Combining breathtaking natural beauty with a well-preserved cultural heritage, the Sultanate of Oman is one of the least known, yet most exciting tourist destinations in the Middle East. The country perches on the south-east tip of the Arabian Peninsula, overlooking the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. Within this stretch of land lies an amazing range of scenery, sights and activities. Visit the capital city of Muscat, which offers a glimpse of authentic Arabia with bustling waterfronts, souks and alleyways; explore magnificent forts and palaces, ancient fishing villages and archaeological sites; enjoy 4×4 excursions into the rolling dunes of Sharqiya Sands and the impressive peaks of the Hajar mountains; take a dhow trip and go snorkelling along the coastline of the Musandam Peninsula; or simply relax in the tropical atmosphere of Salalah.
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Flying time from London 7 hours
Official language(s) Arabic, Swahili and French
Time difference +4 GMT
Visa requirements eVisa required for UK passport holders from 21 March 2018
Ras Al Junaiz beach, an hour’s drive outside of Sur, offers a rare opportunity to see giant turtles laying their eggs at night. Under the careful supervision of qualified rangers, visitors can witness each turtle laying up to 100 eggs.
Camp beneath desert skies
There are a number of desert camps in Sharqiya Sands which allow you to experience a night spent beneath desert skies amid spectacular scenery. The sunset and sunrise over the dunes are also unmissable.
Explore ancient forts
Oman is dotted with ancient forts, many of which have been well restored. Two of the most famous forts, Jalali and Mirani, guard the entrance to Muscat bay. Although these cannot be visited, many others can. West of Muscat are the imposing towers of Nakhal and Rustaq castle, both easily accessible as a day trip from the capital, whilst inland is the Unesco site of the 12th-century Bahla castle and the immense circular fort in Nizwa, one of the oldest castles in Oman.
See the Lost City of Ubar
Further inland from Salalah, and accessible only by 4 x 4, lies the ‘Lost City of Ubar’. Said to have been buried by sand due to the wickedness of its ancient inhabitants, it was rediscovered using Nasa satellite technology in the 1990s. Also worth visiting are the old town of Mirbat, where you can see 1,000-year-old, mud-brick houses, and the dramatic blow holes at Mughsayl.
Take traditional dhow boat trips
Traditional dhow boat excursions are a great way to explore the coastline of the Musandam peninsula. You may spot dolphins along with a variety of other marine life. Snorkelling in the rocky inlets is also a great way to see the wildlife beneath the waters.
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"The tour was consistently excellent in content, with new experiences each day. It was the overall joy of being in a country with friendly people, full of varied (and sometimes exciting) scenery, ancient forts, ultra modern mosques and even an opera house that we most remember. Our disappointment of not seeing turtles at Sur was compensated by seeing one in Muscat Harbour, diving and surfacing as it fed on the weed attached to the rocks."
Mr Clive Brooks
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