Nature's holiday land Oman
We planned for Oman trip and booked our flight tickets-Bahrain to Muscat, Muscat to Salalah round trip. Hotel accommodation was booked. Now we need to plan the itinerary.I searched the internet for itineraries and also the places to visit. There ended our preparation for the trip. On reaching Muscat, we rented a car from Budget Cars as no other car rental agency had any cars. We asked for directions to our hotel Al Maha International hotel in Al Ghubrah. We drove for a long time following the directions we received and we felt we almost lost the route. We stopped and asked few people and continued driving and finally reached the hotel. After check in, we again continued to Saravana Bhavan hotel in Ruwi to have dinner.
Next day we planned to cover the places covered by the Big Bus tours. We had breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast was not great as there were many Non vegetarian dishes leaving us vegetarians with less choice. We first visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which was very close to our hotel.Then from there we left for Al Qurrum Park.The Park had a big fountain, but it would be switched on only in the evening. There were few gym equipments which could be operated without electricity in the park. We just went around the park and left for Al Qurrum beach. The beach was shallow , but we didn’t go in the water , just clicked some pics.We then went to Royal Opera House .Took the photos from outside and left for Matrah.But later my Colleague told me , we can enter the Opera House even if there is no Programme and also visit the restaurants inside..Matrah souq was closed and supposed to be open only at 4 pm.So we took photos at the Corniche and had lunch in a restaurant (the only restaurant that was open) near the Matrah souq. We drove through the Matrah fort, Museum and left for Al Alam Palace. There are two sides to the Palace. We visited 1 side near the 2 forts and left .But on the way to the View point of the port; we saw the other side and stopped by. Then went to the viewpoint and drove past the parliament and other big palace to Ruwi.
We reached the hotel and left for Saravana Bhavan again for dinner. We bought sim card for GPRS and internet access. Next day we left for Nizwa using the GPRS, roads were very good. There were 2 Major roads in Muscat. One is the Muscat expressway; this connects all the places nearby Muscat and the other Sultan Qaboos highway ....As long as you are on these roads you cannot get lost.
Nizwa is a 2 hour drive from Muscat. Nizwa is an old city and was the capital of Oman before Muscat. We went inside the Souq and then discovered that the Nizwa fort and castle are also just behind the souq. The souq had all beautiful pottery and the lovely lamps. Nizwa fort had a small museum inside. The fort had big rooms and the terrace had stairs to climb up and watch over the outside. The Fort had a mechanism of watching from upstairs for people who come near the entrance and to shoot them or even pour boiling oil over the enemies. The castle had a dates room where dates bags are arranged one over the other, dates juice is extracted naturally due to the weight of the bags lying on top of it. This juice was channelled through channels built. There were rooms for the shepherd. The sheep without the owner were brought to the fort and when the owners came, the owners were fined for their irresponsibility. The fort had a prison too. The castle had kitchen, guest rooms, room of the king and queen, Children’s room, mosque with place to wash legs before prayer. The fort had a coffee grinder too from Britain.
From Nizwa we drove to Bahla fort.Bahla fort was very big with separate buildings.Bahla fort is in the UNESCO list of Heritage sites. The fort also had dates room, rooms for reading, many round pillars. The site had 2 storeyed buildings. From Bahla we left for Hoota caves, but only on reaching there we found that the caves were closed for maintenance. We then we left for Wadi Ghul as we had many places to visit from there. But GPRS didn’t give the directions and there were no directions on the way either. We wanted to visit the Diana point, Jebel Mountains. But we couldn’t reach Wadi Ghul even after travelling a long distance.So we returned back to Nizwa.We couldn’t find Falaj Daris either, the biggest natural water system.So we halted and had all snacks in our bag for the late lunch and continued to Muscat. It rained on the way and we had early dinner as we already skipped lunch and reached hotel.
Next day we left for Al Daiqah Dam. The Dam was really good with green water and a lovely garden. From there we went to the place where the water was flowing out from the dam and took some photos. In Oman, wherever we went we saw people camping and picnicking. They were so organised in planning for the picnic. We left to Bimmah sink hole. The sink hole was really like a big well. The water was clean and looks like the water was getting replenished.On the way back, we went to the beach.The beach had a lot of urchins. The beach was clean and green. From there we left for Matrah souq as we couldn’t go there last time. Then we shopped around Matrah souq and went to the Shiva temple near Matrah and left for Ruwi, had dinner again in Saravana Bhavan and left for the hotel.
Next day we left for Nakhal fort.It was 1 hour drive from Muscat. The fort had many guns in all the rooms. The guns were iron casted and heavy. The fort was a small one.Just close by is the hot spring Ain Thwarah.The whole area near the spring was a picnic spot with people swimming, cooking,camping,singing.From there we left to hotel, Checked out and had lunch. Then we went to Al Qurrum beach and from there to Oman Oil and Petroleum Exhibition, but unluckily it was closed. Read that Oman Oil and Petroleum Exhibition is very informative and very good. So we left for the airport many hours before, returned the car and left to Salalah.
In Salalah, we were picked by the Hotel Haffa House from the airport. We skipped dinner then we slept and woke up next day. The hotel looked a little old. The room was big, but the AC didn’t give any cooling and also it made enough noise to be compared with a powerful motor. The room also smelled of some rustic flavour. We struggled to sleep the first day. The breakfast at the hotel was very good. It was even better than our hotel in Muscat.
After Breakfast, we had to rent a car, so we went to Airport which is around 1-2 kms from Haffa House by walk. We rented a Mazda 6 new car and did some shopping to buy water and left to Mirbat.Our first stop in Mirbat was the Mirbat fort. The fort was closed but it was on the sea shore, so we took few photos and left for the Tomb of Zuhayr. There was a big graveyard next to the tomb. Then we left for the Tawi Atayr Sink hole or Well of Birds.
On the way to sink hole we saw the anti gravity road. There were many cars going slowly on either side of the road. So we tried driving in neutral gear, and left for the sink hole. The sink hole unlike the one near Muscat was too deep and also too huge. We couldn’t really see the water except for the crater. I read that there are many varieties of species of water life in the sink hole. After this sink hole we tried to go to Tayq cave but after driving for some time, we couldn’t find the way, so we returned back to the viewpoint, which was on the way towards the sink hole. From here we again drove along the anti gravity road for few minutes and left for Sumhuram Village.
Sumhuram Village is on the UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s an archaeological park. We drove inside the park, and then stopped to see the main building. There was a Temple of Sun, other small rooms. Without a guide its difficult to appreciate the place. The park is just adjacent to a Water lake. Its green water was very refreshing. The Park has separate buildings for Labourers. It had a museum with all the posters. From there we returned to the Taqah fort/Khor Rawri .Taqah fort was also closed. We skipped our lunch today too.We asked the locals about Wadi Darbat waterfall nearby and they said there is no water in this season there.Also the map showed a backwater nearby, but the locals said that there is nothing like that. Hence we left for the Museum of the Land of Frankinsence.Then we realised that the site Al Baleed which is an archaeological park and also one of the UNESCO Heritage sites is also inside the same place.We first went inside the museum, but we must have seen the park first. Because after the museum when we wanted to go see the ancient site, it was dark and we could hardly understand stuffs.The museum had separate halls for architecture,coins,ships,gifts,etc.The site had separate cities , surrounded by backwater and it was used as a port .It was a big walk around the site and then we returned to the hotel.
After getting refreshed, we left for dinner to the road behind us. We then reached Cascade restaurant. We went inside and there were many Indians which assured us we were in a good restaurant. We ordered for Veg biryani, but on getting the food I received few chicken pieces in it. We reported this to the server. Also when I asked for paneer tikka, the server asked us to order some other dish, but I refused. Later on receiving the food, the dish wasn’t paneer tikka, because paneer has to be marinated and grilled and then put in a tomato sauce, but the paneer wasn’t grilled at all.Anyways the food was tasty and reasonable. Then we returned to Lulu to get some stuffs for the next day and left to hotel.
On the next day we left for Mughsayl first. Mughsayl beach and blowholes were amazing. The Marneef cave was also big and nice. The blowholes didn’t give a shower but just a sprinkle, because it wasn’t season. But everything nature has to offer is beautiful. Then we left for Taqah for the many springs. We initially went to Ain Ishrat which was nothing but a dry crater. From there to Ain Atlum and Ain Tabraq.Ain Atlum was dry again with no water but the huge mountain was really great. I could imagine how the spring would be with the water during season.Ain Tabraq had water flowing from a hole. On the way back the same spring was flowing like a waterfall down.Ain Atlum and Ain Tabrooq were twin springs.
Then we left for Ain Razat.The water spring was a flowing from many sources from the mountain.The water was clear and there was a cave near the spring on the top. Also the spring had a big nice park, we stopped for some time in the park to eat our snacks for lunch. Most of the days in Oman we skipped lunch and had our snacks from our backpacks. Then we left for the main city, and then we came across a signboard saying Ain shahalnawt.So we decided to see the spring as well. It was really cool with water flowing all over the place and also a small green pool where people were swimming.
We also went to Tomb of Mohammed of Arabia. Then we went to tomb of Abir Bin Hud, it was a small tomb near Crowne Plaza hotel in the middle of a farm. Then we also went to the Tomb of Al Nabi Umran which was just on the same road as our hotel. We drank tender coconut in one of the stall near Al Baleed which was selling all farm fresh stuffs. Then we left to the hotel.Then we left for the Salalah Gardens Mall. Roamed around and had dinner in the food court at Kabab Bollywood.Next day we checked out and returned our car at airport and left for Muscat. We were there in Muscat airport for 4-5 hrs. Then boarded the flight to Bahrain.
Overall I loved Salalah for all its nature places and would love to go out picnicking in those places. Muscat was more Indians and busy. Searching for places and going around on our own gave much flexibility and made the trip adventurous. Overall very good experience.
BIMMAH SINK HOLE
Sultan Qaboos mosque
Al Alam Palace
Royal Opera House