BY ROSE EBUEN –
It’s the Eid holiday. Chances are, many of your friends are either leaving the country for a quick getaway or have plans to check out some of the beautiful spots of Oman.
You and your girl pals might be wondering what you can do. Is it safe for an all-girl squad to go roaming around? What are the best places to see? How can one put one day of not doing anything into good use?These are probably some of the questions you have to contend with.
As a woman who had been to many different places in Oman, I can assure you that the Sultanate is one of the most peaceful and safe places to travel in the whole of GCC if not the world. I travelled with friends many times and had to rely on the goodness and hospitality of Omanis to save us from road troubles.
A couple of friends and I recently went on a road trip, and if you’re new in Oman and want a simple itinerary you can do in a day, here’s a suggestion you might want to try. Of course, one of you and your girl pals should know how to drive. If one of you have a driver’s license, making and following this plan will be easy as a breeze.
Start your trip IN Birkat al Mouz
About two hours from Muscat, Birkat al Mouz is located at the foot of Jabal Akhdhar. It is home to one of the country’s best falaj system and has a series of abandoned villages and ruins that are fun and very safe to explore. During this Eid, expect quite a swell in the number of visitors but because this is quite a big place to explore. I personally like walking through the aqueduct and feeling the cold water on my feet while surrounded the lush date plantation. If you come early in the morning, the top of the abandoned village is a great place to watch the sunrise. Going through the village is free and won’t cost you a dime, so there’s no better way to start a trip than here. Take time to inspect the mud houses and how they were built. If you can chat with a few of the locals, you’d learn a little bit more and perhaps, will hear interesting stories of why the village was abandoned. Exploring the place can take about three hours, especially if you are going hiking. Make sure to wear proper hiking shoes and bring a lot of water.
Enjoy the canyon of Jabal Akhdhar
Our visit to Jabal Akhdhar was blessed with rain and great, cold weather. If we came a little bit earlier, the hotel staff told us that we could have witnessed hail falling from heaven. One of the beautiful reasons for going to Jabal Akhdhar is to be given an opportunity to witness the grandeur of Oman’s geologic formation. There are currently several hotels to choose from, from star hotels to smaller, homey ones — you can easily end up having a great view of Oman’s canyon while enjoying a cup of coffee and delicious dessert. Don’t be afraid to make some stops along the way. Be warned however, that during rainy days, the roads might get flooded. For our visit two days ago, we have to wait for several hours for the wadi water to go down because it totally cut off the road but it didn’t dampen our spirit as even the roads leading to Alila Jabal Akhdhar offered plenty of selfie opportunities that entertained us while waiting for the water to go down. Travelling to Jabal Akhdhar requires a four-wheel drive, and while the road can be serpentine, it’s nothing that a good woman driver can’t navigate.
Venture to ancient villages
Checking out the ancient villages of Jabal Akhdhar can be both eye-opening and educational. Not far from Anantara Jabal Akhdhar, you’d find the village where rose water is being made. From here, you can hike through pomegranate and damask roses plantations which can take almost three hours to complete. There are three to four villages separated by canyons in this area. If you follow the hiking trail (which is very easy to do btw), you will pass through some scenic trails that can lead to different adventures. This itinerary is guaranteed full-proof and is the best way to spend one of your Eid holidays. My friends and I may have gotten lost a couple of times, but with an open and curious mind, it made the whole adventure even better. Food in Jabal Akhdhar doesn’t have to be expensive as well. We stopped by on one of the roadside restaurants which happened to offer delicious Omani food. As long as your car is in good condition and you have an indomitable, adventurous spirit, you can complete a whole day trip without spending more than 50 OMR.