The Majestic Mountains of Oman

The Majestic Mountains of Oman (7 days / 6 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 Muscat Holiday Hotel, 4* city hotel, Standard room incl. BB


DAY 02: FULL DAY MUSCAT CITY TOUR **4WD**

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.


MAKE A SPLASH AT WADI AL KHOUD

A world away from city life, get the chance to settle under some shade near the village to relax and watch the colorful birds, have a cooling dip in the pools and streams which are plentiful in the winter months or take a thrilling drive deeper into the Wadi splashing and sliding through the water. The delightful village of Al Khoud is just 20 minutes from Muscat International Airport and is the perfect place to experience a bit of rural Oman without venturing too far from the city. The Wadi, or river bed, is a huge valley which stretches for many kilometers but you can choose to explore as little or as much as you wish.

LUNCH AT LOCAL RESTAURANT


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 6am 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 cornice 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. 15:00 - 15:30
Overnight at Muscat Holiday Hotel, 4* city hotel, Standard room incl. BB


DAY 03: MUSCAT - BARKA FISH MARKET - NAKHL - RUSTAQ - JABEL SHAMS **4WD**

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

You will be picked up from your hotel at the morning and driven to Barka to see the Fish Souq in full swing. Cherish the date palm plantations on the road to Nakhl where you will enjoy the warm waters of the Thowara Spring, see the impressive falaj system and wander around the highest fort in Oman. After a picnic or lunch in a local restaurant, you will head through a break in the Jebel and into Wadi Bani Auf. Enjoy the scenery and the thrilling drive as you venture further into the wadi until you reach the charming, tranquil village of Bilad Sayt where you can enjoy a gentle walk around the beautiful houses and terraces.


BARKA FISH SOUQ

Little more than a large canopy standing virtually on the beach, an early morning visit to Barka's fabulous fish market is a great way to start a trip to Al Batinah region. Open every morning, the market teems with fishermen trading their early morning catch; tuna, hamour, mullet, sardines, squid and, if you're in the right season, Omani lobsters and prawns. Auctioneers command the crowd from a dedicated area selling the bigger fish and around the market fruit and vegetable sellers set up stalls to tempt the passing custom. Make sure you get up early to see this delightful place and experience a slice of Oman unchanged.


NAKHL: THE FORT AND THE TEMPTING WARM WATER SPRING

Nakhl means 'date palm' and as soon as you ascend to any height you will see why; the old town sits amid vast swathes of rich green date plantation. The finest Omani dates come from here farmed using very long, sophisticated irrigation systems which ensure the water is distributed throughout the town. Dip your feet into the warm waters of the famous Thowara Spring and see the water source itself and the locals swimming in the shady pools. Make your way back through the old part of the town to the imposing Nakhl Fort, the highest fort in Oman. This is a charming old building to explore and there are some glorious views from the higher ramparts.


RUSTAQ: THE FORT AND THE HEALING HOT WATERS

Rustaq is a sprawling town famous for its ancient fort, the exceptional honey made nearby and healing hot waters. The Al Kisfr Hot Springs run at 45°C are known for their healing properties particularly beneficial for rheumatism and skin problems. After a look at the springs wind your way through the town's old quarter, noting the henna trees growing there, to see the commanding edifice of Rustaq Fort. The fort as we now know it was built in the 17th century on the site of the 13th century fort Qalat Al Kisra and it was a prominent site for religious learning in Oman for many years. The newly renovated building is an imposing one, constructed over three levels and watched over by four towers.

LUNCH AT LOCAL RESTAURANT OR PICNIC LUNCH BOX


WADI GHUL, WADI NAKHER AND JEBEL SHAMS: OMAN'S GRAND CANYON

The two wadis slice through rock to create a vast, deep gorge in the shadow of Jebel Shams - the highest peak in the Sultanate - to create Oman's Grand Canyon, the most dramatic natural feature in a country which has many on offer. Driving from Nizwa you will stop at Ghul first. See the ancient abandoned villages on the hillside before you continue along the wadi bed to Wadi Nakher with Jebel Shams, or the Sun Mountain towering above you. The drive from Nizwa around the flanks of the mountain and up to the peak will take you around an hour and a half. Once at the top the views of the very scale of the great chasm created by Wadis Nakher and Ghul below is mind-blowing. There is virtually nothing manmade anywhere in sight but take time to look for the giveaway wisps of smoke from the tiny villages which lie almost imperceptible in the wadis below and watch the Egyptian vultures circling high on the thermals. Visit the tiny village of Khateem clinging to the rocks to look at the goat wool rugs and trinkets made up here on the mountain. Go for a short stroll to absorb rugged, desolate beauty of the place, or take a more serious trek down into the Canyon to the deserted village of Sab

Estimate arrival time is approx. 16:00 - 16:30
Overnight at Jabel Shams resort, Mountain resort, Sunset chalet incl. HB


DAY 04: JABEL SHAMS - AL HAMRA - BAIT AL SAFAH - BIRKAT AL MAUZ - JABEL AKHDAR **4WD**

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


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


JEBEL AKHDAR: THE GREEN MOUNTAIN

The personality of Jebel Akhdar is singular. Its wadis, plateaus, peaks and terraced hillside all enjoy cooler temperatures and higher rainfall than elsewhere in Oman, which give this mountain region a gentler face than others.
You will start your uphill journey in the village of Birkat al Mawz that was named after its extensive banana cultivation and the pools of mountain water which collect here. There are some attractive old houses here and a 17th century Mosque. The village is the gateway into Wadi Madaeen, which carves its way through the mountainside. Follow the blacktop road for 36km up onto Saiq Plateau, a vast upland expanse lying at 2,000m above sea level. The Plateau has been inhabited and cultivated for many years but, until the blacktop road was completed in recent years, it remained virtually inaccessible to visitors. There are many interesting sights up here - walk down the steps into wonderful Wadi Bani Habib with its crumbling abandoned houses and cultivated wadi bed where garlic is grown in the clay soil in the middle and pomegranate trees cling to the side near the rocks; pay a visit to Al Ayn village where you can walk through traditional houses stacked on the mountainside; find the magnificent views of the villages of Al Ayn and Al Aqr hanging on the mountainsides; drive up to the highest point of the Jebel Akhdar to absorb the scenes beneath you; seek out the famed Jebel roses growing near the peak or simply walk around in the cooler air enjoying the pockets of green fecundity and growth in this unforgiving rocky terrain.

Estimate arrival time is approx. 16:00 - 16:30
Overnight at Alila resort, 5* mountain resort, Mountain view room incl. HB


DAY 05: NIZWA FORT AND SOUQ - BAHLA - JABREEN - MUSCAT **4WD**

Breakfast at the hotel and check out
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.


BAHLA: THE FORT AND ITS POTTERS

It is rumoured 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.

LUNCH AT LOCAL RESTAURANT OR PICNIC LUNCH BOX


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 spendid castle, it was built during a period of 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 Muscat Holiday Hotel, 4* city hotel, Standard room incl. BB


DAY 06: MUSCAT - WAHIBA SANDS - WADI BANI KHALID - MUSCAT **4WD**

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


BE MESMORISED BY THE WAHIBA SANDS

A trip into the Wahiba (or Sharqiya) Sands is the perfect way to get taste of storybook Arabian 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.

LUNCH AT LOCAL RESTAURANT OR PICNIC LUNCH BOX


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.

Estimate arrival time is approx. 15:00 - 15:30
Overnight at Muscat Holiday Hotel, 4* city hotel, Standard room incl. BB


DAY 07: 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.