Last Modified: 21 Oct 2014
Taste of Oman
Trip code: ELKO
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Steeped in tradition, laden with history and boasting sensational natural wonders, the Sultanate of Oman is a taste of old-world Arabia at its most enchanting. Talented craftsmen work their wares in time-trodden bazaars, elegant mosques stand dramatically against spartan backdrops and the 500 forts lining the country's shoreline will delight history and architecture buffs to the extreme. Symbols of ancient grandeur, these constructions are inextricably enmeshed with the country's past as a trading hub between Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Venture inland and encounter the picture-perfect oasis of Wadi Bani Khaled, a traditional desert culture, while camping in the Wahiba Sands and experience a national hospitality that knows no bounds.
This trip is run by our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Intrepid passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Table of Contents
- Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Days 1-3 Muscat
Márhaba! Welcome to Oman
An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
On day 2 we head out after breakfast and we visit the beautiful Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. We then proceed to the Natural History Museum, which offers a brief introduction to Oman's colourful past. Driving down to the busy fishing harbour at Muttrah, with its quaint wooden dhows and fishing boats, we stop at the bazaar where we can mingle with the locals and browse around the silver and spice shops. We also visit the two 16th century Portuguese forts, Jalali and Mirani that guard the entrance to the city, before returning to our hotel.
On Day 3, we leave Muscat behind and head north along the coast to the fishing village of Seeb, where we witness the daily catch being hauled onto the sands from tiny fishing boats. We then continue on to the splendid fort at Nakhal, which sits atop a rocky spur with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. It is the best-preserved of all Oman's forts and the interior is still furnished, giving visitors an excellent feel for period life.
A little further on is the fort of Al Hazm, situated on the northern slopes of the Jebel Akhdar, with its elaborate carved doors. Here we have time to explore the various rooms and chambers before returning to Muscat.
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 4 Wahiba Sands
From Muscat we head southward and travel through rugged landscape before arriving at the palm-filled Wadi Bani Khaled, which is justly famed for its natural beauty. We follow a well-worn path into the heart of this rocky oasis and discover a large pool fed by a natural mountain spring.
We continue our 4WD journey and arrive at the edge of the extensive Wahiba Sands. After deflating the tyres we follow an amazing route across the sand dunes to our desert camp. Tonight we enjoy an evening of traditional food and music around an open fire under the stars and get to sleep in simple tents.
Desert camp (1 nt)
Day 5 Nizwa
Driving north, we come to Lisq, an oasis with ancient buildings with the ruins of a castle forming a backdrop. Lisq is famous for the unique way of processing dates. Dates are cooked and the dry fruit is a local delicacy – well worth a try! Mudaibi, a village with an old quarter and an excellent souq nearby, makes an interesting stop on the way to Nizwa. Nizwa is one of the oldest cities in Oman and was once a great centre of trade, religion, education and art. Its grand mosque was formerly a center for Islamic learning. The central fort is surrounded by ancient traditional souqs where the locals trade in traditional as well as imported merchandise.
You can browse here for some of Nizwa's famous silver jewellery or watch expert craftsmen in action as they fashion exquisite silverware or a range of other artefacts. Nizwa is an oasis enclosed by a series of mountains including the famous green mountain (Jabal Akhdar).
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Muscat
The ruins of the immense fort at Bahla, with its walls and towers of unbaked brick and its stone foundations, are a remarkable example of fortification. It's easy to find a metal worker toiling next to his red-hot furnace, or a weaver assembling a goat hair cloak. But the king of craft in Bahla is pottery. This exceptional art is famous throughout the Sultanate and beyond. Jabrin Fort is 240 kilometres from Muscat and is also called the palace of Imam Bil 'Arub Bin Sultan, who built it in 1675.
It is considered one of the finest and most picturesque of Oman's forts. Besides the famous Nizwa Fort, the Jabrin Fort is one of the few forts designed as a residence; its wooden doors are elegantly carved and the lattice work windows are delicate and ornate. Jabal Shams, which literally means 'Mountain of the Sun', is Oman's highest peak at 3075 metres. Even on the hottest days, it's cool up here. Misfah and Al Hamra are beautiful and historical villages that we'll explore before heading back to Muscat for our final evening.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Hotel (1 nt)
- A Taste of Oman - Single Supplement (ELKO)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Iran Adventure (HPSN)
- Jordan Experience (EEKJ)
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!
For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash, travellers cheques and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash. Note that for trips in Central Asia it's virtually impossible to use traveller's cheques or find ATMs. We therefore recommend that you bring cash in US$.
You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and money-changers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2003 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Cash machines are available in some areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges.
Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities. Please bring a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over $50.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
OUR LOCAL PARTNER:
This trip is operated by Peregrine Adventures and you will be joined by other like minded Intrepid and non Intrepid travellers. Single travellers will share accommodation with another traveller of the same sex.
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
Hotel (5 nts), Desert camp (1 nt)
6 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 2 Dinners
Minibus, 4x4 Safari Vehicle
Al Falaj Hotel
Al Mujamma Street Ruwi Pc
Phone: +968 24702311
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Al Falaj Hotel
Al Mujamma Street Ruwi Pc
Phone: +968 24702311
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.