Muscat: The Sultanate is a land of many riches since the dawn of civilisation. With ancient histories paving the way for its diverse culture and heritage, it is also home to immense natural beauty and incommensurable landscapes.
With some places more famously known than others, here are five places that you might have not thought of adding on to your next get-away plans to experience the more unique side of Oman.
Tucked away in the Al Hajar Mountains, is the quaint village of Wakan. Located at almost 2000 km above sea level, it is surrounded by beautiful terraced gardens which are used to cultivate pomegranates, apricots, grapes, and other produce.
Sitting on a plateau, the village is surrounded by the towering mountains and overlooks the Wadi Mistal that flows below.
There are a couple of hiking tracks that start at the village, and they are marked by the familiar yellow, green and red flag that mark most hiking tracks in Oman. Depending on the season, you may have the experience of seeing beautiful apricot flowers in full bloom and the butterflies feeding on them. However, please should remember not to pick any fruits and vegetables and stick to the designated path when exploring as the tracks pass through villagers homes and their privacy should be respected.
A quaint village in the rocky mountains in the north-eastern side of the Al Hajar Mountains — Bilad Sayt is a short distance from the more popular tourist destination of Jabal Shams. Accessible by 4-wheel-drive only, the village is in the middle of Wadi Al Sahtan, Wadi Bani Awf, and Al Hamra. It also lies in the heart of several mountains and lots of palm trees, while a falaj runs through it carrying water around the village. A mystical fairy-tale like feel this little settlement is said it be one of the most picturesque villages of the Sultanate often blanketed in a slight fog, amplifying that mystical feel. Balad Sayt is a must-stop village if you’re driving through the Dakhiliyah-Batinah Mountain path, and it is highly recommended that everyone passing through to take a bit of time to explore the village.
Ruins of Tanuf
Although the name of a leading Omani bottled water brand, Tanuf village is a petite village located in the middle of Bahla and Nizwa — the two famous cities of the Al Dakhiliyah Governorate. Besides the pure waters sourced from the Wadi — Tanuf has historical ruins that are reminiscent of a more dramatic time in the history of the Sultanate. An Ancient settlement, the village was abandoned during the wars of Jabal Akhdar in the 1950s. Before the onslaught of the wars, these ruins were a fully functional village, inhabited by those that at the time of war shifted to what we now know as the Tanuf Village. An almost romantic location against a backdrop of Al Hajar Mountains, the sense of awe it instills for visitors exploring the remnants off of these ancient ruins.
Still only popular amongst fishing and diving enthusiasts, the Masirah Island is the largest island that is part of the Sultanate of Oman. Consisting of a number of smaller villages, the island is full of unique and interesting landscapes with unique rock formations, flora, and fauna. Holding onto the traditions of an older Sultanate, the surrounding rough coastline has led not only the capsizing of these boats but many wreckages from the Arabian Sea that made it onto the shore. Natures preservatives, too the day thanks to the high temperatures and the salt content of the water — dhows from many past generations can still be seen on the shore. The rugged beaches, a large population of nesting sea turtles and desirable surfing waters has continued to attract the attention of travellers from all around the globe.
The Lost City of Ubar
A city surrounded by mysteries and legends, the City of Ubar was once a thriving city that earned its fame and riches due to its significance in the Frankincense trade. Popularised by the book Atlantis of the Sands, it is said that thousands of years ago, a huge sandstorm engulfed the area and buried this affluent city and along with it its history — Ever since, lots of expeditions and explorers have been visiting the Dhofar region in southern Oman, to find the lost city.