Oman is one of the most beautiful regions in our part of the Middle East. From sparkling jade waters harboring playful dolphins, to plush fruit and vegetable orchards on terraced farms, to imposing rocky mountains millions of years old sheltering hidden valleys…
Our last trip to Oman was to their famous peaks, Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar, which you can read about here and here and it proved to be an amazing experience. Here are some quick tips if you are planning a visit there.
- Before you set off on your trip make sure your vehicle is in good shape. Check tyre pressure and ensure you have plenty of fuel. Some of the roads are not forgiving, are often deserted or quite narrow and car trouble on these routes would not be ideal. Petrol stations can be spaced rather far apart so fuel up every chance you get.
- A 4WD is a MUST. Getting to Jebel Shams involved plenty of off-roading and while some bold sedans made the attempt, it left us cringing wondering what their next maintenance bill would look like. Access to Jebel Akhdar is via a police check point where you will be asked to switch to 4WD mode as the climb to the top is incredibly steep.
- Make sure your vehicle insurance covers the Oman region as well. Don’t forget your vehicle insurance papers, your mulqiya and driver’s licence.
- One difficulty that we did face on our route was finding decent pit stops. We had to resort to stopping at random department stores and using their shady, broken down toilet facilities. Come well prepared with any tissues/wet wipes that you may need. And resign yourself to the fact that you may just have to answer the call of nature in nature.
- It might be a good idea to stock up on some munchies, particularly for the younger ones in the group. Stores can be quite sparse the deeper you go into the mountains and you might find it difficult to appease a suddenly famished 4 year old who will settle for nothing less than a Kinder Joy.
- The twisting mountain roads did induce a spell of motion sickness for one of our group members. If you’re particularly prone to nausea while travelling, do come prepared.
- Being around 3000 metres above sea level, the top of these mountains can get COLD! The Grand Canyon was a brisk 17 degrees C and less than an hour later at our hotel we were faced by a chilly 11 degree C welcome. Make sure to bring along plenty of warm clothing.
- A bonfire is a great way to have a fun night. And in that chilly weather your body will thank you for some heat. Firewood is available for sale at 5 Omani Riyals. Take along some meat for a barbecue or some marshmallows and the kids will love it. The firewood we found there was from the pomegranate tree which released a deliciously sweet, aromatic fragrance as it burned. A truly memorable experience indeed.
- Try and avoid driving after sunset unless you are particularly confident about your location and driving skills. If not, at best you could get hopelessly lost in deserted mountain roads and at worst you face a horrifying tumble down precarious mountain cliffs. Take precautions to ensure your route is accurately marked using Google’s satellite imagery or any other GPS that you choose to use.
- Have backup battery power for your mobiles/GPS. The last thing you need is to lose power when you are just minutes away from your destination.
We can’t wait to go back again and do some more exploring. And I hope these posts have inspired you to pay this gorgeous country a visit.
Until next time…