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Oman never was our dream destination.
But we still had a few days of paid time off left and in November we still wanted to leave for holiday anyway. After some research and probably also for lack of alternatives, we decided to choose Oman.
The country is really amazing and especially a roundtrip Oman is the perfect way to discover this Arabian beauty. The scenery is gorgeous and people are extremely hospitable.
If you are entering Oman for the first time, you are likely to be at Muscat or Salalah Airport, at Muscat Cruise Port, or on the land border with the United Arab Emirates. Few will travel across the land border from Yemen or Saudi Arabia. Direct flights from Germany to Muscat or Salalah are offered by Oman Air, among others. The airline really surprised us positively.
You should apply for the Oman visa in advance online. There is probably an emergency counter at the airport, should you not have submitted an online application. As always, it is important for the application that the passport must still be sufficiently valid after the end of the trip.
You can either apply for a 10-day visa for 5 OMR or a 30-day visa for 20 OMR.
No special vaccinations are necessary for Oman. The standard vaccinations should be checked before the trip and refreshed if necessary. There is a small risk of dengue fever. Check your first-aid kit again before departure and be sure to find out about the latest medical information on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.
Oman is probably the perfect country for a road trip. The streets are modern and well developed and little traffic. The whole trip was very pleasant, even in Muscat, the traffic volume for an Arab city is absolutely within limits. The speed limits on expressways and federal highways are usually 100-120 km / h. In localities, they are 60 km / h. The Omani are very considerate drivers. Attention: There are permanently installed radar controls on expressways and federal highways every few hundred meters. So don't be afraid to rent a car.
At regular intervals, the military sets up checkpoints on the interurban roads where armed soldiers want to randomly check their driver's license and identity documents. The soldiers were always very friendly and courteous. Even if the big machine guns that are mounted on the roofs of their jeeps seem intimidating.
Should you fall back on taxis, negotiate the price well beforehand and ask at your accommodation how much the trip can cost. Most taxis don't have taximeters. So don't get ripped off.
If you need a transfer from Salalah Airport to the major hotels, you can either book the transfer in advance at the hotel or at the airport in the transfer office. The transfer office is on the right-hand side after leaving the airport building. You pay in the office and look for the assigned taxi driver with the receipt. The trip to the hotel area always costs 15 OMR - whether you book in the office, directly at the hotel or in the travel agency from home.
At the airport in Muscat there are various SIM card providers at the exit of the airport building. We chose OMANtel and had very good cell phone reception everywhere. Even in the Wahiba desert we had better reception than in Germany. Registration and activation is completely uncomplicated and is carried out by the provider. We paid the equivalent of € 2 for 1.5 GB. We were able to save the navigation system for the car. So a very good deal and one of our Oman travel tips.
Oman is a Muslim country, so as a traveler you should always keep an eye on clothing customs. Women should always have their shoulders and knees covered and should not wear tops with a low neckline. Men should also wear knee-covering pants. Even if Oman is a relatively open country compared to neighboring countries, please abide by the country's conventions and behave respectfully.
If you take this to heart, you will encounter an incredible level of hospitality in Oman. We were invited to their camp by nomads in the desert. They stuffed us with chips and cola. In the Wahiba desert, our driver Masoud invited us to his house for breakfast, where his wife prepared delicious delicacies for us. With every personal contact we received party favors. When we stayed in the tent on the beach on an island on the Musandam Peninsula, the boss of the tour operator, who had organized the overnight stay for us, came late in the evening and wanted to see if we had everything we needed. This turned into storytelling for hours.
As a Central European, you are somewhat skeptical about so much hospitality and suspect rip off immediately. But none of the named wanted even a cent for the hospitality or what was offered. It was just hospitality.
In Oman you can get chai (tea) and dates at every opportunity. And you shouldn't reject this gesture of welcome.
The food in Oman is typically Arabic with Indian touches. Humus, flatbreads, mezze, lots of fish, chicken, beef, goat, lamb and great spices dominate the Omani cuisine. We loved the food. We struggled every day and even lost weight in the end. How practical.
To take a city tour, we can only recommend you NOT to take the Big Bus! The tour is very expensive compared to other hop-on hop-off buses in other cities and the buses only stop every 2 hours. We once waited for 3 hours for a bus that never came.
At the entrance to the Muttrah Souq (coast side), taxi drivers offer private day tours at much cheaper prices.
To get to the viewpoint of Jabal Al Akhdar or to the hotels in the mountains, you need a 4WD car to drive up the mountain. Police officers check the mountain ability of the car at the police checkpoint and do not let normal cars go up. There is a parking lot just before this checkpoint. You can leave your car there and drive up the mountain to the hotel with a local. People earn something and come towards you when you are in the parking lot. The trip is relatively expensive and you have to negotiate tough, otherwise they will take you out. We paid 40 OMR round trip, but you can still get cheaper with local drivers than with overpriced hotel transfers.
Once at the top of the mountain, several hotels are located directly on the Grand Canyon of Oman. It is really fantastic and pleasantly cool up here in contrast to the desert below. The best time to take pictures of the impressive canyon is definitely in the morning.
Watching turtles hatching or laying eggs has long been our dream. And not just ours, so book the hotel well in advance. As a hotel guest, you will be given preferential treatment on the Turtle Watching Tour. i.e. you can start in the first group. This can be a great advantage, especially when there are few turtles on site.
The Turtle Watching Tours in Ras Al Jinz take place at 05:00 a.m. and in the evening at 21:00 p.m. We went on both tours. There are definitely more people in the evening than in the morning. The morning tour was a bit cooler as the sunrise bathes everything in golden light. Just when we wanted to go back, hundreds of small turtles hatched out of the sand next to us. As an encore we saw two giant turtles disappearing into the sea.
However, there are two rules that you should definitely follow:
♦ Photographs and films may be taken, but WITHOUT flash and light.
♦ Flashlights or similar may not be used.
This valley in the rocks is pleasant to hike and really worth a visit.
From the parking lot you first have to cross the small river. Locals are already waiting and will be happy to help you with your boat for the fee of 1 rial. From here you start the hike and walk dry foot through the green valley, always accompanied by the small river that comes from the mountains. The dry part of the hike to the end of the wadi takes about 45 minutes. Shady spots are in short supply, so take enough water, a hat and sun protection with you. The next few hundred meters have to be covered alternately swimming, wading or walking. A drybag and non-slip shoes have proven to be very helpful.
At the end of the valley you can swim through a narrow passage in the rock face and land in a small stone cave cathedral with a waterfall. An incredibly cool spot.
Try to be there early in the morning. It gets really crowded from noon. At the beginning of the trail there is a bistro with cheap drinks and food.
In Oman you pay with Omani Rial (OMR). You should always have enough cash with ech, because there are only a few ATMs outside of Muscat. The price level is relatively high - overall, significantly higher than in Germany. At the top of our Oman Travel Tips page we have linked our travel expenses so that you can get an overview of how expensive the Oman trip could be.
Oman knocked us out of our socks. Above all the hospitality and nature made us fly speechless again.
The variety offered is truly fantastic.
Imagine sailing on historical dhows in the fjords of the Musandam Peninsula in the north of the Oman. Here you feel like you are in a warm version of Norway with dolphins. In the capital, Muscat, seductive scents lure you into ancient souks and you feel like in Aladdin or Jasmine from 1001 nights. You hike on the gentle dunes of the Wahiba desert in absolute silence and sit at the campfire at night under a star tent like you have never seen anywhere else. You are on the beach early in the morning and suddenly you are standing in the midst of hundreds of newly hatched turtles, which you are calling "Good trip". In the south of the country you can float in the sea and enjoy the sun on beaches that can easily keep up with the Caribbean in their beauty.
All of this is Oman and we will come back.