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Ten reasons why Oman should be on your bucket list

Oman is the perfect introduction to the Middle East. A peaceful Arabic country bursting with culture, there are endless traditional markets, culinary delights and historical landmarks to explore. Adventure seekers will fall in love with the countless mountain trails, natural valleys and desert landscapes of Oman. Of course, beautiful secluded beaches on the Arabian Peninsula make it a wonderful option for those in search of beachside relaxation. With that said, we have put together ten reasons why Oman should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Natural swimming pools

Oman is home to countless natural valleys known as wadis. A wonderful way to spend a day in Oman is to visit one of the many wadis that have natural swimming pools. Wadi Shab is an excellent option as it has fresh pools, a hidden cave and waterfall. Take a beautiful stroll through the mountainscape before reaching charming rock pools, perfect for cooling down in the sun. For an easily accessible wadi with a selection of larger pools, go to Wadi Bani Khalid. Spend a day exploring the natural pools and enjoying a picnic filled with Middle Eastern dishes and mezzes.

Excellent trekking routes

Hiking is the best way to appreciate Oman’s rugged terrain. An excellent route is along the Saiq Plateau, an upland plateau defined by steep gorges and rugged summits. During your hike, marvel at the spectacular views over terraced farmlands and valleys towards the quaint town of Al Ayn. Along the way, visit the ruined village of Wadi Bani Habib which is surrounded by orchards and walnut trees. Continuing along the ancient farming trails, stop off for a picnic in the shade of the pomegranate trees before following the panoramic routes along the mountainscape.

Explore the vibrant souqs

A visit to a traditional souq is a great way to experience traditional culture and customs. A must-see is the centuries old Nizwa Souq. One of the oldest in the country, this thriving marketplace continues to attract locals and visitors alike. Stroll through extensive collections of seasonal fruit and vegetables, colourful spices and handmade crafts. Another excellent option is Muttrah Souq, one of the most famous in Oman. A classic Arabian-style market, there are various narrow alleyways filled with frankincense, traditional clothing, handmade pottery and classic jewellery.

Experience luxury desert camping

From camping by the sea to the remote dunes, Oman offers contrasting landscapes that are perfectly suited to luxury camping. With sustainability and conservation at the forefront, Hud Hud Travel Luxury Camps is a great option. Their camps specialise in solar-powered bespoke mobile tents that move every 10 days to reduce the impact on Oman’s desert. This is your chance to experience stargazing in the desert, kayaking in the Arabian Sea and sampling delicious traditional Omani cuisine by the campfire.

Get to know vibrant Muscat

Oman’s port capital of Muscat is situated on the Gulf of Oman. Perfectly wedged between mountains and ocean, it is an excellent base from which to explore. It is home to many breathtaking landmarks including the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Quite unimposing from the outside, interiors are mesmerising. The main prayer hall houses not only the second-largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet in the world but also the second-largest chandelier in the world. Other must-sees include the Sultan’s Al Alam Palace, the 16th century Mirani and Jalali Forts and Bait Al Zubair Museum.

Sample excellent Middle Eastern cuisine

The cuisine of Oman is wonderfully influenced by Persian, North African, Indian and Arabic cuisine. Sitting along the ancient spice route, expect vibrant flavours like saffron, rosewater and dried lime. Oman’s national dish known as Shuwa, is a wonderful dish comprising of slow-cooked marinated lamb or goat served on a bed of fragrant basmati rice. Order a side of khubz ragag, a tasty soft bread reminiscent of savoury crepes. Other types of bread include fluffy mandazi and date flatbread. Sample classic beverages like spiced milk tea and Omani coffee; cardamom infused coffee served in a dallah pot, with dates on the side for added sweetness.

Turtle hatching on the Arabian Peninsula

Every year, thousands of turtles lay their eggs on the secluded beaches of the Arabian Peninsula. During peak season, green, loggerhead, hawksbill and olive ridley turtles come to nest on the beaches of Oman. For a wonderful experience, visit Ras Al Jinz Nature Reserve. It is the nesting site of the rare green turtle and the only place where the public can watch the nesting process of the beautiful turtle. For a complete experience, choose to stay in a luxury eco tent and embark on guided turtle watching tours both at night and at the crack of dawn.

Romantic luxury retreats

Oman is home to an impressive selection of idyllic retreats in peaceful locations. Two secluded resorts include Alila Jabal Akhdar and Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar. Set on the impressive Al Hajar Mountain Range, relax by infinity pools with panoramic views, embark on mountain treks with experienced guides and dine by candlelight on the canyons edge. For those in search of beachside relaxation, there are excellent beachside hotels like Six Senses Zighy Bay, The Chedi Muscat and Shangri La Al Husn.

Experience the seasonal wonder of Damask roses

From March to mid-May, damask roses start to fill valleys and mountain slopes with beautiful pink hues and wonderful scents. Blooms are hand-picked in the early morning and taken to mountain villages to be distilled into rose water. This wonderful fragrance is then used in cooking and perfumes. The best way to understand the ancient process is to meet the families who continue to make rosewater in traditional distilleries. With your guide, learn about the process as well as watching first-hand.

It is the perfect multi-centre destination

One of the great things about Oman is that it is perfectly combinable with other idyllic destinations. Whether you wish to continue exploring wadis and natural wonders in Jordan, cityscapes in Dubai or island paradise in the Maldives, Oman is perfectly situated to create an ideal multi-centre itinerary.

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