Jul 15

Oman 2014: Day 5 (Part 2) – Fins beach, Sinkhole Park — and saying goodbye

Date: 29th October, 2014

After having lunch from Sur, we were now driving back to Muscat.

Beach road Sur

The skies were still grey

Flooded road traffic Oman

The earlier rains had flooded the roads

Omani house

Passed through a few local neighbourhoods before hitting the highway

Quriyat-Sur highway Oman

We were now on the Muscat–Sur coastal road, also known as the Quriyat-Sur highway

It was awesome cruising along the coast line, but it was hard to capture the feeling when you are travelling at 100+ kms/hr.

Oman Arabian sea highway

We stopped on the side for a bit, just to take in the sea breeze

Quriyat highway town Oman

Some seaside town along the way

Quriyat Sur highway drive Oman

It rained a bit along the way

Muscat Sur coastal highway Oman

We got off the main highway to get to Fins beach

Fins beach tourists Oman

But we didn’t have any time to visit the actual beach

Fins beach rock Oman

Erm… so here are photos of waves crashing into rocks

Fins beach rock waves panorama

Don’t know how far these rocks went

Fins beach rocks Oman sea

But it seemed like this for miles

Plastic garbage Fins beach Oman

Sadly, there was a lot of trash out here

Flooded village Oman

We left Fins beach and drove through a few smaller roads to get to our next — and final — destination

Hawiyat Najm park Oman

We had a 30-minute stop at Hawiyat Najm park. What’s the big attraction here?

Sink hole park stairs Oman


Hawiyat Najm crater park information Oman

Hawiyat Najm is a natural sinkhole, now turned into a tourist attraction

Hawiyat Najm crater panorama Oman

It’s pretty big

Sinkhole lagoon panorama Oman

We walked over and decided to go down

Hawiyat Najm sink hole Oman

The water looked so tempting but alas…no time

Hawiyat Najm crater height Oman

Tourists jumping sinkhole lagoon Oman

They were having a ball

Hawiyat Najm down lagoon Oman

I wanted to see if the water was flowing out anywhere or into a cave

Hawiyat Najm edge panorama Oman

But it doesn’t

Here’s a brief video I took on my phone:

We went back up as it was time to leave.

Sinkhole park crater lagoon Oman

One final shot

Muscat highway Oman

And that was it, the official end of our Oman tour!

Muscat highway mountains Oman

Goodbye mountains!

It’s funny, on the day we arrived, I wasn’t very excited seeing Muscat city. It all felt similar, but compared to Manama and Dubai, Muscat felt a bit dull in comparison. It got better on the second day, when we went dolphin watching, and a visit to Sultan Qaboos mosque just before leaving Muscat. But where Oman’s beauty really shines is once you get out of Muscat. The wadis, the desert sands, the remote villages, Jebel Shams — they really do make you go “Wow!”. Oman is far from boring, but you need to get out of Muscat to realize that.

What really stood out for me from this tour was realizing just how nice and laid back Omanis were. Growing up in Bahrain, I’ve seen my share of Arabs who will do their best to leave a poor impression about them (especially the Saudis that frequented Bahrain). But Omanis are not like the rest. Much calmer, less shout-y, they seem to smile a lot more and far less materialistic compared to their Emirati and Saudi neighbours. Omanis are probably the friendliest Arabs I have ever encountered!

I guess some appreciation must be given to the rulers too. After all, they decided against turning Muscat into Dubai or Doha of the past decade. The rat race is far less visible here. No skyscrapers allowed in Muscat apparently, because the sultan didn’t want to cover the mountains, which he felt was Oman’s true beauty. And he is right! Unlike the other Gulf states, Oman’s natural beauty is what makes it so special!

Anyway, once back in Muscat, we still had a few hours left until we had to all leave for the airport. Majjid dropped us off at the Haffa House Hotel before ending his day. Poor guy hadn’t slept the previous night.

Mithun Aseem Manjulika with Majjid in Muscat

We took one final group selfie before bidding Majjid goodbye

Haffa hotel bed room Muscat Oman

It was disappointing I couldn’t spend the night in this bed… because it was really comfortable!

Haffa house hotel Muscat Oman

This is Haffa House hotel

Muscat at night Oman

Myself, Aseem and Manjulika stepped out to do some last minute shopping

Muscat City streets at night

Although I did manage to pick some sweets and nuts from the small shops we went to, I wanted to go to Lulu mall to buy many other items I had in my list. So I took a taxi and to the nearby Lulu supermarket.

With a carton fulls of Chips Oman and other stuff, I returned to the hotel and re-packed my bags. After bath, I went downstairs to have dinner.

Omani food Haffa hotel Muscat

I made the most of my last meal in Oman and took in as much of the local flavours as I could

Desserts Haffa hotel restaurant Muscat

Finished off with some not-so-local desserts :)

Muscat airport at night

Once we were all ready to check out, we headed for Muscat airport

The present airport is nothing fancy. It’s quite old actually, but they are building a newer and much bigger one.

Amouage Muscat duty free shops

Even the duty free shops seemed limited compared to other airports. But I’m sure the new airport will solve all that.

Mercedes SL350 Muscat Duty Free

What’s a Gulf airport duty free without a luxury car raffle, right? :)

I’d love to return to Oman when the new airport opens. Aside from that, there was much more I didn’t get to see. Salalah was on my wish-list but given how far it is, there was no way we were driving there. The waters of Musandam still remain untouched for me. Then there’s turtle watching, but that’s a seasonal event. I’m sure there’s much more to see and do in Oman. You can find all the details on the Oman Tourism website.

For now, I was just happy that I got to be one of the lucky few to be selected for this tour. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and as always, I hope my readers enjoyed it too!

Previous posts in this series:

Oman 2014: Day 5 (Part 1) – Wadi bin Khalid; Dhow factory in Sur

Oman 2014: Day 4 – Jebel al Akhdar; dune bashing and overnight camp in Wahiba Sands

Oman 2014: Day 3 (Part 3) – Misfah and Jebel Shams

Oman 2014: Day 3 (Part 2) – Nizwa Fort and Jabreen Castle

Oman 2014: Day 3 (Part 1) – Sultan Qaboos mosque (Muscat’s Grand Mosque)

Oman 2014: Day 2 (Part 2) – Muscat bay viewpoints, Qurum beach, The Cave restaurant

Oman 2014: Day 2 (Part 1) – Dolphin watching tour in Muscat

Oman 2014: Day 1 – Landing in Muscat; Al Alam Palace, Mutrah souq and more

Jul 15

Oman 2014: Day 5 (Part 1) – Wadi bin Khalid; Dhow factory in Sur

Date: 29th October 2014

Today was our last day in beautiful Oman. And we still had lot’s to see before our flight at night! So after an early wake-up call, we had a quick breakfast.

Omani breakfast buffet

On offer was a ‘dosa’ made of maida (unrefined flour) and yellow daal (lentil curry) among other dishes

Breakfast in Oman

Didn’t eat “much” because we really had to leave the desert camp soon

When we all collected our bags, checked out and made our way to the jeep, our driver Majjid was in a sleepless state. He was out all night with a group of drivers in search of an SUV that had gotten lost in the desert! :( It was one of their friends along with a group of elderly tourists, and they lost communication with them after a few hours (phone batteries must have died).

Fortunately they found the group… but only today morning. They found them after the driver burned one of the tires and used the smoke to pinpoint their location. It was tragic to hear considering the elderly tourists were weak and had to be taken to the hospital.

But despite the lack of sleep, Majjid had to stick to his job and take us around.

Sharqiya dessert camel Oman

When we left Oryx camp, I mounted the GoPro on the hood of the Prado once again

Here’s a video of our drive to the bedouin home Majjid wanted to show us on the way (some segments have been sped up): Continue reading “Oman 2014: Day 5 (Part 1) – Wadi bin Khalid; Dhow factory in Sur” »

Jun 15

Oman 2014: Day 4 – Jebel al Akhdar; dune bashing & overnight camp in Wahiba Sands

Date: 28th October, 2014

Yesterday was a very eventful day. It began at the Grand Mosque of Muscat, then to Nizwa, before ending our evening at Jebel Shams. After a good night’s sleep, I awoke to a chilly morning.

Jebel Shams hills drive Oman

We checked out of Jebel Shams Resort after a quick breakfast

Jebel Shams highway Oman

We were back on the highway, and it gave me an opportunity to take in the sights I missed on the way up (because I was asleep on the ride up yesterday)

Dry river Oman mountains

Dried up river?

Security check Jabal al Akhdar Oman

We reached a security crossing en route to Jebel Al Akhdar. The check was mostly to see if our vehicles were fit enough for the next uphill ride

Uphill road Jebel al Akhdar Oman

Because it was one heck of an uphill climb!

Downhill highway Jebal al Akhdar Oman

And then downhill… and up again

Jebel al Akdhar panorama Oman

This is the view of Jebel al Akdhar we came for

Continue reading “Oman 2014: Day 4 – Jebel al Akhdar; dune bashing & overnight camp in Wahiba Sands” »

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