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Oman

The Sultanate of Oman isn’t a country that immediately comes to mind during the search for inspiration where to travel to next. The country has everything you can expect from a perfect sun destination & much more. Count on impressive hills, mighty canyons, turquoise wadis surrounded by palm trees and rocks, whitewashed villages, some 500 forts and an authentic coastline. One by one spots where mass tourism is an absolutely unknown concept.

Did you know that Oman only opened its doors for tourism in 1970? Previously there was not one single hotel in Muscat, the current capital of Oman and usually the starting point of every tour. Muscat is best visited by taxi: the cosy Mutrah Souq, the monumental Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the interesting Bait al Baranda museum that shows the 750 year history of Muscat. These are three absolute must-sees.

One of the other absolute cultural attractions is the former capital of Oman, Nizwa. Its mighty fortress is a city in itself. And then there is the spectacular nature: its desert, wadis, beaches, caves ... Unable to capture them in words, you truly need to experience them first-hand. Oman, list it on your bucket list if it isn’t yet done. You will definitely not regret it!

Travel Documents

All Belgian nationals* travelling on a Belgian passport (children and babies included) must be in possession of an international e-passport valid for at least 6 month on the day of departure from the country, and e-visa and a proof of your return flight.  Request your e-visa via the official web page (http://evisa.rop.gov.om/). A single-entry visa  cost OMR20 and is valid for 30 days. This visa can be extended for 30 days at surcharge.

Good to know: a combined visa Oman & Qatar as well as Oman & Dubai is available. All details can be found on www.rop.gov.om

Single parents or adults travelling alone with children may be required to provide documentary evidence of parental responsibility on entering and leaving the country. Please contact your nearest Oman embassy or consulate.
For children under 18 travelling unaccompanied, a consent letter is required from one parent as well as a photocopy of their father's passport. Children should apply for a e-visa well in advance.

Health

Vaccination against yellow fever is only mandatory for entry to Oman if you have travelled to a yellow fever country withn seven days preceding your arrival in Oman. This advice also applies if you transited in a yellow fever country during 12 hours or more.
Recommended vaccinations are: vaccination against DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio) and vaccination against hepatitis A (infectious jaundice).

Time Zones

+ 2 hours (summer time) | + 3 hours (winter time) with reference tp Belgium.

Currency

Omani rial (OMR): 10 OMR = 22.78 EUR en 10 EUR = 4.37 OMR (25/01/2019)

Climate

Oman has a desert climate. The best travel period runs from September to May. Ideal to bring colour to your life when it is grey and cold in our regions. During the Oman winter which runs from November to March it is warm, sunny and temperatures fluctuate around 26 degrees. From May to October is Oman summer. Temperatures can be far off the charts.  40°C is no exception and the high humidity level requires a sensible planning of your visit. Obviously in the desert it is hot, hot, hot as well and temperatures easily reach 50 degrees C. Muscat is not for nothing labelled as one of the most hottest cities in the world. Bear in mind that there is a big difference between North and South Oman. In Dhofar in the south it is significantly less hot in the summer and in the Hadjar mountains it can even cool down to about 5 degrees in winter.


Destination J F M A M J J A S O N D
Muscat 25 26 30 35 39 40 38 35 36 35 31 27

 

Highlights

Oman delights visitors so much some will go the extra mile and call it the next level amazing! Here you can drive for hours along dirt roads in-between the colourful hills and sand dunes and not come across one other single car. Only the legendary wild camels may turn out to be your constant travel companions. Get ready for even more action after sunset as during the day temperatures rise so high people only tend to really get active at nightfall. Here are some of the most important highlights of this fascinating country:

  • Jebel Akhdar of Djabal Akhdar is part of the Al Hadjar Mountain range; It is one of Oman’s most spectacular areas. You can drive for hours by 4x4 over innumerable off-road tracks where deep gorges alternate with tiny villages and you do not know where to look first as breath-taking vistas follow each other at the same speed as your downhill drive.
  • Jebel Shams or Mountain of The Sun is a mountain located in north eastern Oman north of Al Hamra town. It is the highest mountain of the country and is part of Al Hadjar Mountain range. The view has been referred to as the Grand canyon of the Middle East. The mountain passes down from the highest point are narrow, steep and quite scary as well as rough on your bum. You may wish to make some time to go on the mindboggling Balcony walk and its near surrealistic views. The highest peak is 3009m. Especially at sunrise it is magical, hence its nickname ‘Mountain of The Sun’.
  • Muscat is the present-day capital of Oman and has been able to remain largely authentic. It is one of Oman’s capital ports as well. Modern shopping centres rub shoulders with the old incense-scented souks and the large modern Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Muscat is not a walkable city. It is advised to take taxis around which makes it more difficult to get a feel for the city. Heat strokes can be very real.
  • Muscat’s Al Alam Royal Palace is the ceremonial palace of the Sultan Qaboos of Oman located in Old Muscat. Entry is not allowed though visitors are permitted to stop near the gate to take photographs. After all, this is one of the most famous spots in Muscat.
  • Muscat’s Royal Opera House Muscat is Oman’s premier venue for musical arts and culture and is located in the Shati Al-Qurm district of Muscat
  • Muscat’s Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the main mosque in the Sultanate of Oman. Two of the majors features of the grand and opulent interior design is the one-piece prayer carpet which covers the floor of the prayer hall. It was made by 400 women who worked 4 years on it. The mosque is only about 15 years old and it took them 5 years to build.
  • Nizwa & Nizwa Fort at the foot of the Hajjar  mountains, surrounded by hundreds of date palms you will find the traditional city of Nizwa, the former capital of Oman. Its strategic location, rich history and lively market culture is still very much alive in-between the monumental city wall of Nizwa castle, the most visited national monument of Oman. Built in 1650s its underlying structure dates back to the 12th C. 

  • Wadi: when you drive for hours through the dry, dusty landscape of Oman for the first time, you cannot possibly imagine there are tropical river valleys with bright green water, swaying palm trees and colourful flowers. Until you come face to face with one of those wadis: a straight miracle of nature. Wadi's are river valleys where you can swim, walk, hike and relax.
  • Wadi Bani Khalid is located just over 200km from Muscat and a small 2-hour drive from Sur. This dazzling green oasis has justifiably been referred to as paradise in the middle of the desert. It is the best known wadi of the Sharqiyah region. Its stream maintains a constant flow of water throughout the year and is quite big so it can accommodate with ease locals who flock here for a refreshing dip, a day’s outing and picnic or just to enjoy the scenic qualities of this remarkable spot.
  • Wadi Shab en-route between Muscat and Sur you will find the very popular wadi Shab. Its 7 freshwater pools, numerous waterfalls and caves in a spectacular natural setting, and the local BBQ facilities work like a magnet on tourists. Dress code for lady swimmers require a short sleeved T-Shirt and shorts. Men can use regularly swim gear. You can combine your visit here with a wonderful hike through the fertile valley and up the cliffs.
  • Wahiba Sands or Ramlat al-Wahib is a region of desert in Northeast Oman named after the Bani Wahiba tribe, a Bedouin tribe. The perfect place to go for a camel or 4x4 sand dune ride and to watch the brilliant night sky from the comfort of a desert camp. As you drive through this remarkable reddish yellow sand landscape ‘deserted’ gets on a whole new sense.

Amazing Facts:

  • In order to purchase actual alcohol in Oman you need to get a liquor licence and you are only allowed to spend 10% of your wages on alcohol/month. Mountain dew is the alcohol of Oman- there is no Coca Cola to be found.
  • There are so many shades of white in Oman cause no permission is needed to paint your house in white but if you want to do it in any other colour you need special permission from the government. Oman has no income tax!
  • Getting angry in public in Oman is illegal as is using any profanity. Crime is pretty much non-existent in Oman and even petty thefts is still extremely rare. The country is literally terrorism-free along with Qatar. Honking your horn <while driving is strictly prohibited in Oman and you can also get a ticket for your car being dirty.

 

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