Three nights in Muscat, Oman. The capital of the Sultanate of Oman doesn’t have much to offer. Highlights are the Grand Mosque, the Souk and the Palace of the Sultan. We were looking into possibilities to discover more of the country on the eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula. Continue to figure out more about the awesome two daytrips we had.
Renting a car is a great way to discover the areas outside of the capital. Since we were a bunch of people, we decided to hire a driver who took us around. The places we visited could easily be discovered with a regular car, more remote locations such as the desert and more remote Wadis would require a 4x4.
Sink Hole and Wadi Shab (Day 1)
The easiest daytrip out of Muscat, driving roughly one hour toward South. The roads in Oman are easy to drive on. Outside of the capital there was not much traffic and navigation with or without GPS is easy along the highways.
On the way south of Muscat.
Parked the car at the beach.
Road toward the Sink Hole.
The Bimmah Sink Hole is a depression filled with turquoise waters. The dimension of the hole is 50 m by 70 m wide and 20 meters deep. As per scientists, the hole was formed by limestone collapsing underground. In Arabic the locals call the place “Hawaiya Najm”, translating “The Falling Star” because they believe the hole was created by a meteorite.
Would you swim here as well?
What a wonderful place.
I'm ready to refresh my self now.
We came here on a Friday and thus it was quite busy with a lot of visitors. There is no entrance charged and toilets are provided. We had great fun to go swim in the beautiful colored and clear waters.
On the way toward Wadi Shab you will pass the small city of Fins and nearby is the famous White Sand beach. The entrance to the Wadi Shab is located under the highway bridge. As with the Sink Hole there is also no entrance being charged here. But in order to reach the valley you have to cross the small river with a boat. The service is operated by locals and they charge 1 OMR per person for a return ticket. Expect to walk around 45 to 60 minutes from here to the first pools where swimming is possible. The entire path leads through the valley and the sceneries are changing from dry river beds to water filled pools. Here as well, the Wadi was busy because if was Friday and a lot of locals came here to enjoy their day off.
Welcome comitee at the parking for Wadi Shab.
The boat taking you on the other side for the Wadi Shab access.
Long way ahead though Wadi Shab.
But actually time flies with view like this.
A lot of wonderful photo opportunities ahead.
The "top" area where most people chill and swim.
Once reaching the area where most of the people swim it isn’t easy to realize that you haven’t reached the highlight of this Wadi yet. There is no signage and no explanation and those who didn’t do research might miss that next part.
We dropped out stuff, if you have a waterproof bag for valuables bring it along and water proof shoes are a big plus as well. From here follow the river bed, some parts you have to swim and others you have to walk along. After another 15 minutes there is a big water pool where the end of it leads to a small tiny passage to an inner cave. Once inside the cave there is a waterfall. It is possible to climb and walk to the upper rim of the cave from where you can jump down into the inner water pool of the cave.
But dont miss the extra part. Another 20 minutes of swim ...
... and walk will take you there.
The cave with the waterfall. The true highlight of Wadi Shab.
What an awesome day. We were quite tired and exhausted when the driver dropped us off at our hotel in Muscat.
Nizwa Fort and Jebel Shams (Day 2)
Yesterday was an awesome experience and I was already totally excited about what we saw and I didn’t expect to see anything to top this. We decided to take a trip to South West of Muscat and visit the Nizwa Fort and Jebel Shams. Similar to yesterday we didn’t have much idea what to expect.
Nizwa Souq and Nizwa Fort
The 140 kilometer drive from Muscat to Nizwa was smooth. Similar to yesterday it is mainly highway and the sceneries are filled with sand and stone with maintains at the horizon. We arrived at Nizwa before noon. We had time to look around at the Souk but most shops where closed around this time or because it was weekend. The highlight in the town however is the Nizwa Fort which dates back to the 1650s. The previous structures of the fort even date back to the 12thcentury. It is one of the oldest forts in the country and the large round shape of the main fortification tower is quite unique. From the top you have a 360 degrees view over Nizwa and the surrounding mountains. Most of the rooms are well explained and set up in a museum like style. The Nizwa Fort is also featured on the backside of the 5 Omani rials bill and is the most visited national monument in Oman.
The round tower of the Nizwa Fort.
Decorations on the door.
Beautiful interor rooms at the Nizwa Fort.
The view from the tower of Nizwa Fort.
Nizwa Souk, for those who need to buy something small.
For lunch we went to the nearby Bin Ateeq Restaurant which claims to serve traditional Omani food. The food was not cheap but given the variety of different dishes you can try it was quite a good deal still.
After lunch we continues further west toward Jabel Shams. The name translates to “Mountain of Sun” and it is the highest mountain in Oman and the third highest on the Arabian Peninsula. The access point which can be reached by car is located at 2,000 meter above sea. In other internet reviews I read that 4x4 are required to reach here but we saw several regular cars up here as well.
When standing here the highlight is a Grand Canyon like valley stretching from nearby the mountains top peak of more than 3,000 meters down toward the lower valley. It is not possible to reach the summit of Jabel Shams as there is a military base but several hiking trails lead through the valley or to the second summit (South Summit). The area in the most popular view point is apparently most popular during the hot summer time when people come up here to escape the head in lower levels. Camping amongst friends and families is popular then.
The road leading towards Jebel Shams.
What a view, what a location. Such an awesome place up here at Jabel Shams.
Sunset light over Jebel Shams.
Three hours back to Muscat.
Would I come back here again? YES, its hard to get enough of Oman. Even though things might be pricier than other destinations the people of Oman are wonderful and have a great hospitality. It is by far the most beautiful and authentic country in the region.