopped at a lookout over the canyon. Out of the vehicle,and there it was, no walking. I had really only heard of people hiking at the canyon, so was apprehensive. No doubt the hikers get fabulous views from different vantage points, but I was extremely satisfied with our more limited view. Awe-inspiring.

Jebel Akhdar: we went to a few villages up the mountain, and my husband and our guide explored some of them, while I found a convenient place to sit and wait. I still had great views, and didn't feel I missed out an anything (even if I didn't see the big lizard that they did!). Felt safe at all times. Mid April and we saw some roses but not many. Got a fabulous whiff of their scent though, at a village that looks across at the terraces. :). What an engineering feat the road is! I can see exactly why you need a 4-wheel drive vehicle, and was intrigued to see the escape routes for vehicles that were having trouble with their brakes on the way down!

Travelled to Wahiba Sands via the coast road - stopped at the sinkhole (just looked from the top, I couldn't manage all those stairs). Stopped at the entrance to Wadi Shab, and drove along Wadi Tiwi to the village - what a beautiful place. Went to a dhow-building place at Sur, which was quite interesting, but not something I would go out of my way for.

Nizwa, Bahla, Misfat, Al Hamra.... I didn't manage to see much of the forts, Jabreen Castle and so on, because of a combination of the heat and the stairs. Just too much for me. However, I spent a fair bit of time in the museum/exhibition rooms at Nizwa Fort - very well done, thoroughly enjoyed it,

At Misfat, while I waited for husband and guide to explore, I met a very elderly local man who didn't speak English, however we laughed together at both of us using walking sticks, and shared a step while we both rested. Everyone we met was very friendly.

The houses in rural Oman are unique; or at least, we have never seen anything like them before. So beautiful, with great detailing. The painted windows on some them were amazing. Looking at the variety and beauty of the houses, and the variety of mosque minarets, made the drives fun.

The falaj systems were fascinating. The one at Birkat Al Mauz, a Unesco site (I think) was interesting to walk along, see the public showers etc.

Nizwa Goat and Cattle auction - Friday mornings. What a fun thing to do! Sure, there were quite a few other tourists, but many more local people there to buy or sell their goats and cattle. It was one the highlights of our trip. Tiny kids following long behind their mothers, cattle that didn't want to go around the auction circle and had to be pushed..... Being there among the local people going about their business was fantastic. Again, we found people to be so friendly to us - nods, smiles, welcomes.

Clothing: I wore long skirts the whole time, and tops with sleeves just past the elbow, our guide said that was no doubt one of the reasons I met so many friendly local people, because I was showing respect to their customs. I saw several other tourists with shorts, tank tops etc, who were ignored by the locals - I think they missed out on something pretty special.

Muscat: Big Bus (Hop On Hop Off). We enjoyed travelling around on this one day, seeing all the areas of Muscat it goes through. However we didn't get off much. Again, a combination of heat and the attractions were apparently some distance from most of the stops. There was no real information given about the sights - an informative leaflet and map would have been appreciated. The free water on the buses was certainly appreciated though! We had lunch at Shatti - Darcy's Kitchen was unexpected, enjoyable. And the food was great.

Royal Opera House. The guided tour was excellent; what an amazing building. I recommend taking the guided your, as the guide explains so much you would no idea about otherwise. Only a few stairs to negotiate.

Grand Mosque. A real highlight. We had been to the Blue Mosque in Instanbul, and several in Cairo - they are all very different, so don't leave this one off your itinerary thinking it will be more of the same. It's not just the mosque's main room, it's the whole place - gardens, side rooms, courtyards.... No stairs in the mosque, but a few outside between the entrance and the mosque, but not difficult. Unfortunately the coffee shop was closed, could have done with a sit down after so much walking at the mosque; however they had bottle water available, and we sat on the low walls around the trees at the entrance. Seats at the places where you take your shoes off would have been nice - I found it difficult to put them back on afterwards - but of course the mosque is not there to be a tourist attraction, is it!

Souks - went to Muttrah Souk - pretty touristy, though there were many local people there too. I didn't go far into it though - just too much walking in the heat for me.

Enjoyed the Nizwa souk however - past the touristy part which we went through without stopping much, we explored the vegetable, meat and fish souks. Much more interesting to us. Again, it was seeing the locals in their day to day business that was so interesting. The skill of the guys in the fish market, the smells and strange produce in the the vegetable souk.... I had never seen dried lemons before. And you must get some of the halwa at the end of the vegetable market. Yum!

Natural History Museum: small, but very enjoyable. A good overview of Oman's geography, geology and natural history. Don't miss the whale hall.

Oman - what a great country. It looks as though they decide to build something, then just dig away some of the hills to make room for it. We really enjoyed our time there, even if we did find it a bit too hot for us (mid April). I would choose a cooler time if we go again. I think my main tip (for women) is to wear suitable clothing, and to show respect - your experiences will be so much more than if you wear skimpy clothing that you would wear in other countries.

(Jeepers, I seem to have written a very long essay! Sorry :)

Muscat, Oman
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1. Re: Trip Report

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to write such a great trip report. It was a joy to read and lovely to hear that you enjoyed your time in Oman so much.

Muscat Governorate...
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for Muscat, Oman
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2. Re: Trip Report

Thank you very much for writing your report. Feels really happy to know that you have enjoyed Oman. Thanks.

Edinburgh, United...
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3. Re: Trip Report

I enjoyed reading your report. My wife has limited mobility also uses walking sticks. Can you please give us contact details of the tour operator chap and company? How much was cost of the tour? How many days was it? did you have early start? Thanks so much

Edited: 10 September 2014, 18:02
Germany
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4. Re: Trip Report

Thanks for the report. I always enjoy reading trip reports and compare with my own experience.

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Trip Report

Great report! I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your time in Oman, and also getting the perspective of someone with more limited mobility (and there will certainly be other readers who would benefit from it).

Favorite part: The halwa and fish market in the Nizwa souq! I always tell people to go try the halwa (its a personal favorite), and I never get tired of watching the guys who work in fish and meat markets. Some of the techniques are so different from everything that we're used to.

6. Re: Trip Report

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