Tourism

Hold onto your commissions, it’s the next big thing in travel!

No it’s not a magical wand to wave so you can score the big bucks, but we’ve got a destination so adventurous it’ll blow your socks off.

Oman.

‘But isn’t Oman all about indulgence and five-star resorts?’ we can hear you say.

Not even close. You see, Oman is actually brimming with a pretty impressive range of attractions, that don’t even consider malls or massages – think authentic, local experiences, and natural wonders for the wild at heart.

And for those seeking to sell the uber popular adventure tours – because we know clients are satisfied with just a flop and drop these days – then we’ve got the mother of all adventure experiences.

No other Gulf region offers such a diverse range of great outdoor adventures across a striking terrain that travels back 500 million years of geological time.

Don’t believe us? Well Oman is looking to send one agent on a trip for two to the Arabian jewel, putting its money where its mouth is.

Thanks to Adventure World, you could win flights and accommodation for two, plus a $2000 MasterCard Cash Passport, snazzy Jack Wolfskin gear and a one-year subscription to get lost magazine.

Here’s the 6 best adventure experiences you’ll find only in Oman.

1. Shaqiya Sands

Wild at Heart or Grand Adventures 4WD Desert

Huge rolling dunes as far as the eye can see makes for a white-knuckle ride dune bashing in 4WD’s at Shaqiya Sands- only two hours from Muscat. Take a quad bike or camel over the dunes and watch the world turn pink and orange with a spectacular desert sun set.

Accommodation here varies from luxury tented camp to more basic options but either way you will relish the time under a thousand stars of the desert night sky.

2. Wadi Bash

Wild at Heart Wadi Shab

Go off-road and experience one of Oman’s fastest growing adventure sports.

Throughout the Sultanate there are many opportunities for travellers to hit the dirt, water and sand dunes in a 4 x 4 wheel drive. And never is off-road driving more popular than when the wadis are awash with lush vegetation and rushing waters after the rains.

All the same, off-road touring is not recommended for unskilled drivers so travellers are recommended to hire experienced guides through tour wholesalers when they want to embark on a wadi bash or an interior trek.

3. Caves and Canyons

Grand Adventures NEW

 For those who like their adventure on the extreme side, the thrill of rock-climbing and abseiling awaits. Climbers from around the globe are drawn to the high peaks of the Hajar mountains, and to the beautiful sea cliffs along the Omani coast. 

First-time climbers can attempt one of several Via Ferrata (‘by wire’) routes which keep them permanently attached to a cable via a harness for maximum safety at Snake Canyon, Jabel Shams and Jabal Akhdar.

One of the largest cave chambers in the world, hidden in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains is Majils al Jinn Cave – roughly the size of seven aircraft hangars. Daring travellers abseil 178 metres from the Cave’s entrance into a darkened abyss.

Al Hoota Caves provide a tamer version at the foot of the Green Mountains also known as Jabal Akhdar. The caves reveal ancient crystals, stalactites and stalagmites as well as darkened underground lakes.

Beyond the cool waters of Wadi Bani Awf – a 10-kilometre drive from the ancient quarter of Al Rustaq – is Snake Canyon, a perfect location for rock climbers, which cuts a deep swathe into the mountain terrain.

Just the very sight of steel cables secured into the rock face (and high wires that teeter 100 metres above jagged gorges) promise thrill seekers plenty of excitement.

4. Take a Hike     

Grand Adventures Anantara Jabel Akhdar Hiking_Model

Avid hikers can base themselves in the mountains and reveal in several trekking paths across the various landscapes of this region.

The challenging terrain of Oman’s ‘Sun Mountain’, Jabal Shams – standing 3009 metres above sea level as the country’s highest mountain peak – is a perfect place to start an adventure tour.

Sprinkled with juniper and olive trees, the mountains offer plenty of gruelling treks and picturesque vistas along with paths that traverse the ancient Bedouin and Shihuh trails – some of which are located on the very edge of the cliffs and are used by remote communities today.

The track known as Balcony Walk leads to a plateau next to the abandoned village of Al Hayl and an oases known as Bir’r Dakhilyah, which shelters a hidden cave.

The trail also takes in numerous promontories, aged falaj systems and terraced farmlands as well as a distant view of Oman’s interior known as the Grand Canyon of Oman – the second deepest canyon in the world, which boasts a sheer drop of over 1000 metres.

Forming part of the central Hajar ranges Jabal Akhdar’s summit – some 2200 metres – offers an adrenaline rush from the moment visitors overlook the rocky ledges into a deep ravine of gullies and ridges.

A two and half hour drive from the capital, Muscat, the mountains are also renowned for their indigenous rock roses (used in perfumes) as well as contrasting mountain scenery – from remote mountain villages and jagged rock formations to thickets of lush vegetation.

Organised tours to Jebel Shams, the Grand Canyon, Snake Canyon, Al Hoota Caves and Jabal Akhdar are available – contact a preferred wholesaler which can package or customise special interest tours, departing from Muscat

5. Marine Magic

Grand Adventure

All along the coast, Oman’s magnificent marine environment draws adventurous travellers with the opportunity to snorkel, scuba dive and kayak in sparkling turquoise waters that support vibrant coral reefs.

In stark contrast to its arid interior, Oman’s waters are teeming with life – turtles, dolphins and whale sharks are all regularly sighted by visitors.

In the early morning, visitors to Muscat can embark on a variety of boating trips to view acrobatic bottlenose dolphins, often numbering in the hundreds and if you are lucky occasionally pods of humpback, sperm or false killer whales.

Oman is currently considered one of the top ten dive spots in the world according to PADI Dive, with divers coming from across the globe to experience the unique combination of dramatic coastal scenery, natural coral reefs and sublime wreck-diving.

The Al Munnassir, an 83m long wreck, rests in only 30m of water less than an hour by boat from Muscat Harbour. It is one of more than 100 quality dive sites located within easy access of the nation’s capital.

Water temperatures are tropical making scuba diving and snorkelling in Oman a brilliant year-round proposition.

For visitors with restricted time Fahal Island located in Muscat’s Qurm region provides perfect diving conditions along with isolated coral reefs, a swim-through cave and a few token stingrays, honeycomb eels and sharks.

Diving off the coast of the Daymaniyat Islands
Diving off the coast of the Daymaniyat Islands

Just 40 minutes by boat from Muscat is Bander Khayran, an area that showcases small fjords and plentiful inlets teeming with a kaleidoscope of coral intermixed with marine life. Also nearby is the Al-Musassir Naval Shipwreck, a naval ship sunk by the Royal Navy of Oman to create an artificial reef.

The Daymaniyat Islands, an archipelago of nine islands famed for their clear turquoise waters, extensive coral reefs and abundant marine life, is another highly prized diving and snorkelling spot.

Take the opportunity to camp overnight and go on a number of dives- including a night dive but be warned that access is limited as this is a protected nature reserve so you will need a permit or to book with a registered tour operator.

For more marine action Oman’s far north is a stunning, isolated land of Arabian fjords. The Musandam Peninsula, three-hour drive from Dubai and separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates, is a dramatic landscape best seen from the deck of a boat with dolphins swimming alongside.

It is nature at its most exceptional – unspoiled through the ages and teeming with spectacular marine life and coral reefs.

6. Get Airborne

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For a hint of the untamed, visitors can enjoy an array of surfing and kitesurfing at Azaiba Beach near Muscat – one of the fastest growing and extreme water sports to be enjoyed in the Gulf’s warm waters.

One of the best places in the world for kitesurfing in Oman is the more remote Masirah Island.  Undisturbed by human influence, this island a sanctuary of nature for flamingos in their natural habitat and is the world’s second-largest breeding ground for sea turtles.

Situated in the Indian Ocean, it offers ideal conditions for kite surfing, especially in summer. Between May and September, the strength of wind is over 20 knots as a rule which keeps temperatures under 33° C even if other parts of Oman report temperatures of up to 40° C or more.

The island has the only kitesurfing academy in the Gulf and you can camp out on the island in Bedouin style tents.

Whether visitors choose to climb Oman’s rock faces, abseil down into ancient caves, splash in the rushing waters of a wadi or bump along miles of rocky terrain, the extent of Oman’s adventure activities will surpass expectations.

There’s simply no other place in the Arabian Gulf that offers so many choices for adventure seekers.

 

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