Oman is not what you would expect, partially because you’ve maybe never heard of Oman or have never expected to go there. It may also be because the general perception of the Middle East is…. well… desert.
Oman does have deserts, so there are plenty of opportunities for dune surfing, camel riding and all the other sand based fun you’d expect. The other vast area of the country is mountainous, and not just your standard hills and mountains. Oman’s scenery is configured of towering, dramatic cliffs with sharp, almost knife-life edges.
We wanted to get a taste of this scenery so hired a car for the day and hit the road in search of adventure.
GOOD TO KNOW
Google maps doesn’t work in Oman. Neither does iMaps or basically every other normal European navigation system. We’d suggest coming prepared with a physical map.
Oman is a little low on natural landmarks as the main ones are the Gulf of Oman to your right and the Hajar Mountains to your left. This makes navigation all the more challenging. Still, these are pretty dramatic landmarks.
Just after sunrise we turned onto the road running parallel to the edge of the land. The gulf waters glistened and shimmered, alternating between blue and silver as the gentle waves rose and fell.
The temperature at 7am was pushing towards 40 degrees and rose in tandem with the sun. As midday approached, the heat soared to near 50 degrees and our car’s air-con worked overtime to keep the temperature bearable.
The Omani heat helped shape the jagged Hajar mountains. These mountains are unlike anything from the wet and temperate Europe. The jagged edges and sharp cliffs give the land an odd, unearthly feel. You could see it being used as a set of a science fiction movie or a planet in an episode of Star Trek. If we had more time (and some kind of navigation system) we would have loved to drive into this alien-like landscape to see the phenomena close up.
After road tripping (getting lost for a couple of hours) we eventually found our destination: The Al Nadha Resort and Spa. The Al Nadha is another Omani Surprise: set in a mango vineyard, the Al Nadha is a resort bathed in greenery and life.
After the heat, the first thing we noticed when we arrived at the Al Nadha was the sound of birdsong. The Mango trees and nearby oasis make the grounds a flocking point for birds as well as people.
The Al Nadha rose to fame when Dr Mary Ann Roberta opened the spa at the resort and started offering medical consultations and healing experiences. You can read about our spa experience here. The hotel built its reputation on the spa but has since evolved, offering top quality accommodation and food.
Always eager to sample local cuisine, we indulged ourselves with some meat skewers and koftas. The lamb was a little revelation: tender and a little sweet, juicy and not undercooked. The crust was layered with herbs and spices giving pleasant initial taste and a cheeky after kick. The koftas on their own were nothing special but when combined with sauces and spices became a delight.
We couldn’t come to a mango plantation without having a glass of mango juice. A fresh, smooth and natural treat that was infinitely more refreshing than anything you could get from the duty free at the airport.
The Al Nahda Resort and Spa also offer top quality customer service. Whether it was due to the heat, the jet lag, or my basic incompetence, I managed to lose the keys to our rental car. The hotel kindly sent out search parties everywhere we’d been and when we couldn’t find them, arranged for one of their drivers to take us back to the airport and handled the rental car agency for us. It was an incredibly nice, professional and extremely helpful gesture and we really appreciated everything they did for us.
Here is a link to The Al Nahda Resort and Spa website.
Thank you to The Al Nahda Resort and Spa for hosting us. However our opinions are always honest and our own.
Last modified: 28th November 2017