Day 2: Muscat
Muscat offers the visitor a unique opportunity to witness a modern commercial center existing in harmony with its traditional culture. Muscat, with its natural harbor, means “Anchorage” and lies in a natural volcanic bowl. Early pickup at the hotel for a visit to the Grand Mosque, highlight of Muscat city. Completed in 2001, the Grand Mosque is a beautiful building which looks modern but shows that modern craftsmen have retained the skills necessary to create this wonderful traditional environment. It is impossible not to take more and more pictures. The handmade carpets, the chandeliers, the ceiling of the great dome in the main prayer room are absolute 'must sees'. We proceed to Bait Al Zubair Museum a display tracing Oman’s history and development. Drive along the waterfront Corniche visiting the bustling Muttrah Souq. Then, proceed for a photo stop to the magnificent Al Alam Palace, official palace of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, flanked by the 16th century Portuguese forts Mirani & Jalali. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel. [B]
Note: To visit mosques and religious sites, ladies must be fully covered and carry a head scarf and men should wear trousers.
Day 3: Muscat, Al Hamra
After breakfast drive through the date palms to the sparkling springs and Fort at Nakhl. Turn towards Wadi Bani Auf; this stretch of graded road is very adventurous and for the physically fit only as it involves steep bends and bumpy roads. Visit the charming mountain village of Bilad Sayt where one is awestruck by the beauty of the landscape. This 44-mile stretch of road continues unto the village of Al Hamra famous for its date plantations. Enjoy a picnic on the way and continue to Al Hamra to check-in. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel. [B/L/D]
Day 4: Al Hamra (Jebel Shams)
Today we drive up to Al Khatim (Altitude 6,235 feet, Jebel Shams being the highest peak). We will walk with the guide though the abandoned village and come back to Al Khatim (3-hour walk) where we will have a picnic lunch. The village was home to about 15 families. It was well protected against enemies and had a good supply of water. Their houses, which remain, where built primarily of stone. After having enjoyed our picnic, we drive down to Wadi Ghul, stopping at the terrace farming villages of Wadi Ghul and Wadi Nakher. Return to al Hamra and relax the reminder of the day. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. [B/P/D]
Duration: 2.5 – 3 Hours (2.2 miles)
Difficulty: Old donkey path, partly exposed to heights, but easy going.
Day 5: Al Hambra (Jabrin)
After breakfast at the hotel be ready for your cycling road tour (about 23 miles) of the flat scenic Omani wadi landscape going on the way of the small town of Bahla which impresses with its surrounding old town wall, green plantations, lively souk and mighty fort, an UNESCO World Heritage. In a traditional pottery workshop, you will see this handicraft for which Bahla had been a famous center for many centuries. During a visit of Bahla fort, history comes back to life. Lunch in a local restaurant on the main road will invigorate you for the short afternoon cycle through the wadi bed to another magnificent piece of Omani heritage: Jabrin Castle. After a visit you will be transferred back to the hotel by car. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. [B/L/D]
Full day with lunch break
Normal timing: 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Length: 23 miles
Characteristics: Easy off-road cycling for all who are used to simple off road riding and can cycle 25 miles per day.
Day 6: Al Hambra, Jebel Akhdar
Start the day with a 30-minute to visit the impressive Al Hoota Cave with its impressive Salalah concretions and underground lake. Al Hoota can only be visited by walking and it would take approximate 45 minutes. Then, continue to Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountains) driving to 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 jewelry. We visit the pretty village of Birkat Al Mauz and walk (30 minutes) through its oasis and date plantations before continuing to Jebel Akhdar to check-in at your hotel. Enjoy a lunch at Sama Jebel Akhdar and proceed to Al Aqor village for the W18b hike through the villages of Al Aqor, Al Ain, A'Sheraijah and Sayq Village. Return to the hotel at around 5:00 pm. Dinner and overnight at Jebel Akhdar. [B/L/D]
Walking time: 2 hours
Altitude: 6,235 feet
Length: 2.5 miles
Characteristics: Hiking on small trails and thus only for sure-footed people with hiking experience.
Day 7: Jebel Akhdar, Wahiba
Early breakfast and pickup at the hotel for this morning hiking. On this nature hike on high elevations you enjoy great views and natural vegetation as you walk on small old trails through an old abandoned village. Here you can see how the people lived for centuries a completely remote life. A bit further down the trail you reach a natural green paradise as water flows in a little stream providing life to many insects, birds and plants. The trail continues further uphill you will reach the summit area for the lunch break with a 360-degrees view over all the highest mountains in Oman. The descent has no trail but is good to walk leading you back to the car through another green wadi. Proceed to Wahiba Sands, a vast mass of undulating red and white sea of sand and dunes rising up to 655 feet, are also host to a variety of flora and fauna. The ever-changing patterns of the dunes are a photographer’s delight. Dinner and ovenight stay at Desert Nights camp. [B/L/D]
Day 8: Wahiba, Sur, Muscat, Salalah
Leave the camp to visit Bedouins in the wilderness. Enjoy the dune bashing experience before heading towards Wadi Bani Khalid an ensemble of small pretty villages embedded in the mountains and privileged by clear deep blue water. After having enjoyed your time at the wadi continue to Fins Beach via Sur. Enjoy a short walk at the Fins beach and proceed to Wadi Shaab enjoy a picnic on the way. A gentle 1-hour stroll up this beautiful wadi brings us to the swimming pools where we can relax and swim and explore the hidden cave. Once refreshed we walk back to the cars and make our journey back to Muscat airport to board a short flight to Salalah. On arrival you'll be met by our representative and transferred to the hotel for dinner and overnight. [B/P/D]
Day 9: Salalah (Ubar)
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing on a full-day excursion to Ubar. The ruins of the fabled city of Ubar, chronicled in classical works as the “Atlantis of the sands” are among a series of exciting archaeologic excavations currently underway along the route. Lunch in the Rub-Al Khali (The Empty Quarter) area. In the afternoon experience dune driving and then, return to the hotel for dinner and Overnight. [B/L/D]
Day 10: Salalah (Mirbat)
Breakfast Pickup from the hotel and proceed to visit the fishing village of Taqa, an old town with an interesting castle surrounded by watchtowers and Taqa stone houses. Proceed onward to Khor Rori creek, the site of the ruined city of Samhuram* and capital of ancient Arabia’s frankincense trade. Excavations have produced evidence of an ancient city with trade links by sea with Greece and even to distant Far Eastern destinations. Mirbat, the ancient capital of Dhofar, was an important town as early as the 9th century for its trade in frankincense, horses and slaves. See some of the old houses famous for its woodcarvings. Some day you may witness boatloads of fish arriving into the harbor. One of Dhofar’s best-known historic sites is Bin Ali’s Tomb. The twin domed structure, tomb of Mohamed bin Ali who died in 1135 AD, is a fine example of medieval architecture. Return via Ayn Razat’s manicured gardens fed by natural underground springs and stop for lunch in a Local restaurant. In the afternoon visit the Biblical “Nabi Ayoub” Prophet Job’s Tomb, perched high up in the “Jebels” (mountains). Along the way are spectacular views of the plains, mountain landscapes and emerald green pastureland. Continue to Mughsail Beach where “Blow-holes” (perforations in the limestone rock) spit sea water gushes during high tide. Experience the hairpin bent roads for approximately 10 miles before arriving at a wadi from where you get breathtaking views. At the nearby bird sanctuary, one may see seasonal birds. On the way back to Salalah notice the stark shape of leafless Frankincense trees dotting the landscape. Once traded as a commodity more precious than gold, frankincense harvested in Dhofar is rated the best in the world. Dinner and overnight in Salalah. [B/L/D]
* Not available Thursdays and Fridays
Day 11: Salalah, Muscat, USA
Enjoy breakfast before being driven to the airport to board your connecting flight home via Muscat. [B]
[B] = Breakfast | [B’L/D] = Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner | [B/P/D] = Breakfast, Picnic Lunch and Dinner