Oman is becoming known as one of the safest and most authentic of the Gulf countries and with its fairly recent sealed roads, it is now possible to explore a lot more of the country than ever before. However, despite the developed infrastructure, most visitors still prefer to stay within the comfort of a beachfront hotel in Muscat, and while Muscat has beautiful mosques and lively souks to see, it isn't where Oman's heart lies.
Oman is, above all, a country of rugged landscapes culminating at Jebel Shams, splitting into canyons, wadis (dry river beds) with natural pools of warm turquoise waters and orange deserts of unusually high sand dunes. Muscat, especially the old town, is lovely to spend a day or two, but its beaches are overrated and its inland offering highly underrated. This week, we travel from Muscat to a more rural Oman for a unique insight into what the rest of the country has to offer This time round, we have only managed to see a small part of the country, mainly the west and east of the majestic Hajar Mountains, but due to the dramatically changing landscape, in the week we spent in Oman, it felt more like we crossed over into several countries.
Note: the first nine sections of this feature traces our road-trip while the last section gives essential tips for the off-road traveller to help others avoid making the same mistakes we made! Be assured that you don't have to be a rally driver to get around off the road, but you do need to be prepared.
By Rooksana Hossenally