Travel Outside the Box, First Stop, Oman
One of the joys of being in the travel industry for over a quarter century is meeting people from all over the globe who are passionate about their country. These outfitters love nothing more than the opportunity to show our clientele the destination they know best. We’re all part of the same travel family and I feel comfortable putting often apprehensive folks in their more than capable hands. In fact, nothing gets me more excited than sending people to exotic destinations well beyond their comfort zone. When someone returns from one of the locales I’m going to describe this week, they’re so excited to tell me the fascinating sights, culture, food, wildlife, and hospitality they encountered.
Despite ongoing tensions in the Middle East, tourism in Oman is rising steadily due to its safety and authentic sights. You can still see the Arabia of 100 years ago. Called the Empty Quarter, it’s the world’s largest sand desert. The main city of Muscat is lively and modern but the sultan has kept a tight leash on development so don’t expect futuristic skyscrapers like Dubai. It’s not uncommon for a businessman to arrive at lunch via his camel. Fort Jabrin, built in the 1600s at the edge of the desert southwest of Muscat, is an Arabian Castle with whitewashed walls and elaborately painted ceilings. Another highlight is a visit to the exquisite Misfat al Abriyeen, a terraced village on the side of a mountain that hasn’t changed in centuries. It has date palms and pomegranate trees and a falaj system for channeling water down through the terraces.
Our contact in Oman, Zahara Tours, has been in business since 1971 and will happily show you the most thrilling sites in the country on an itinerary custom-designed for you. Expect to stay at some of the latest hotel openings, like Anantara Salalah Resort, set to open this year in southern Oman between a natural lagoon and the beach. The resort is in close proximity to the Al Baleed UNESCO archaeological site, a former port from the frankincense trade that dates back to the 8th century.