There’s something about the Middle East that is enchantingly enticing, raw, beautiful, and yet goes completely under my travel radar. If it wasn’t for my boyfriend, who loves to explore the world’s most unique hidden spots, I would barely look at the Middle East as a potential travel destination.
It’s a shame, I know, but thankfully I have him to guide me to the edges of my borders and push me past my comfortability.
When it comes to the Middle East, the way I view my travel experiences there are very similar to my experiences from Africa. Growing up, I had no knowledge of African countries, and for many years believed that Africa was a country of its own. Having traveled through Africa extensively for quite some time now, I’ve come to admire the diversity and beauty that the continent of Africa possesses.
The Middle East is a similar experience for me. The more I explore different countries, the more I can differentiate the beauty that compiles the continental region.
DAY 1-2: MUSCAT
Arriving in the capital of Oman, I was excited to experience my first impressions of the country.
The capital is clean, well maintained, organized, and surprisingly very beautiful through small details such as perfectly trimmed hedges off the side of the highway or the variety of stunning Middle Eastern architectural buildings you cruise past as you travel around.
Our first stop was at the local souq, which is held indoors through a mirage of tunnels circling through stalls of Arabic lanterns, clothing, fragrances, and carved wooden crafts. For some reason, I became terribly sick from the heavy aroma throughout the souq that I couldn’t last even 15 minutes walking around before wanting to vomit. So, just outside the souq, there was a lovely stall selling hand-sized shawarmas which tasted divine and quickly cured my stomach of wanting to flip itself inside out.
The next day we visited the Grand Mosque and wow, was it stunning. The most beautiful mosque I’ve ever seen would have to be in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, however this was a very close runner up.
As you enter, you’re required to cover your shoulders and hair out of respect for the culture. If you’re unprepared like I was, you can rent an abaya from the front desk as you go in. Surrounding the Grand Mosque, there are a few other rooms which you can peer into and stunning corridors lined with elegant columns which you can peruse.
Overall, Muscat was a wonderful start to our trip.
DAY 3: WADI SHAB
On our way north to Sur, we quickly stopped in Wadi Shab for a beautiful hike through canyons filled with emerald pools. The day we arrived it was a bit cloudy, so I think our experience in general wasn’t as wondrous as we had imagined. That, plus the fever I was inhabiting made our experience not as enjoyable. But to be honest, we’ve heard so many good words about Wadi Shab that if I ever found myself back in Oman, I’d give it a second chance.
DAY 4: WAHIBA SANDS
Next on our adventures, the desert. I’ve been to many deserts around the world, and this in particular wasn’t stunning to me, but it’s always a fun experience to be out in the sun playing in the dunes. The highlight of our experience was riding ATVs through the dunes just before sunset. For any adventurous soul, I highly recommend trying this once in your life.
DAY 5: NIZWA
Lastly on our roadtrip, we stopped through Nizwa just to see the town, but mainly to visit an old castle nearby.
A sleepy little city, there wasn’t much going on when we arrived. But if you only go through to see one thing, I highly recommend you stop by the Jibreen Castle just outside of Nizwa, not to be confused with the Nizwa Fort.
The castle is stunning and well maintained, so each room was as pristine and beautiful as I could have imagined it’d be in the olden days.
We easily spent an hour or two roaming through each room, as corridors mazed throughout and there was certainly more to see than what meets the eyes.
A pleasant surprise, it was the best way to end our journey through this marvelous country.
After adventuring through Oman for nearly a week, I can understand why people spoke so highly of this enchanting country.
There’s nature and culture around every corner, and if you’re seeking for a destination that’s a little off the tourist map but still within a reasonable comfort zone, I can easily recommend you to visit the country of Oman.