Oman – A fleeting photo tour

Racing around any continent, country or city is not ideal; it rarely provides any genuine travel experience. In this case it really was a race however as part of a treasure hunt organised by Oman Air, which was another experience altogether.

The Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Entrance to the Grand Mosque

Whilst there was little opportunity to really explore during the whistle-stop tour, we still managed to visit some amazing places and witness a beautiful country.

Meeting people is also a large part of enjoying a destination, the opportunity to discover the country through them is a travel highlight. Although time did not really allow this it soon became clear from the little interaction that was possible that they are a warm, friendly and welcoming nation.

The Sultanate of Oman Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Answering the call to prayer

Despite the limited time available at each place only providing a fleeting glimpse of Omani life the trip did demonstrate the diversity of landscape and terrains.

“envisage the roar of past battles”

The bustling capital Muscat of Oman acted as the ‘start line’ with visits to the Grand Mosque, impressive opera house, palaces, museums and the important souk at Muttrah. It is almost certainly where most tourists visit. They were as intrigued as the locals by our rushing through most of the attractions with a camera team in tow.

Cannons in Nizwa fort in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Cannon eye view of Nizwa

Visiting one of Oman’s oldest cities Nizwa and the nearby villages was one of my favourite days. The city has a lovely old fort which dates back to the 17th century providing great views of the city, surrounded by date palms and distant hills. It still has the cannons in place and an active imagination can envisage the roar of past battles. The air-filled with smoke from the fort armoury, the heady, caustic smell of gunpowder hanging in the air and whistles from the awesome destructive cannonballs creating terror and mayhem within the ranks of the enemy.

The souk is one of Oman’s most important. Particularly famous for artisan produced goods and the products farmed from the fertile land in which the city lies. Some locals informed us that there is a livestock market on Friday mornings, which was very useful on Wednesday!

The souk at Nizwa  in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Pottery on display in Nizwa

Seeking clues in the authentic village of Misfat, among its narrow, steep and stepped streets with an ancient irrigation system known as a falaj was possibly where everybody wanted to linger most. It is a lovely village, the houses almost having a troglodyte appearance but before long the impressive rock formations of Al Hoot Cave had me catching my breath. The lion’s head is a remarkably apt name as it is hard to imagine it as anything else.

The falaj irrigation system of Misfat Hajar mountains near Nizwa  in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Washtime in Misfat falaj

Al Hoot cave near Nizwa,  in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

The Lion’s head rock formation Al Hoot Cave

“It may not make the indie top ten”

Nights spent in the mountains at Jabal Al Akhdar and in the desert provided stunning views of majestic dunes with some of the most fantastic sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen. Our Bedouin desert dinner consisted of lamb slow cooked for two days in the sand, was accompanied by traditional music, dancing and singing. It may not make the indie top ten but it was still cool entertainment.

Oman Sahra alrub' alkhali desert, the Wahiba Sands in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Experiencing real dunes at last

The coastal town of Sur was the next stop, although stop is hardly accurate. Yet another place that would be great to explore with a small lighthouse, and a boatyard building traditional dhows.

Jabal al Akhdar mountains of the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Sunset over Jabal al Akhdar

Having to leave Sur so quickly was a little disappointing, however arriving at the stunning entrance to Wadi Shab more than made amends for the fleeting visit. It was the high tide so it required a ferry ride to the far side, before hiking a little further into the chasm. The steep walls were punctuated with caves,  emerald-green pools lined the base, and palm trees formed oases among the rock strewn landscape. This seemed the perfect spot to hang a hammock, sip on pre-mixed mojitos and spend a night, though not that night unfortunately!

Wadi Shab in the Sultanate Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Wadi Shab

To reach the ‘finish line’ required a flight to Salalah, located in the southern Dhofar region of the country. It is an entirely different environment, and climate than the north. It is very green here and there are miles of rugged coastline, with a string of sandy bays. It is also Oman’s second largest city much of which remains unexplored by the hunt participants. There are several archaeological sites and a Frankincense museum suitable for a country famed as the ‘home’ of the incense.

Wadi Shab near Sur, in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Entrance to Wadi Shab

“Beauty has an address”

Oman Air had invited some of us to stay a couple more days and being able to visit the Muscat Festival and the nearby fishing town of Seeb at leisure was the perfect end to the trip. Being able to explore and meet some of the local people left me smiling all the way through the flight home.

Salalah, in the Dhofar region of the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

The airport road Salalah

The Sultanate has the slogan; “Beauty has an address” as part of its new advertising campaign. Even with the fleeting glimpse which afforded to us, it is easy to fall in love with Oman and a return to properly explore will hopefully be possible soon.

Hills and forts in the mountains of Hajar, the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Omani hilltop forts

Whilst I was a grateful guest of Oman Air and the sultanates Ministry of Tourism they did not influence my thoughts therefore all opinions as always are my own.

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    2. Kalpana

      February 18th I don’t go on many press trips, in part because I live in the U.S. and write only about Europe. It slimpy isn’t practical (or pleasant) to fly to Europe for a typical long-weekend trip. Even a trip of a week or 10 days needs to be unusually interesting if the destination involves a two- or three-leg airline trip of 15 hours or more.Still, I think group press trips can be useful, and I’ve done quite a few DMO-sponsored trips to some of our site’s featured destinations like Germany and Switzerland. For me, a group press trip is like a chef’s tasting menu that may inspire future trips on my own or with my wife. I also get to see places that I might not get around to visiting otherwise (e.g., out-of-the-way, low-profile towns or places that are difficult to reach without renting a car and driving, which I’m seldom in a mood to do).As for the Oman trip, it wasn’t a press trip according to the accepted meaning of that term, and it obviously shouldn’t have been advertised as such. With luck, the Oman Air folks will plan things more thoroughly before handing out invitations in the future, and there won’t be any need to journalists to feel they they’ve been tricked into being unwitting (and unpaid) participants in a TV reality show.This incident does bring up an interesting point, though: Journalists may feel quite legitimately that a press trip is about gathering information, not about participating in a broadcast stunt (Oman’s treasure hunt ), supplying content for a host’s Web site (a recent Wales trip), or tweeting for a host’s social media campaign. Bloggers, especially those who regard blogs as social media (or who view a sponsored trip as payment in kind, as opposed to business travel), may have a different perspective. DMOs and travel vendors need to be careful in distinguishing between promotional trips and press trips when making announcements or sending out invitations. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a promotional trip or media event, but a writer who thinks he’s been invited on a trip to gather information for his own articles won’t be happy if he finds out that his actual role is to be a participant in SURVIVOR XXI: Bloggers in Borneo.

  1. Sabina

    Salalah, Oman is one of my all-time favorite places in the world. It’s soo exotic and peaceful. I love Muscat too and Nizwa was fantastic, although it was about 40 degrees while I was walking around there at high noon. I’ll be blogging about Salalah very soon!

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      Iain

      This is my second visit to Salalah Sabina, it was a little rushed this time, ok very rushed but it was still a great experience. Definitely cooler when we visited.

  2. Alan Gandy

    I’m lucky enough to travel to Oman fairly regularly on business and really love the place. The landscape can be pretty spectacular, but the thing I love most is the people. It’s a wonderfully friendly, relaxed and hospitable nation! It’s a country deserving of much more tourist traffic.

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  3. Patrick BIAGINI

    Hi Iain,

    I hope your going well.
    I was looking again for news about our crazy trip together in oman, but can’t find anything, except old stocks…
    Do you have any news from Oman air or any TV crew accomaning us during the trip ?
    Do you know if they use the stock-shots to make a TV show or don’t know what….?
    Let me know please and tell me too if you cross through France during your crazy life….

    Congratulation for your pictures. The one f you I took….hem… you wont like to see it I think, cause when you’re drunk it’something…!
    The warmest

    Patrick

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      Iain

      Hi Patrick great to hear from you. Thank you for the photos comment and replied to your Oman query via email. I was actually in Poitiers, Cognac and Aix in the Poitou-Charentes region just two weeks ago.

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  4. Jessica

    I saw Muscat featured on the show The Amazing Race and ever since seeing it I have been smitten with the idea
    of going to see it for myself. Your images further re-enforce this notion. While your trip was fleeting, it defintely looks
    like you saw a real nice collection of sights, especially that Wadi.

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