Nestled in the southeastern corner of the vast Arabian Peninsula, Oman has always been isolated from mountains, sand and sea, and today the same primitive traits that are responsible for the isolation of the sultanate are now recognized as external attractions. From the largest sand desert in the world to endangered sea turtles, towering baobabs and ancient “pillow lavas”, Oman has a wealth of natural wonders that are surprisingly easy and inexpensive to explore.
Wadi Ghul: The Grand Canyon of Arabia
On the southern slopes of Jebel Shams, the highest peak of the rugged Hajar mountains of Oman, the elements dug a gorge so deep and spectacular that it is called the Grand Canyon of Arabia. Alternative bands of hard limestone and narrow benches made of softer slate formed the steep walls of this 1,000-meter deep gorge. You can admire in depth the dizzying Balcon Walk, a 6 km round trip that begins at the end of the difficult road to Al Khateem and ends in a strange village abandoned in the 1970s.
A piece of shroud in Muscat
The breathtaking scenery of Muscat’s bustling coastline is a chain of jagged hills whose dark brown color contrasts starkly with the traditional whitewashed buildings and the sky-blue ocean of the Indian Ocean. These rare rocks form an eruption of the mantle that was driven into the Arabian Peninsula during a massive mining phase that reshaped the region 90 million years ago. The ramparts of the impressive Fort Mutrah, built by the Portuguese in the late 16th century, curve over one of these hills and the stone watchtower 1.5 km east of the Corniche. view on the sea
The first Arabian railway becomes so narrow that in some places both walls can reach and touch simultaneously. The gorges begin at a narrow gap in the rock, just a few meters from the four-wheel road that crosses the Wadi Bani Awf near the lush terraces of Bilad Sayt. To complete the 3km ride, participants must swim, jump, abseil and climb large rocks in the shadow of the imposing limestone walls. If you are ready for the adventure, renowned guides in Muscat can organize the tour and provide all the necessary safety equipment.
Al Hoota cave
Spicy stalactites, wavy bacon and delicious popcorn are some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful landscapes in the only cave on the Arabian Peninsula. Located a few miles west of Al Hamra, the entrance to Al Hoota Cave is accessible by a short electric train ride. The 45-minute organized tours explore the first 500 meters of the elongated cave, where groundwater dissolved into 95-million-year-old limestone. The humid underground environment is home to a fragile ecosystem inhabited by mollusks, snails, beetles and a special type of blind cave fish that can only be found in an area of 10 km2 on the southern slope of Jebel Akhdar.
On a secluded hill in the shadow of the iridescent Jebel Misht, one of the most beautiful cliffs in Arabia, there is a row of bee graves that the inhabitants of the Bronze Age painstakingly built. between 3000 and 2000 BC The 7-meter-high domes are built from sandstone quarry stones mined on the seabed more than a quarter of a billion years ago. Together with two archaeological sites adjacent to the World Heritage Site, these tombs form above the village of Al Ayn in the 3rd millennium BC. One of the most complete colonies in the world.
North Oman is home to some of the world’s best pillow-to-pillow lavas: dark, bulbous, pillow-shaped rocks that form where the glowing lava immediately cools and flows directly into the icy sea. The sultanate pillow lava was formed 95 million years ago and the same process takes place off the coast of Hawaii. Because the pillows form one pillow on top of another, they look as if a large stack of worms weighed several feet long. With your own wheels you can easily discover hundreds of “head restraints” on the streets along the Sohar-Buraimi Expressway and you will be able to see some great exhibits in Wadi Jizzi, a drainage accessible via the Suhaylah Road 45 km is west of Sohar.
The beautiful coastline near Ras Al Jinz, the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula, is an important nesting site for the Indian Ocean for endangered green turtles. After years of traveling the ocean, these remarkable animals return to where they were born to lay their own eggs. Although sea turtles have thrived on our planet since the dinosaur era, they now face many dangers, including the involvement in fishing lines and illegal poaching, as well as natural enemies. The observation of a turtle laying eggs and bringing its heavy body back to the sea on a guided tour of the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve is a highlight for nature lovers.
Although these gigantic giants are more commonly associated with the African savanna, one of the world’s nine oldest and strangest species thrives in the dry valleys above the southern coastal city of Salalah. The road in the mountains to the east of the beautiful seasonal cascade of Wadi Darbat passes by several groves of baobabs, which are slightly different in their bottle-shaped trunks, their broad circumference and their large oval fruits. The Dhofar region is home to about 200 of these rare deciduous trees, also known as “tartar”, “dead rat” and “spilled” trees.
Sharqiya sand sea
This sea of photogenic sand is the product of two ingredients: strong winds and abundant grains of sand. In the southern sand of Sharqiya, these grains have probably been blown off the coast, while in the north, where there are more than a dozen Bedouin desert camps, the grains come from the wadis that drain the mountains of Hajar. Strong seasonal winds have dug this sand into parallel megaduns whose 35-degree surfaces are ideal for both sand and off-road trails.
Oman, UAE and Arabian Peninsula
Although it is located in a region that is only the size of France, the Rub Al Khali desert is half as much sand as the entire Sahara. This 660,000 square kilometer area, also known as an empty area due to its lack of settlements, is the largest contiguous sandy desert on the planet. The part of Oman has linear dune fields whose shapes can change with seasonal winds separated by dry saline. From Salalah, travelers can visit the area on a nightly excursion around the dunes, camel rides, majestic sunsets and the black sky full of stars. Sparkle.