Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oman Cruises – Fun With Nature

Muscat, capital of the Sultanate of Oman is an ancient port city. It is located on one arm of the Arabian Sea, known as the Gulf of Oman. Oman in itself is a unique blend of ancient Arabian Islamic influence and modern civilization.  It is surrounded by mountains on one side and an enormous coastline on the other. The interiors have a dramatic landscape with endless deserts and rolling plains. Besides being an important harbour and the landing point for many Oman cruises, Muscat is also the largest city in the country.

Speaking of cruises, the Dhow Cruise in the Straits of Hormuz in Oman was featured in the ‘Top 10 Sailing Cruises’ in the world list published by National Geographic. This cruise takes a traveller into the Musandam Peninsula at the northernmost edge of Oman where it runs into the Straits of Hormuz that guard the entrance of the Persian Gulf. As one takes a trip across this amazing coast in a traditional narrow wooden boat, called a dhow, they can also enjoy swimming and diving into the waters which are teeming with rich aquatic life. All through the cruise, mountains rise right out of the sea and create inlets for the water. The area is dotted by small secluded villages which are accessible only through boats.

As the image which most people have is that of a desert nation. When they finally visit Oman cruises tend to take them by surprise. In fact the Musandam Peninsula itself is also famous for a very different kind cruise. This cruise is taken through a Kayak or a rowing boat. As one paddles or rows through the Fjord Khor Sham, the natural beauty is almost overwhelming. In fact it happens quite often that travellers express the desire to stay there forever. Two seater kayaks or row boats are perfect for couples who wish to spend a romantic day together, away from the world, in secluded bays and coves of these spectacular Fjords. An amazing aspect of the cruise is the active sea life below, including dolphins and the chirping of beautiful birds above. However it is advised that travellers should have some experience in kayaking or rowing trips, since they are usually not accompanied by any guides. The price for such cruises differs at different times of the year and is high during the Eid, Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays.

While you are in Musandam, it would not be a bad idea to engage yourself in a little sport fishing. Fishing is one of the oldest sports in history and it never goes out of style. Trip coordinators provide the tourists with fishing lines and other necessary equipment and accessories. Once you are ready then comes the most exciting part, travelling to the fishing destination. This is because tourists are taken to the fishing areas in nifty little speed boats. Once there, one can enjoy fishing all day long and then return the same way. Full day fishing trips last around six hours, though you can opt for a shorter trip of four hours.

No list of Oman cruises would be complete without mention of the dhow cruise to Khor Sham. Khor Sham is a majestic fjord surrounded by tall mountains and pristine white sandy beaches. The azure waters take the dhow and passengers to remote locations, the tranquillity of which is matched by only a few other places on earth. What make the cruise truly perfect are the playful dolphins which greet travellers at the entrance to the fjord. During the course of the day, the cruise will halt at specific locations to let the passengers enjoy swimming and snorkelling with the hundreds of varieties of colourful fish.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Exciting Excursions in Oman

Oman is becoming a popular tourist destination. It is not surprising, given the wide range of tourist attractions that the sultanate has to offer. From wadis, deserts, beaches and mountains to forts, castles and souqs make Oman a unique country among its neighbouring nations. As a tourist in Oman you’ll be overwhelmed by the variety of activities you’ll find, like sand skiing in the desert, scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking, surfing and sailing, cave exploration, bird-watching, bull fighting, and camel races.  So in order to get the best out of your trip, without any time or money waste, you should contact a touristic agent to help you choose the best excursions in Oman for your adventure thirst.

If you are looking to get a taste of the rich heritage of Oman, you should take the tour to the Nakhl Oasis and its fort. This tour will take you from the impressive Fort at the Nakhl oasis through the warm springs at Thowarah, lush plantations of palm trees and small mountain villages and finally to the Bilad Sayt village. You will also get to explore Wadi Sahtan, with its famous rock paintings.

A Safari is the perfect expedition for you if you are more of an intrepid traveller. Safaris will take you through untraveled paths through sand dunes and rugged mountain areas. You’ll be meandering through the entrancing Hajar Mountains to the famous water pools in Wadi Abyad. Then you’ll enjoy a thrilling dune drive and be rewarded at the end with a scrumptious barbecue dinner.

If travelling for you is always a learning experience where you experience a place’s history first-hand then the coastal tour to Bibi Myriam is definitely for you. Like most other excursions in Oman, this expedition starts in Muscat before heading to Quriyat with the beautiful beaches that make this coastal town famous. Here you can take pictures at the Sinkhole, which is a part of a mountain that collapsed and is now filled with sea water. Then you’ll get to see the White Beach and the Wadi Shab on your way to the picturesque village of Tiwi. After a delicious picnic lunch, you’ll get to the historical site of Bibi Myriam.

For people who enjoy when visiting other countries, the shopping tour will be a delight with a mixture of old and new Muscat. You’ll find the perfect balance between fully air-conditioned malls, which are brightly lit and clean, and the colourful, busy and traditional markets. This expedition will take you to Oman’s largest indoor market, the famous Al Dhalam Souk, located along the coast at Muttrah corniche.

You will find exquisite silver jewellery, daggers with incredibly intricate hand-work, and other typical handicrafts at this Souk, which is built in a traditional style. You will also visit two shopping centres that house traditional souks. In both places you will find silver jewellery, leather goods, silk rugs, trinkets and Omani silver handicrafts, that make for excellent souvenirs.  Here, trying Omani Halwa, a delicious traditional treat made from dates, rose water and cardamom, is a must. At the Amouage factory, your senses will be teased by the great variety of scents, discovering all the secrets behind the world’s most valuable perfume.

Before booking any of these expeditions in Oman, make sure you know what is included in the price and what is not. Most of them include hotel pick-ups, an experienced English speaking driver and guide and lunch or dinner. Remember that tips and gratuities, personal expenses and souvenirs are rarely included. Ask for optional activity costs. More importantly, regardless of the type of expedition you choose, be prepared to let excursions in Oman surprise you with its natural diversity, cultural richness and historical value.