Photography by Moritz Lips. Written by Oliver Lips.
About a week ago Moritz, a friend of ours and myself set out to discover Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. After a short stop in Dubai with SWISS we arrived there on Thursday evening and were welcomed with pleasant 23 degrees.
As we were only staying in Muscat for three nights we wanted to do as much as possible so we got up early the next morning and headed out to Muttrah a district in the province of Muscat and approximately a 15 minutes car drive from the city center. It is famous for its port, the fish market and the Souq, one of the oldest marketplaces in the Arab world.
On our first day we only took taxis to get around town, which we soon discovered would be pretty expensive even if we’d only stay there for a few days. So we rented a car for about US$ 45 per day, when converted.
One of the must-sees in the Oman are the Wadi (valleys). There are several springs somewhere in the desert that create those amazing oases. Some of the closest to Muscat are the Wadi Al Arbiyeen, Wadi Bani Khalid and Wadi Shab. We noticed too late that we’d need a four-wheel drive to reach the first two Wadi, so we headed out to Wadi Shab on Saturday. It is a two hours drive towards Tiwi and will mostly take you through spectacular deserted land. The entrance to the valley lies beneath a highway bridge. From there you take a small boat to the other side where the tour starts. You won’t need a guide it’s easy to go there yourself, but the trip is quite adventurous as there are no real trails. It was something none of us had ever seen – left and right high cliffs and in the middle this green oasis with palm trees and other plants. As you walk further into the valley you will discover all those beautiful and clear fresh water lakes. We hiked for about 1.5 hours in one direction and could’ve gone further, but we didn’t quite know how far it would actually take us and since the sun was already starting to set we headed back.
Filled with amazing impressions, tired and hungry we drove to Tiwi not far from the Wadi Shab. We sat down in a restaurant and weren't quite sure what exactly we had ordered since the innkeeper only spoke very little English, but it turned out to be one of the best meals we would get on our trip! – very simple based upon meat, rice, vegetables and served with fresh home made flat bread. We sat outside and it seemed as if we were the only tourists in this small village, but it was fun to watch the villager’s life at night. The only ones on the street were men, no signs of women at all, unlike in Muscat. From what I’ve heard the Oman is considered liberal compared to other Islamic countries in this region. You will see women wearing the hijab (covering only the hair), niqab (covering forehead and mouth, but leaving the eyes uncovered) and burqa (covering forehead and mouth as well as a semi-transparent cloth covering the eyes), but also women without veiling, though mostly expatriates and tourists.
Apart from some sight seeing in the morning we spent our Sunday relaxing by the beach and soaking up some sun, before it was time to head back to the European winter! In the evening then we were invited to discover one of the most famous hotels in Muscat, The Chedi. Following the tour around the hotel we all sat down by the pool and enjoyed a delicious dinner to conclude this short, but magical trip to the Oman!
10th to 13th December 2015
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