Coastal Oman

Coastal Oman (8 days / 7 nights)


DAY 01: ARRIVAL TO MUSCAT AND TRANSFER TO THE HOTEL **SALON CAR / MINIVAN**

Arrival in MCT International Airport. Meet and greet on arrival.
Private transfer to the hotel and check in **VIP standard check in time is 14:00 HRS**.
Overnight at Shangri la Al Waha hotel, 5* beach hotel, Al Waha superior room incl. BB


DAY 02: MUSCAT CITY TOUR - AFTERNOON SUNSET CRUISE **SALON CAR / MINIVAN**

Breakfast at the hotel
08:00 am - pick up from the hotel


THE SULTAN QABOOS GRAND MOSQUE

Not to be missed whilst in Muscat, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a breathtaking and thoroughly original example of modern Islamic architecture. For many the muted shades and understated elegance of its exterior, which hide the sheer scale and opulence, found within make it the most beautiful mosque in the world. Opened by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said in May 2001, the mosque can hold over 20,000 worshippers in its prayer halls, courtyards and passageways. Feast your eyes on the treasures within - the enormous hand-woven carpet lying in the main prayer hall and the magnificent Swarovski chandelier that hangs from the central dome bathing the room in an exquisite light - both of which are amongst the largest in the world. Make some time to visit the fascinating library and look at the intricate mosaic designs in the outer corridors, which are equally charming. At night the mosque is tastefully lit against the dark sky and is a treat to behold.


MUTRAH - A SLICE OF OMANI LIFE

This old center of Oman's trade boasts an enchanting mix of old and new: in busy Port Sultan Qaboos you will see rickety old fishing dhows tied up alongside cruise liners and vast cargo ships gleaming in the sunshine; in the souq you will find stalls selling the finest Omani incense and ornate silver khanjars amongst many other treasures. The main drag of the souq retains the hustle, the bustle, the smells and the sounds of the old market but also seek out the rambling streets and dusty shops which spread out behind the souq and use your bartering skills to pick up some spices, nuts, jewelry, scarves or souvenirs to take home. With its magnificent mountain backdrop the cornice curving around the natural sea harbor is a great place to take a leisurely stroll or relax with a fruit juice absorbing the Mutrah life and the buzz of daily life. There are winding alleyways to explore and the intricate Lawati Mosque and old Portuguese merchants' houses to photograph. Early risers should also arrange a visit to the fish market where between 6 and 10am you can see local fishermen selling their daily catch. The market operates as it has for centuries with an ever changing array of seafood spread out on concrete slabs by swarthy old fishermen who then bundle it into bags for customers to take home. Drive the old road behind Riyam park to get some great views or take a two hour hike along the ancient pathway in the Ophiolite hills. Seek out the history museum at Bait al Baranda at one end of the corniche and Ghalaya's Museum of Modern Art at the other.


A CULTURAL EXPERIENCE AT BAIT AL ZUBAIR MUSEUM

A collection of marvelous treasures, which paint a picture of Oman long ago. Located in old Muscat this beautiful old townhouse was converted into a museum by the Zubair family in 1998. Since then it grown into a network of rooms and galleries exhibiting all manner of wonderful things. It houses a wealth of old coins, weaponry, jewelry, pottery, furniture and clothing which give a alluring glimpse into the Omani past. Outside in the courtyard you can see an example of an old village with a functioning falaj system - critical to cultivation in days gone by and still used by farmers in the interior today. In addition to its collection of artifacts, Bait al Zubair has also become a leading center.


MUSCAT OLD TOWN

Its harbor still guarded by the ancient twin forts of Jalali and Mirani, old Muscat is the small administrative center of the Sultanate where, until as recently as 1970, the city gates would lock the walled city at nightfall. See the old city gates and parts of the wall which have been restored, wander up the promenade towards the striking architecture of Al Alam Palace, one of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said's official residences and visit the old harbor with its centuries old stone sentinels. Those in search of some historical facts and figures will find several museums: as well as Bait al Zubair, there is the Omani- Franco museum and the Muscat Gate Museum and, opening in late 2014, the much anticipated National Museum.

Estimate arrival time is approx. 12:00 - 12:30
15:00 pm - pick up from the hotel


EXPLORE MUSCAT BY SEA

Why not end your day with a cruise along the splendid Muscat coast, seeing many of the sights from a different angle whilst relaxing with a drink or even dinner? For your vessel, you can choose between a modern catamaran or a traditional fishing dhow.
At the end of a hectic workday, busy day, visiting, new to the area or a local who just wants to remember the beautiful area we live in, please join us aboard and experience the sea as we quietly cruise along these unspoiled waters.
On this cruise, about two hours in length, we do only light narration so that you can just relax and enjoy. As you gaze out across the sea, you'll marvel at the changing colors of the sky and the horizon emblazoned in shades of fiery gold, red and pink. Then, just as the sun sets, we'll sail along the shoreline near the Muscat, where the delicate mix of hues painting the city give you the chance to photograph the Old Town glistening in dramatic color.

Estimate arrival time is approx. 18:00 - 18:30
Overnight at Shangri la Al Waha hotel, 5* beach hotel, Al Waha superior room incl. BB


DAY 03: MUSCAT - QURIYAT - WADI DAYQAH - WADI ARBAEEN - BIMAKH SINKHOLE **4WD**

Breakfast at the hotel and check out
08:00 am - pick up from the hotel


QURIYAT AND WADI DAYQAH

'Quriyat' is the plural of Quriya meaning village, so called because, although a modestly sized town, it is a collective of around 30 distinct communities. It sits on the coast 80km from Muscat, an old fishing port that boasts a pretty seafront and harbor and an attractive 200-year-old fort - another one that has recently reopened after substantial renovation. Not far from the town is the impressive Wadi Dayqah Dam, which was completed in 2012 in a bid to assist with the management of the limited water resources in the Sultanate. In Oman's predominantly arid landscape it is a wonder to see such an enormous body of clear blue water.


WADI ARBAEEN

An untouched haven of water and mountains, Wadi Arbaeen owes much of its undisturbed beauty to the fact that it lies off the main drag and therefore its visitors are limited. After a short bumpy ride through pools and over boulders you will find yourself in the midst of tranquil nature with little but birdsong and the splash of tiny waterfalls to disturb you. Relax and enjoy the clear refreshing pools or take a walk deeper into the wadi to find yourself even further from humanity.

LUNCH AT LOCAL RESTAURANT OR PICNIC LUNCH BOX


THE BIMMAH SINKHOLE

Recently mooted as the most beautiful sinkhole in the world, the cerulean waters of Bimmah Sinkhole attract thousands of visitors every year. It was created by the collapse of a soft limestone ceiling in an underground cavern which is rather less poetic than the Arabic name of 'Meteor Fall Park' suggests. The sinkhole is a beautiful natural phenomenon and a great place to stop for photos or a quick swim.

Estimate arrival time is approx. 15:00 - 15:30
Overnight at Wadi Shab Beach resort, 3* beach resort, Deluxe room incl. HB


DAY 04: WADI SHAB - FINNS BEACH - WADI TIWI - SUR - RAS AL HADD **4WD**

Breakfast at the hotel and check out
08:00 am - pick up from the hotel


WADI SHAB

Cutting a narrow, deep slice through the mountain Wadi Shab offers visitors a charming walk through the village past impossibly blue pools of water, date and banana plantations, terraced fields and an inventive falaj system. For those who are a little braver, keep going over boulders and along narrow paths, past abandoned villages and deeper pools until you find yourself at the water source.


WHITE SANDS BEACH

A beautiful small stretch of beach with gleaming white sand and sapphire waters interrupts the rocky coastline not far from Wadis Shab and Tiwi. If you wish to venture into the water, the snorkeling is great but if you would simply like to stretch your legs this is a wonderful place for beachcombing.

LUNCH AT LOCAL RESTAURANT OR PICNIC LUNCH BOX


WADI TIWI

Similar in form to Wadi Shab this wadi has the advantage of being discoverable by vehicle. You can wind your way through the, sometimes narrow, wadi enjoying the plantations and the pools from the comfort of your car. As in Wadi Shab, birds and butterflies abound and you will be given some fantastic photo opportunities.


THE SUR DHOW FACTORY

The old town of Sur faces out to the sea from whence its fortunes came. As the capital of the Sharqiya region, it has an illustrious past as one of the most important ports in the region, a key point of trade with East Africa and India. The forts and watchtowers, which circle the town, give a hint at its past significance. Head to the harbor to find its main attraction, the traditional dhow building yard that still manufactures wooden boats as it has for hundreds of years. Oman is immensely proud of its maritime heritage and, although demand has decreased, Sur still makes boats for customers all over the world, which are proof of the quality of their workmanship. The yard is a laid back place which you may wander around at your leisure.


RA'AS AL HADD - HOME OF THE TURTLES

The stunning beaches of Ra'as al Hadd are not only appealing to Oman's human visitors. Many turtles visit the most easterly point of the Sultanate to lay their precious eggs every year. To see these massive aquatic animals lumbering onto the shore to lay their eggs and to see the hundreds of tiny hatchlings scuttling down to the sea are rare sights indeed. Oman takes its responsibility seriously with regard to regulation and management of this phenomena and visitors are asked to respect the strict rules regarding photography of and interference with the turtles. You will stay in a nearby hotel and will then be driven to one of the nesting sites in the early morning to get your best chance of seeing the turtles in action.

Estimate arrival time is approx. 15:00 - 15:30
Overnight at Turtle Beach resort, 3* beach resort Hamoor non sea view room incl. HB


DAY 05: RAS ALL HADD - THE INLAND TOWNS - WADI BANI KHALID - WAHIBA SANDS - MUSCAT **4WD**

Breakfast at the hotel and check out
08:00 am - pick up from the hotel


THE INLAND TOWNS

Echoes of the prosperity and significance of Ibra strategically situated on the old trade route between Muscat and Sur and onward to East Africa and India can still be felt in the old quarter through the remains of its stately mud brick mansions, numerous mosques and watchtowers. There is an ancient mosque which has two Qibla (directions in which to pray) - one towards Mecca and one towards Jerusalem. This is testament to Oman's early adoption of Islam as it was during the Prophet Mohammed's lifetime that prayer was redirected from Jerusalem to Mecca. The old town of Al Kamil sits, surrounded by trees, on the Muscat to Sur highway where it forks east to Sur and south to Al Ashkara. An attractive place with crumbling watchtowers and a nice souq, the recent addition of the Castle Museum to Al Kamil makes a welcome break in your journey. This restored grand old family house is an eccentric but fascinating place packed full of objects collected by the family over the years. Travel further down highway to experience the authentic appeal of Jalan Bani Bu Hassan. Here you will find a simple mosque topped with no less than 52 domes.


WADI BANI KHALID

Water flows all year round in this very beautiful and popular natural retreat. A zigzag drive up the mountainside will get you to the entrance of this long river bed populated with villages and fertile plantations. The water flowing from several springs collects in deep, clear pools that are made easily accessible by a series of paths and bridges. You may swim but remain respectful to the local people by staying well covered. As long as the water levels are not too high you can explore further into the undeveloped parts of the wadi and, not for the faint hearted, take some sturdy walking shoes and a torch and seek out the Moqal Cave.

LUNCH AT LOCAL RESTAURANT OR PICNIC LUNCH BOX


BE MESMORISED BY THE WAHIBA SANDS

A trip into the Wahiba (or Sharqiya) Sands is the perfect way to get taste of storybookArabian desert. The rosy, windswept, ever moving dunes of the Sands are everything you imagine they will be. Bedu families still exist here eking out a traditional nomadic existence raising livestock with little but an exceptional understanding of the harsh environment in which they live. Living an incredible life far removed from that of most Omanis, the Bedu women are bold, brightly dressed and often to be seen behind the wheel of an ancient pick up hurtling up and down dunes. Whilst in the Sands with us you will get a glimpse of this lifestyle when you share coffee and dates with a Bedu family, look at some of the handicrafts made by the family and maybe have some henna painting done. You can also choose to so some 'Dune Bashing' - hurtling around the dunes in a 4WD handled by an experienced desert driver. If you wish to overnight in one of the well-equipped desert camps, you will see the desert at its most glorious as the sun sets and get the chance to go for a camel ride.

Estimate arrival time is approx. 16:00 - 16:30
Overnight at Shangri la Al Waha hotel, 5* beach hotel, Al Waha superior room incl. BB


DAY 06: MUSCAT - NIZWA - AL HAMRA - BAHLA - JABREEN - MUSCAT **SALON CAR / MINIVAN**

Breakfast at the hotel
08:00 am - pick up from the hotel


NIZWA: THE FORT AND SOUQ

Rising from the lush greenery and dates palms fed by the longest falaj system in the country, Nizwa city is a great place to spend the morning. You can not miss Nizwa Fort, an impressive piece of 17th century architecture whose 40m central tower soars above the rest of the building. Clamber up to the top for glorious views of the city and mountains beyond. Pay a visit to Nizwa Souq, which remains central to the life of the city providing locals with their daily needs and the souvenir-hunting visitor with Omani silver, halwa and excellent Khanjars. Although it is open every day, if you can manage it head to Nizwa Souq on a Friday morning when you will see the wonderful commotion of the goat and cattle auctions, a truly authentic experience.


AL HAMRA AND BAIT AL SAFAH

Driving into the well-preserved mountain town of Al Hamra is like stepping into a time warp. Traditional mud brick houses line winding, stony alleyways making it a great place to wander imagining how much, or how little, life must have changed. Whilst you're there pay a visit to Bait as Safah the traditional house which has been beautifully restored and turned into a living museum. Local ladies will show you the age-old methods of grinding coffee and flour, making bread and pressing oil.

LUNCH AT LOCAL RESTAURANT OR PICNIC LUNCH BOX


BAHLA: THE FORT AND ITS POTTERS

It is rumored that the potters of Bahla have magic in their fingers and, whether this is true or not, this small town just 40km from Nizwa is well worth a visit. It is home to one of Oman's biggest and most elaborate forts and the only one inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The site is believed to have accommodated a fort since pre-Islamic times but the present-day structure was built in the 13th century and extensively rebuilt in the 1600s. It was then closed for extensive renovation and reopened at the end of 2012. It is an enormous structure, which could occupy you for several hours if you wish to explore its rooms, towers, Mosques and wells in detail. Outside the Fort walls take a leisurely stroll amongst some of the fine old houses keeping your eyes peeled for sections of the ancient city walls. And then to those magic craftsmen, Bahla's potters dominate the lovely old Souq where the distinctive earthenware pottery and the tiny workshops that produce it can be found at every turn.


JABREEN CASTLE: OMAN'S MOST SPLENDID

Standing alone on an empty plain, stark against the Jebel Akhdar mountain range in the background, Jabreen Castle will creep into your imagination as soon as you lay eyes on it. Widely regarded as Oman's most splendid castle, it was built during a period of peace, and its simple majesty reflects that. It is less fortified than other castles in the country and gives one the sense of calm, contemplation and of being a home recently abandoned. In reality it was only inhabited for a couple of decades before being deserted and sinking into disrepair until recent years. It is not a 'museum-style' place, full of artifacts and trinkets to look at but this is more than made up for by its exquisite design features unmatched in Oman and something a little bit magical which is hard to put your finger on.

Estimate arrival time is approx. 16:00 - 16:30
Overnight at Shangri la Al Waha hotel, 5* beach hotel, Al Waha superior room incl. BB


DAY 07: DOLPHIN WATCHING AND SNORKELING - AFTERNON AT LEISURE

Breakfast at the hotel
07:00 am / 09:00 am - pick up from the hotel
Your day will start on the water with a dolphin watching trip.


EXPLORE MUSCAT BY SEA

You don't have to travel far from land to find yourself surrounded by countless dolphins dancing in the waters around your boat. The Sea OF Oman is heavily populated with a variety of dolphins and an early morning boat trip is an excellent way to experience them at close quarters. Leaving from Marina Bandar Al Rowdha your boat captain will be talking.

Afternoon at leisure.
Overnight at Shangri la Al Waha hotel, 5* beach hotel, Al Waha superior room incl. BB


DAY 08: DEPARTURE TRANSFER **SALON CAR / MINIVAN**

Breakfast at the hotel
TBA - check out from the hotel (standard check out time is before 12:00 noon)
TBA - pick up from the hotel and private departure transfer to Muscat Int'l APT to fly home.