The Sultanate of Oman, to give it its full title, is an excitingly different place to visit in the Middle East. It has a varied topography from the lush coastal plains to the Qara Mountains and the central Sahara Tablelands, which can all be explored from a holiday rental in Oman. The country is mainly Muslim and the official language is Arabic although English is widely understood. The currency is the Rial.
Oman has some fabulous beaches which are perfect for sunbathing at any time of year. Swimming and snorkeling can be enjoyed, or search for exotic seashells along the tidemark. Watersports such as diving, windsurfing, sailing or deep-sea fishing can all be enjoyed around the self-catering accommodation in Oman. Shopping is one of the main things to do in Oman and haggling over the price is part of the fun. Sail on a traditional dhow from the port at Khasab and see Oman’s many fjords called khors. If you are lucky you will be accompanied by a school of dolphins. Another great Middle East experience to enjoy is a camel ride across the Sharqiya Sands on a desert safari. Part of the trip is sampling the local cuisine, a barbecue of camel and goat kebabs. A more 21st century mode of transport is a 4-wheel drive off-road vehicle which takes tourists up steep tracks into the mountains.
The white-washed city of Muscat is a wonderful city to explore with its exotic smells and extraordinary sights. See the Sultan’s Palace in the shadow of the 16th century forts. The Muttrah Souk is a huge market with a labyrinth of narrow passageways all lined with stalls and gold shops. The old town of Sur is also worth a visit. It is famous for its traditional shipbuilding and the turtles which lay their eggs in the sands during July. A trip to the Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun) can be arranged and visitors can peer into the depths of the Wadi Ghul, a deep natural canyon. Nizwa is another popular mountain destination, famous for its livestock markets and silver handicrafts. The Al-Ansab Lagoons are known as the eagle capital of the world and are ideal for bird watching. The Qurm Natural Park is another fascinating place to see flamingos, spoonbills and flocks of wading birds.
Oman has an arid subtropical climate. The coastal areas have hot humid summers, whilst inland temperatures reach a sizzling 54°C (130°F). The summer wind, known as the Gharbi, adds to the oppressive heat. The annual rainfall is between two and four inches (50-100mm). The capital, Muscat, has much more bearable temperatures ranging from 19-38°C (66-100°F) with the changing seasons.
The main airport serving Oman is the Muscat (MCT) Seeb International Airport, 40km (25 miles) west of the city. Taxis are the only transport into the city, and the journey takes about 40 minutes.