Oh man, Oman

As I seem to so often whine at the start of many of my blog entries, I have been so very busy guys, thus the lack of updating. I also haven’t been doing anything terribly interesting. So, there’s that.

We had a long holiday weekend for Eid Al Adha a couple weeks ago – actually, more like a month ago – that I filled with a quick tripette to Oman. And I really feel like Oman can do pretty much no wrong. Muscat in particular grows on me significantly with each passing visit. Often when in Muscat, I am shacked up in The Chedi, with little interest in leaving. As we weren’t staying there this time (wah) more time was spent around the city than usual, and I felt like I got a much better feel for it than I had in the past. One of the things that I really love about Muscat so much is that they seem to have utilized their waterfront areas much better than Dubai has. There are chilled out little cafes just off the sand, a long park filled with people cooking amazing-smelling foods and and a lovely old corniche (where you’ll often get to feast your eyes on Sultan Qaboos’ super yacht – one of the largest in the world).

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falaj and swampy wadi at Tiwi

I had never been to two of Muscat’s more popular hotels, the Grand Hyatt or the InterCon, so decided it was high time to give them a try. I loved the Grand Hyatt’s beachfront view from a poolside tiki bar (great people watching both in and outside of the hotel grounds), but I think that the InterCon edged the Hyatt out with their chilled out and unpretentious  poolside bar set in a forest-like garden. Relaxing to the extreme.

The city’s residential neighborhood’s really hooked me as well – how nice to live a stone’s throw from the beach and nice little cafes in Shatti Al Qurum or even a bit further inland, in Madinat Sultan As Qaboos, with sea and mountain views from the balcony. Or, best yet – a fancy beach-side villa in the ridiculously wow diplomatic neighborhood. I have to admit, at times I find it very frustrating to be living in Dubai while the Muscat lifestyle taunts me just over the border.

Outside of Muscat, we decided to head down south along the coast to have a go at camping. We were hoping to set up on a beach around Sur, and maybe catch a glimpse of some sea turtles, but no such luck. We eventually settled on a clifftop near Fins, with the crystal clear Gulf of Oman crashing against the rocks below us. Even from far above (I would say at least 20-25 feet?) you could still clearly see colorful fish swimming in the water below.

11fins
fishes!
10fins
our camping site near Fins

While looking for a camping spot, we stopped at some incredible wadis between Muscat and Sur. In my time here on the Arabian Peninsula, I have never seen any wadis like the ones I saw during this trip. It was, to me, not even a wadi, but something venturing into swamp territory. Seriously. And there were frog noises (I saw no frogs, but they were certainly there), white egrets, dragonflies – things that are very much not desert-like.

We first stopped at Wadi Shab, which was just off the coast and very easy to access. It was huge, but also extremely busy and, sadly, full of garbage from holiday picnicers. We didn’t stick around. There was an amusing Che Guevara graffiti, though.

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Next up was Wadi Tiwi, which was also full, but not quite as badly. It looked stunning, so after a brief peek around, we left but decided to return early the following morning before anyone else had arrived. The morning trip back uncovered seriously verdant surrounds and a tranquil little village, full of very active falaj. This was undoubtedly the most beautiful wadi I had ever seen. If you’re in the Muscat area and want to have a look at a veritable oasis, Tiwi is the place. I think it was only about an hour’s drive south of Muscat and very easy to access.

15waditiwi
Tiwi’s waterfront real estate

On the way back to Muscat we also checked out Wadi Suwayah. This was one was a bit more difficult to get to than the other two (it was further into the mountains, after a long dusty, rocky road) but was worth it. After finally reaching the wadi, we were greeted with something more like a small lake. There wasn’t much exploring to be done in the area, which consists of the lake-like wadi surrounded by cliffisides, and a very small village, but the clear and apparently very deep waters, would be excellent for some cliff diving.

21wadisuwayh
A small portion of what was practically a lake at Suwayah

…and a month later we were back to Oman for a visa run. Now that the weather is perfect for outdoor exploration, we made our way to an area beyond the Hili border post in Al Ain called Wadi Kitnah. Again, a ridiculously stunning area. It’s amazing what awaits you once you cross the border into Oman. Stupidly, I deleted the few photos that I took from my phone already, so a couple Instagram shots will have to do.

kitnah02

There are two areas within the Kitnah wadi that you can visit (possible more) and both are gorgeous. One was filled with smaller pools, and was reminiscent of a creek, with bubbling water, frogs jumping all around  and water trickling down boulders overgrown with small plant life. The other area was filled with narrow canyons holding deep, crystal clear pools of water. You couldn’t explore part of the area very well without swimming (and I didn’t) as the pools were set deep within steep canyon walls and there was nowhere to walk. However, in the other direction, the wadi opened up, and after scrambling around some rocks you’ll find yourself at a deep pool that is perfect for cliff jumping. Scramble along some more rocks further into the wadi, and the water slowly trickles to a stop as you find yourself at the base of the high, red walls of a canyon.

kitnah01
red dragonflies and crystal pools in Kitnah

kitnah03

Any recommendations for fab wadis in the UAE-Omani border area are very welcome, so please don’t hesitate to share your favorite wadi spots with me! There must be endless amazing options out there.

And it’s quite blowy and grey this morning – exciting weather for Dubai. It would be nice to see some rain come this way soon (although hopefully not while I’m driving). Shit. It just started raining and thundering, and I need to leave for work.

[Oman wadi photo album]

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2 thoughts on “Oh man, Oman

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