Oman is a country that has managed to retain its distinct charm and Bedouin traditions despite its wealth. If you’ve never visited the Middle East before, Oman is the perfect place to start. Many Middle Eastern gems make it hard to escape the distorting lens of wealth (we’re looking at you Dubai), but Oman has kept a tight hold of its gentle nature, its sleepy fishing towns, sweeping coastlines and lush, palm-filled oases.
Highlights: This Oman holiday offer is the perfect little trip for those wanting to get away for a self-drive, Arabian adventure together. Long transfers are avoided on this holiday, but you still get a fantastic taster of what this spectacular country has to offer. Explore the city of Muscat, venture into the mountains to get active, take in the views and uncover ancient, crumbling villages, then unwind on the beach at your luxury hotel before flying home.
Travel dates: 01 November 2021 – 17 December 2021 and 08 January 2022 – 27 March 2022
Duration: 11 days
Oman holiday offer price (based on 2 people sharing a room):
Selfdrive: £3,320 per person (includes saving of £395 per person)
Driver-guide: £4,100 per person (includes saving of £425 per person)
Offer includes: International flights, accommodation, car hire
Dive in to the adventure that awaits you below….
Day One – Overnight flight to Muscat, Oman
Your adventure begins with an overnight flight from London Heathrow.
Day Two – Settle in to the city of Muscat
The Omani port capital of Muscat may be slightly more understated than its high-rise neighbours, but in our humble opinion, its natural beauty and charm would be hard to beat! There is actually a law in Muscat that means no building stand higher than 40m ( which is eight stories) and they all have to be white or cream coloured and distinctly Arabic in style.
Day Three – Full-day Muscat city tour with private English speaking guide
Today, your full-day tour of Muscat will cover the main highlights of this thinly spread city of contrasts. At the historic end of the spectrum is Old Muscat, where you can admire the forts of Jalali and Mirani and, at the head of the bay, the impressive Sultan’s Palace. It’s riches are clear to see from the opulence of its grand interior! Around the corner is the Beit Al-Zubair museum, easily the best museum in the country, which will help put the whole of your trip in context with history of the region.
Moving one bay over and you’ll begin the traditional part of your tour. As you make your way through the narrow streets of the souq in Muttrah, if you’re feeling brave and can stand the smell, you can cross the road to the fish souq. Oman is a seafaring nation and fisherman have been unloading and selling their fish here for centuries. The modern part of your tour comes from driving through the city, past the 20th Century shopping malls and office blocks, to the Grand Mosque, completed by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in 2001. It’s a stunning complex of buildings, finished to the highest order in marble and with decorative art work and carvings everywhere. Highlights include the prayer carpet from the main prayer hall, hand woven and the second-largest single piece of carpet in the world, and the 14m high chandelier above the prayer hall, sparkling away with its million-or-so Swarovski crystals.
Other highlights of your jam-packed tour include a visit to the Royal Opera House – a beautiful gleaming white structure built in 2011 – and the National Museum. The latter is sure to give you an overarching picture of the country as a whole, an ideal activity for a start of the trip to give you a backdrop for your upcoming adventures. The exhibitions jump all the way back to the first human settlements in Oman some two million years ago up to the story of the country today – so it’s quite a thorough overview!
Day Four – Your self-drive adventure into the mountains begins
Today you get the freedom of your own four wheels when your hire-car is delivered and you start the four day self-drive portion of your trip. (If you’d prefer not to drive yourself, we can arrange a drive-guide for you instead! Just let your specialist know) The car will be a full-size 4WD, and will come with a GPS unit, personalised driving directions, e-travel book and an allowance of 300 kilometres per day. Don’t forget to bring your photographic driving license along with you, as this will be required for you to hire a car in Oman!
Your first stretch of road trip follows a picturesque road for two hours through the rugged mountain landscape of the Sumail Gap. There are many spots worth stopping at en-route, all detailed in your e-travel book. Finally you’ll find yourself in the ancient and beautiful capital of Nizwa.
Your hotel in Nizwa is the beautiful Sahab Resort and Spa. When you consider the array of facilities on offer at Sahab Resort & Spa (pool, Jacuzzi, WiFi, restaurant and café) it’s hard to remember that you’re on the remote Saiq Plateau in the Jebel Akhdar mountains, and that your hotel is only accessible using a 4×4!
Day Five – Exploring Nizwa and the surrounding region
This morning you will feel like you are waking up on the cloud, nestled above the jagged peaks of the surrounding mountains. Sip on a fresh coffee and breath in your surroundings before heading out to explore the Arabian gems of this region.
To the west of Nizwa lie some fine examples of the forts that can be found in the region. Jabreen Fort, despite being extremely defensive in appearance, was actually built as a palace for the local Imam. It has been exquisitely restored, when you’re exploring don’t forget to look up! The ceilings, in particular, show beautifully precise artistry not to be missed.
Day Six – Adventures in the mountains: Jebel Shams & Wadi Ghul
If you’re partial to a bit of challenge and adventure on your holidays, we could arrange for you to spend the day canyoning through the magnificent and cavernous Snake Gorge. This exciting journey involves canyoning, trekking, swimming, abseiling, hiking (1-2 hours) through the narrow and winding pathways and jumping off rocks into freshwater pools. This adventure lasts around 3-6 hours, please chatto your travel expert if you would like to add this thrilling adventure to your itinerary.
Day Seven – Explore local towns on your drive back to Muscat
For your last day of road tripping today, you head back towards Muscat. Not before visiting some of the unique and beautiful towns in the area though!
Nearby is Bahla, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site that’s well worth a visit. The interior has undergone a huge restoration project and is now open for visitors to enjoy for themselves. The stronghold is absolutely huge, and it is impressive enough when viewed from the outside. The surrounding date plantations and pottery shops in Bahla itself are well worth an amble and will give you a great insight into daily life in this mountainous part of Oman.
For something unique, why not visit the abandoned ruins of Al Hamra. This new village itself is more than 400 years old, and was built up around the Al Hamra ruins, thought to be between 700 and 1000 years old. The ruins are completely untouched and a visit will see you wandering along dusty pathways, ambling between crumbling buildings and walking through ancient doors. A real slice of history awaits you here, and it’s one of our favourite, unique things to add to an Oman itinerary.
While you’re in the area, pay a visit to the living museum of Bait Al Safah. Here you can interact with the local people and observe the traditional skills of Omani’s from years past. You will see how Omani women used to bake traditional bread, how they made flour, and how they made oils from different nuts and maybe even get to try your hands at mastering the skill. You can even play dress up and try on some of the traditional Omani clothing. This is such a unique and interactive experience and well worth a visit during your time in the mountains.
Your hire car will be picked up from your hotel at 17.00pm this evening, leaving you free to put your feet up for the remainder of your holiday!
Days Eight-Ten – Relax with your toes in the sand and explore more of the Omani Port Capital of Muscat
You’ll be staying at the Shangri-La al Bandar for your final few nights in Oman. This stunning hotel’s name translates to “town”, which is apt as the hotel itself has been modelled on Muscat and its characteristic architecture. With crenelated walls, pointed arch windows and pretty balconies, you won’t forget that you’re on an Arabian adventure whilst staying here. The perfect place to relax, enjoy the hotel’s spectacular beach, unwind in your sea-view room, while away the hours floating down the lazy river and treat yourself to a few treatments in the hotel’s spa.
You have the next few days to enjoy relaxing or exploring more of what Muscat has to offer – and there’s a lot!
Pop into Muscat’s souks and corniche for a wander around, visit the fish market to take in a slice of every-day life. If you fancy a boating, snorkelling or dolphin-watching trip, we can arrange it for you.
If snorkelling with dolphins does feature on your ‘bucket-list’, you might be surprised that you can do that here in Muscat! Head out onto the water and take in the beautiful coastline from the sea for an exciting cruise. The ultimate goal of this adventure is to (hopefully) see some of the dolphins that are commonly found in the waters off the coast of Muscat. You’ll even have the opportunity to enjoy a snorkel too if you fancy a dip! Please note that this is a shared excursion so you won’t have the boat entirely to yourselves, but it’s still well worth the outing. Chat to your specialist if this is something you’d like to add to your Oman holiday.
Day Eleven – Time to fly home
All good things must come to an end. And that’s no truer than it will be today when you’re met by your private transfer and taken to the airport for your flight home. We’re almost certain that this will be ‘see you later’ and not ‘goodbye’, as Oman could well be that place you want to revisit again and again. (A lot of Team HA feel the same way!)
If this Oman holiday ticks your boxes, give us a call today on 01242 253 073 to chat to Emma or Cat, our very knowledgeable Oman specialists! We’d be so happy to get an Arabian adventure in the diary for you.