[ezcol_1half]Oman Road Trip – Time flies when you are having fun. This saying rings very true as I celebrated my 3 year wedding anniversary in January this year. My husband and I decided to celebrate this special day with a road trip to Oman. Oman is one of the more old-style kingdoms in the Gulf region and the perfect getaway if you are looking for something different. By road, Muscat is a four hour drive from Dubai. You can add an additional hour to your journey as you will need to cross the border. Visas are issued on arrival but you will need to insure your vehicle for Oman beforehand (remember the proof of insurance!).
The northern region of Musandam is well worth the drive as this area boasts a picturesque landscape with fjords and mountains. Our first stop was at the foot of Jebal Akhdar, 150km from Muscat. Jebel Akhdar (The Green Mountain) is part of the AL HAJAR MOUNTAINS range in Oman. The landscape is mostly desert, but at higher altitudes it is moist enough to allow the growth of shrubs and trees and support agriculture. It is this that gives the mountains their “green” name. This is one of Oman’s most spectacular areas.
We arrived at the hotel just after midnight and was delighted to experience a bit of cold in the air. Cold temperatures are rare in the Gulf region so shivering at 7 degrees makes one relish the warmth of a shower and the well-deserved glass of red. The mild climate of this area is ideal for a pleasant summer escape! Waking up to endless canyon views is part of the package when you stay at the Anantar Al Jabal Al Akhdar resort. The hotel hangs over the rocky contours of the Saiq Plateau on the curving rim of the great canyon. It is the highest five-star resort in the Middle East and amongst the highest in the world! Indigenous elements blend effortlessly with world class accommodation and facilities at this resort.
After breakfast we set out to explore the surrounding villages of Bahla, Diana’s Point and Nizwa. The natural beauty of the landscape is never-ending. While having a sundowner on the balcony of our hotel room, we both decided to come back to Anantara. We might go for a hike or join in on the sunrise yoga class next time around.
[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]SHANGRI-LA BARR AL JISSAH RESORT
Barry, my husband, was lucky enough to stay at this resort as part of a competition prize nine years ago. Ever since then, he wanted to go back and I understand why. Think turquoise blue water and majestic mountains. A man-made tunnel through the mountain leads you to the sanctuary of Al Waha. Several swimming pools merging to form a serene oasis with Date palms awaits you as you arrive. Al Bandar Hotel is the focal point of the resort and features a combination of fine restaurants. We experienced true Arabian flavours at the Al Tanoor restaurant. Barry had Kubideh, a Minced lamb kebab with Iranian spices and parsley, served with Iranian dill rice while I had the Dijaj Mashwi – a Omani spiced boneless “baby chicken” roasted in the oven, served with oriental rice. The shops have intricately-designed crafts, jewellery and artwork and I opted for a beautiful beaded clutch bag to take a piece of Oman back home.
The palatial Al Husn is an Arabian palace with enormous rooms and suites. It is well worth the visit and only 15 minutes away from Muscat. We were pleasantly surprised that a variety of activities were included, at no extra cost, as part of our stay. Guests could participate in anything from kayaking to snorkeling, or enjoy an afternoon tea and cocktail hour. You can easily spend your time relaxed on the beach or hop over to the lively atmosphere of restaurants and bars. We opted to relax on the private beach and secured an early spot for snorkeling. All activities are planned and conducted with sensitivity to Oman’s unique ecosystem. The Turtle Care Project aims to protect endangered turtle species native to the beaches of Oman. If you would like to find out more, click here.
Leaving Oman fills one with a sense of nostalgia. The hospitality of Omani culture and the unspoiled landscape makes you wish you could stay a little longer. I am sure there are a thousand tales to tell, this is just one of them.[/ezcol_1half_end]
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