Oman: Jewel of the Arabian Gulf

March 19, 2015 - April 3, 2015

Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.

Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.

Mar 19 - Mar 20 Depart USA / Muscat, Oman

Board your independent flight to Muscat arriving in the late evening on March 20 and transfer to the Chedi Muscat Hotel, your home for the next three nights.

March 21 Muscat

Discover the charms of Muscat today and its traditional arabesque architecture. The city’s name translates to “safe harbor” and the glittering bay offers a stunning backdrop. Explore the exquisite Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a vast complex designed to present an all-inclusive image of Islam—as a religion, a science, and a civilization. The spacious main prayer room, capped by a soaring 150-foot-high dome, can accommodate 6,500 worshippers. In the afternoon visit the Bait Al Zubair Museum for insights into Oman’s ethnographic heritage, and its rich maritime history.

March 22 Muscat

The Oman Botanic Garden is still being completed, and you’ll be among the first to wander through the diverse natural habitats that showcase the country’s botanical heritage. At the Amouage perfumery, discover how the exotic and fragrant flowers of Oman are distilled into some of the world’s most treasured, and rare, perfumes. Enjoy traditional hospitality and dinner with a local family this evening before returning to your hotel.

March 23 Muscat / Sur / Ras Al Jinz

Depart Muscat this morning and follow the Gulf of Oman southward to Sur, an active trade port since the 6th century. View master ship-builders at work in the boatyard, as they plane and paint the iconic fishing dhows in the tradition of their forefathers. Continue to the village of Ras Al Jinz, a prime Indian Ocean nesting site for endangered green turtles. Tonight watch the turtles return to the beach of their birth to lay the eggs of a future generation. Overnight at the Ras Al Jinz Hotel.

March 24 Ras Al Jinz / Wahiba Desert

Those who wish may rise early to view the green turtles making their return to sea. After breakfast depart for the desert, stopping en route to visit a small private mud-built castle in the tribal town of Jalan Bani Bu Ali. Transfer to SUV vehicles for the scenic ride to Panorama Camp, a luxurious tented camp surrounded by the golden sands of the Wahiba Desert.

March 25 Wahiba Desert / Hajar Mountains

Head northward to Ibra this morning to visit the unique weekly market, dedicated exclusively to the women of the region. Continue to the town of Birkat al Moz to view one of Oman’s Aflaj Irrigation Systems, a multi-part World Heritage Site. This unique, sustainable technique was developed to provide water to a vast oasis of date palms. Transferring back into SUVs, ascend nearly 7,000 feet into the Hajar Mountains where you will spend two nights at the Sahab Hotel, situated on the Jabal Al Akhdar mountain plateau.

March 26 Hajar Mountains

Visit a craft center in a nearby local village this morning to learn about products made from locally grown plants. After lunch enjoy a walk through spectacular high altitude fields and terraces, bright green with new springtime crops.

March 27 Hajar Mountains / Nizwa

Descend from the mountains this morning and continue to the medieval city of Nizwa, once the capital of Oman and an important caravan crossroad. At the Souk and Cattle Market experience the colorful and noisy proceedings of an authentic market day. Next, tour the 9th-century Nizwa Fort, built from adobe bricks and surrounded by 90-foot-high walls. Its museum offers a fascinating overview of Oman’s history. The Golden Tulip Hotel is your accommodation for the next two nights.

March 28 Nizwa

Begin your day with a visit to the impressive 17th-century Jabrin Fort, built in 1670 both as a defensive fortification and as the residence for the Imam. Continue through a stark and rugged landscape to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bat for an exploration of the world’s most complete collection of ruined settlements and tombs from the third millennium B.C.

March 29 Nizwa / Muscat / Salalah

After breakfast turn east toward Muscat and transfer to the airport for our short flight to Oman’s southern city of Salalah, where you spend the next four nights at the Juweira Boutique Hotel.

Mar 30 - Apr 1 Salalah

Enjoy three full days in and around Salalah, the capital of Dhofar Province, whose white-sand beaches and lush, subtropical flora create a high contrast to the arid lands of northern Oman. Explore the ancient port site of Sumhuram—one of the four parts of UNESCO’s “Land of Frankincense” World Heritage Site—from where the precious aromatic resin was traded for nearly 5,000 years. In the medieval, fortified harbor settlement of Al-Balid, learn about the region’s cultural and maritime history at the excellent Museum of the Frankincense Land.

Spend a full day exploring the valley west of Salalah, where groves of frankincense trees dot the landscape. Since the times of ancient Egypt, the sap of this tree was regarded as precious and both the Judaic and Christian religions use the oil-infused incense in their rituals. High in the nearby mountains, in the village of Jabal Qara, visit what many believe is the tomb of Job—the prophet held sacred in the Islamic, Jewish, and Christian faiths.
 
The mountains of Dhofar form an impressive backdrop to the coastal towns near Salalah, a landscape of lush forests, cliffs, and caves that are home to more than 50 species of mammals and dozens of bird species. Walk along a wadi, or dry valley, to visit a family who raises livestock and experience a slice of daily life as it has been lived here for generations. As you travel through the landscape watch for ibex and gazelle, storks, eagles, and flamingos.

Apr 2 - Apr 3 Salalah / Muscat / USA

Enjoy your final day in Salalah at leisure before transferring to the airport for our flight to Muscat. Enjoy a special farewell dinner and prepare for your late evening independent flight to the USA.