DISCOVERING OMAN – A TRAVEL GUIDE BY RACHEL GILL

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Discover Oman through the lens of our favorite photographer Cameron Hammond & words by his wife/agent/producer/world nomad Rachel Gill
Together they are traveling the world on the hunt for unexplored territories – follow them on their journey here on Faithfull Travels 

Oman always conjures up images of traditional Arabia.  A land just awakening to tourism and a place known for it’s dramatic landscape and classic Omani hospitality. I decided I had to see this mysterious place for myself, and when Cam and I found ourselves in Dubai on a week-long stopover on our way to Europe, a road trip seemed like an excellent idea.  After grabbing our friends Jo and Max, who live in Dubai (a little local knowledge to help us along!) we hired a car, hit and road and readied ourselves for adventure.  I packed my bags full of culturally sensitive Faithfull garments, that would cover my knees and shoulders in order to respect the local custom.

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First stop, the Mussandam Peninsula and main town, Khasab.  Do not miss this charming town in the Mussandam, an enclave of Oman surrounded by the UAE and the gateway to the Straight of Hormuz leading to Iran.  There is never a more unspoilt glimpse into the Omani way of life than this place!  Loose yourself wandering the quiet residential streets, where locals are desperate to wave, offer sweets and escort you along to the next street. 

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STAY / EAT

Book yourself into the Khasab Hotel, a basic but charming traditional hotel in town (www.khasabhotel.net), and eat at seemingly the only sit-down restaurant, Telegraph Restaurant.  If you prefer a more 5-star experience, the Golden Tulip Resort in Dibba is incredible. (www.goldentulip.com/en/hotels/golden-tulip-resort-dibba)

A week in Muscat would have been ideal, but I was short on time so it had to be hello and goodbye before heading south into the Wahiba Sands, the Arabian Penisula’s tallest sand dunes.  There are many options to choose from in terms of desert camps, but I love Desert Nights Camp, where you can have a luxurious, 5-star glamping experience nestled in some of the more spectacular dunes in the area.  Their restaurant features delicious buffet-style Arabian comfort food, and a drive up the dunes to watch the sun set is complimentary.  We all managed to drag ourselves out of bed early in order to have the surreal experience of wandering the dunes in the sunrise. (www.omanhotels.com/desertnightscamp/)

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Wahiba Sands

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EXPLORE

A dhow trip with Dolphin Tours (www.dolphinkhasabtours.com) through the khors (fjords) is a must do to really breathe in the dramatic landscape while you sip Omani tea and excitedly spot the occasional dolphin chasing the boat.

Dhow Trip

Leaving the Mussandam, re-enter the UAE and head down the coast, crossing back into Oman before reaching Muscat, the beautiful capital city of the Sultanate of Oman.  Head to the souk to explore the local goods on offer, and to cool down afterwards a drink on the rooftop of the Marina Hotel is a must-do to savour the view over the city as the sun sets.  If you have time, a visit to the Grand Mosque is also an unforgettable experience.  Remember to cover your head if you are female, and you arms to your wrists and legs to your ankles for both men and women.  

Grand Mosque

Beautiful jewelry at a local street stall

Rounding out my road-trip adventure was a trip to Wadi Bin Khalid.  A wadi is a beautiful desert oasis, and Oman is dotted with some of the most beautiful ones in the Arabian Peninsula.  About 30 minutes from the dunes, the winding cliff-hugging road comes to a conclusion revealing date palms dotted among bright emerald-green water.  A refreshing swim near the top of the wadi away from prying eyes is a welcome relief from the 42 degree day.  Be aware that females must wear a t-shirt over their swimming suit when swimming in the lower pools, but if you are keen to climb higher there are more private spots where one can swim in a bikini with little chance of hassle.

Wadi Bin Khalid

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In summary, Oman is a must-visit destination if you want to experience traditional Arabia.

Written by Rachel Gill + Photos by Cameron Hammond 

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