By Kabeer Yousuf — East or west; south or north the Sultanate of Oman has some hotbeds that are immensely rich with tourist spots for a perfect weekend or for an ideal holidaying. A vast number of tour operators and agents are all set to offer the holiday makers their best services on land, in the sea, and in the air.
While the travel agents and airlines are vying to sell tickets to favourite domestic and regional sectors as well as international holiday spots, a major chunk of tour operators are satiated with the number of visitors to their land and sea tourism. The case is not different with the adventure tourism as well.
Ameen, Tours Manager Sidab Sea Tours said the rush is still on and they are abundant with tour enquiries from across the region. “We are witnessing an unprecedented rush for our services of Dhow Cruising and Dolphin Watching during these holidays. What makes the trips more interesting is that majority of our customers, say 60 per cent are from the neighbouring UAE while 40 per cent comprises both residents and locals from Oman”. Underlining what he said, both Lubna Dhow and the dolphin watching glass bottom boats are packed with visitors from across the region these days.
Some of the leisure activities that you can try out during the holidays inside the country are as follows. For further information and for available packages, you can get in touch with the nearest tour agent.
Historic forts of Oman: Let’s start with tours to historic places in the country and Oman’s forts that hide a surfeit of untold stories in its bosom are a must to be explored this time.
History says Nizwa, capital of the interior, is the birthplace of Islam in the Sultanate of Oman. Nizwa boasts the famous Round Tower Fort, built in the 17th century, and its Souq renowned for its Friday cattle auction, intricately hand-carved "Khanjars" (daggers) and ornamental silver jewellery. Jabrin, the finest of Oman's castles built in the late 17th century, became a seat of Omani learning. The castle displays the highest achievement in Omani ceiling painting and beautifully executed woodcarvings. There are several other forts to be explored and if you are keen on exploring further, inform your tour guide about it.
Jabal al Akhdhar: The mountain shrouded in green satin. While coming back from Nizwa forts, you can pay a visit to the pretty village of Birkat al Mauz situated at the foothills of Jabal Akhdhar (Green Mountains). Enjoy a walk through its oasis and dense date plantations. You will depart from Muscat and proceed to visit the Nizwa Round tower Fort and the Nizwa Souk. Drive to the pretty village of Birkat al Mauz. Enjoy a walk through the lush green date plantations. Proceed to Wadi al Madeen, where there is a checkpost. From here a 36 km stretch of winding road takes one to Jabal al Akhdhar (2,000m above sea level), the green jewel of the Al Hajjar mountain ranges, a truly unique spot in the Arabian Peninsula. Enjoy the cool climate up in the mountains.
Jabal al Akhdhar is famed for its fruit orchards, typically laid out terrace style along the slopes of mountains, which are endowed with natural springs and aflaj. A large variety of fresh fruits such as peaches, apricot, fig, grapes, apple, pears, plums, almond, walnuts are grown here. The region is well-known for the pomegranate fruit which is of a very superior quality.
En route Jabal al Akdhar, take a stop at Wadi Nakher located in the depth of the deepest canyon. Grand Canyon is not to be missed in this region.
Then visit Misfah a pretty mountain village with stone dwellings still in existence. While heading for Jabal Shams stop at the terrace farming village of Wadi Ghul. In the Jabal al Akhdhar range, Jabal Shams is the highest peak offering a spectacular view.
The villages of Saiq, Wadi Bani Habib (the village of the old houses) and Al Ain dot the landscape. The villages overlook a spectacular landscape of dramatic peaks, gorges and wadis. The roses of Jabal al Akhdhar fill the air with fragrance when in full bloom (March / April). Rose water is distilled in the homes of the villagers.
Al Hoota Caves
Yet another place to discover is the Al Hoota Caves in Nizwa Wilayat, after visiting the Friday Souq renowned for its Friday cattle auction, and shopping for intricately hand-carved "Khanjars" and ornamental silver jewellery.
At the Al Hoota caves one gets a chance to view stalactites and stalagmites as well as an underground lake. The show-cave can only be reached by visitors in an electrical train that runs through a tunnel alongside the main entrance. The show-cave is equipped with pathways and special lighting system. Guided tours provide explanations and are customised according to visitors’ expectations.