Eid al-Fitr in Oman

eid crescent moon over nizwa

A  very toasty Eid al-Fitr (the festival/holiday that marks the end of Ramadan) was spent in Oman this year.  We decided to break-in (although hopefully not break-break) the SUV in the country’s wadis and mountains, although some time was spent in Muscat, too.  And also hoped it would be cooler in said areas.  It was not.  Cannot wait for summer weather to be over.  Hopefully by early or mid-October we’ll have some weather you can spend time outdoors in comfortably…

Oman was predictably nice, although the drive there and ordeal to get through the border leaves something to be desired.

Muscat was pretty much the usual – have a look around town (I checked out the Sultan’s palace, which I had not seen before) and then find some curry and booze in the evening.  Nothing of great interest.

entrance to the sultan’s palace in muscat

After Muscat a move from the seaside into the Hajjar mountains and Nizwa, where I had hoped for cooler weather.  Disappointingly, it was not at all cooler, except for near the top of Jabal Shams (which you access from a windy dirt road), the highest peak in Oman and located near Nizwa.  The views and canyon up there were pretty fantastic, too.  You certainly weren’t very tempted to step too close to the edge of the gorges to get a closer look at the often shocking drop.

the goats were cool with the hanging out on the edge, though
a long way down

On the way back down Jabal Shams, dark clouds began to gather, and to my surprise it began to rain (rain? in summer? unheard of!).  We had a fairly decent downpour for some time.  Most people would complain when rain unexpectedly shows its face while you’re traveling or on holiday, but not when you live in a sandpit.  It’s a real treat.  It could hardly have come at a more dangerous time however, as we had to pass through wadis at the base of the mountain and there were strong warnings against going anywhere near them if it even looked like it might rain in the general vicinity.  No flash floods this time though; I escaped with my life.

miraculously, water fell from the sky

On the way back to Nizwa from Jabal Shams, we decided to stop by a couple other locations to take in the scenery – Misfat Al Abryeen, the oldest village in Oman, clinging to a mountainside with terraces of date palms…

i would totally have a weekend villa there

…and Wadi Tanuf.  Which after a very long, rocky drive through the bed of the wadi, we finally arrived at a little village with more date palm terraces and falaj (irrigation) systems.  It’s unfortunate that I do not like dates.

path through the falaj and date palms in wadi tanuf

That evening, back in Nizwa, we set out to find some shawarma (and I also was hankering manakeesh, but that hankering went unfulfilled) and strolled through the very traditional streets and fort in town.  Dubai it was not.

nizwa – a good place to buy pottery
on the way to the mosque

To break up the pretty much excruciatingly boring drive back to Dubai the next day, I was insistent to stop by Wadi Damm to check out the ancient beehive tombs, dating from as far back as the 3rd millennium BC (yah, fine, cool, whatever) – but what I really wanted was to hop into the wadi pools surrounded by hanging green moss and other planty lushness that is not usual for this region, that the Oman Off-Road Explorer book tantalizingly showed photos of.

really old beehive tombs @ al ayn, near wadi damm
thar be pools down in that wadi…but i sure couldn’t find them

Never found the pools though.  Apropos, I guess, considering “damm/dham” means “hidden” in Arabic.  I really want to go back and have another look though; maybe in the spring, after the rainy season.  Also when it’s not 105-110 °F out.

yet another date palm farm – this one with impressively steep jabal misht in the background

{ Full photo album from this trip can be found HERE }

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