WINTER IS HERE
If you want to enjoy the chilly weather, feel the winter sun and make full use of it while it lasts, then the best way would be to get out of your homes and explore the length and breadth of the Sultanate, as suggested by Salim and Shruthi.
Iremember one of my friends asking me once about the winters in Oman. I’d just casually said that we don’t really have winters, but it just gets slightly cooler than usual. But this year, I’m not sure if my tolerance for cold whether has gone down or if the gods wanted to prove me wrong, but it has been feeling like legit winter for almost two weeks now.
This season is super exciting for me. Being an outdoor person, who can’t spend more than a couple of hours at home, the pleasant whether provides the perfect excuse to stay out and actually enjoy what the country has to offer without having to melt in the otherwise fierce sun. Hence, I thought that it might be a good idea to put together some of my favourite winter destinations in Oman that you could visit while the winter still lasts.
According to tourist reviews online, Oman proves to be an ideal camping destination. There are a number of camping ways that you could try in the vast country starting from setting up a basic tent bought from Sultan Centre and setting up a campfire near it to the more sophisticated and recently trending glamping where you get to enjoy the best of both worlds i.e luxuries of life whilst being as close to your favourite natural spot as you want.
The Sultanate is probably one of the rare few countries that is blessed with all the three topographical features that all nature lovers look for - mountain, desert, and beaches. So you might as well make use of it this chilly winter.
The majestic mountains of Oman constitute a good percentage of Oman’s environment. Like the country’s relief features, the mountains too are varied and diverse. Two of my favourite Jebels (mountain in arabic) in Oman are Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Shams, both of wich are extremely picturesque and gorgeous in their own unique ways.
Jebel Akhdar or the Green Mountains are perhaps the most vegetative part of Oman. With a range of flora and fauna, these mountains offer solace to nature lovers who get a chance to get
acquainted to different species of plants and trees found exclusively in this region. Jebel Akhdar is also famous for its wide plateau close to the summit, which is usually and ideal camping point. Try camping near the juniper trees or the trees that produce fruits such as apricots, plums, figs, grapes, apples and pears to sort your meal out during your chilly stay here.
Jebel Shams, on the other hand is the highest peaks of Oman. Needless to say, it is also the coolest places in the country because, well, the higher you go the cooler it gets. The temperature is already lesser than -1 up there and is only expected to get cooler as the days go by. The best camping spot would be the An Nakhr Balcony, which is a deep ravine in between the rocky mountains.
Being a desert, it is not surprising at all that Oman has enough and more options when it comes to desert camping. However, what stuns me the most about Oman’s desert is how different the texture of sand is in different parts of the country, making me have a completely different experience in different deserts.
Sharqiyah Sands is of course a top pick because of its easy accessibility and serene beauty. You can either be all ballsy and venture out on your own into the desert and set camp amidst the middle of absolute nowhere provided you’re confident that you won’t get lost or you could go for one of the many concrete camping options provided by travel agents and tour companies. Either ways, you won’t be able to escape the cool and will need to make sure that the campfire burns if you want to survive the night.
The Empty Quarter is eerier and isn’t as commercial as Sharqiyah Sands. You will actually feel like you have left the world behind and entered into a no man’s land. Make sure you take every camping essential with you and try to keep it simple and not too complicated. The empty quarter is extremely warm during the summers and extremely cold during the winter. So if you are a fan of the extremes then go for it.
You have numerous options when it comes to beaches. You’ll find blue, green, and transparent beaches and beaches that are highly saline or just moderately saline. You will find private, isolated beaches and those that are crowded with people especially during weekends. You will find beaches that are home to mishkak vendors and others that are home to turtles and other aquatic animals and amphibians. I can certainly not say that I have experienced all of this, but out of the few that I have been to my favourite beaches to camp by would be the Pebbles Beach and Damaniyat Island.
The Pebbles Beach, which comes on the way to Sur is gorgeous blue beach with huge white pebbles adorning the shore. It is calm and breezy and pretty much isolated, which is ideal if you are looking for some private time with just your group. Also, you get to sleep under a blanket of stars when you are at this beach.
Daminiyat Island, which is about an hour from Muscat is perfect for those who are into any kind of water activities including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving etc. The tiny island surrounded by highly saline water comes to your rescue after a tiring day of exciting activitites where you can just chill with your pals and enjoy the nothingness and feel super close to nature.