I share here my trip report from an indipendent, self-drive holiday in Oman, with some nights spent camping on a beach or in the desert. You can find photos here: www.wildtrips.net/oman.htm , together with a more extended trip report and info on destinations, prices, etc.
It's never easy to organize a trip for Christmas. European destinations are usually cold and rainy or snowy, while flights for tropical countries are very expensive.
Luckily there is Oman: warm, beautiful, quiet, cheap and not touristy. My girlfriend and I flew from Italy to Muscat, the capital of Oman. It was late night, so we got a 4x4 (that we had booked via internet) and we slept in the car.
The following day we quickly visited Muscat and Mutrah and we drove to the beautiful beaches just south of the capital. There we lived one of the best days ever. In fact, three local fishermen invited us to join them for a fishing trip. We accepted and by boat we visited the coastline. There were islands and cliffs and beaches, they fished and we swam. Then we stopped on a deserted island and we had a BBQ where they cooked lobster and squids and fish. It was amazing. And, at the end of the day, we asked them how much they wanted for the trip and the food… Well, nothing. They invited us just to have company. We were definetely lucky, but I think Omanis are some of the kindest people on earth.
The following day two friends (another couple) reached us from Italy.
We picked them at the airport in the early morning and we drove to Nakhl where we admired the nice fort, then we had a long 4x4 drive in an impressive canyon. For the night, we camped in the middle of nowhere, just us and the wilderness.
The next day we visited Jebel Shams and more Oman natural landscapes. We slept in Ibra, quite close to the huge Al Sharqiya Sands desert, that we went to visit the following day
The plan was simple: driving up and down the dunes trying to have a lot of fun without getting stuck in the sand. It was a success. The best dune bashing you can imagine. We camped in the desert, among some high dunes, there was just us and the sand and the stars and then a little sand-storm. It was fun.
Wadis are one of the most exciting attractions in Oman: narrow canyons with a river and palms and small lakes where you can swim surrounded by beautiful scenery. I just summarize that Wadi Bani Khalid was great, Wadi Tiwi very interesting and Wadi Shab really memorable. In this last canyon we swam through a series of lakes until we got into an underground natural pool! We felt a bit like Indiana Jones.
In the last day of our holiday we visited more beaches to the south of Muscat. Beautiful bays, nice snorkeling and a lot of sun-tanning, which at Christmas is really great! Again, we camped in the wild, on a beach just two meters from the sea.
We concluded our trip by visiting Muscat souk. The capital is a safe, interesting seaside town with a stunning backdrop of red mountains. Definetely a must-visit.
So, Oman is an original but really marvellous destination for an indipendent, adventurous (or also relaxing-on-the-beach) holiday.