The Sultanate of Oman is the hidden gem of the Arabian peninsula. Its history dates back to the Stone age, it’s influenced by three Persian dynasties, then colonized by the Portuguese but fought back to establish very strong Omani empire extending the territory to the Swahili coast in Africa and moving the capital city to Zanzibar.
I went there in August 2014 for a week and I was amazed by this unique country – with its rich history, preserved traditional architecture and modern culture, humble and down-to-earth people, much cooler climate than in UAE, much greener, with beautiful mountains, canyons, wadis, beaches and the wildlife! – I saw hundreds of green sea turtles nesting and laying eggs, bottlenose and spinner dolphins, crabs. I hope in my next visit to see the humpbacks and the blue whales.
In this article I want to share some of my experiences in Oman and to suggest a 6-days itinerary including: sightseeing, shopping, trekking and get in touch with the wildlife.
Ras Al Jinz – where green turtles nest
Unbelievable. Wake up 3 am in the morning, drive to the visitors center and walk down to the beach to see Mars 😉 and hundreds of green turtles digging nests to lay their eggs.
It might not be possible for her to lay down the eggs, probably whole night digging to find underground water or a stone and she has to return to sea or try to dig another hole.
This takes about 2 hours to dig 35 – 50 cm in the sand and she lays between 85 and 200 eggs, depending on her age. After the nest is completely covered, she returns to the sea.
The hatchlings remain buried for days until they all emerge together at night. At around 50 to 70 days, the eggs hatch during the night, and the hatchlings instinctively head directly into the water. This is the most dangerous time in a turtle’s life. As they walk, predators, such as gulls and crabs, feed on them. A significant percentage never make it to the ocean.
It is estimated that only 1% of hatchlings reach sexual maturity at the age of 20 to 50 years old.
Why protect the turtles?
Green sea turtles play an essential role within the ecosystem in which they live. In the seagrass beds, the turtles feed on the seagrass by trimming only the top and leaving the roots of the plant. Through their feeding technique, the turtles help to improve the health and growth of the seagrass beds. The healthy seagrass beds that the turtles provide give habitat and feeding grounds for many species of fish and crustaceans. On the nesting beaches, the green sea turtles provide key nutrients for the ecosystem through their hatched egg shells.
Nizwa is one of the oldest cities in Oman and it was once a center of trade, religion, education and art. Its Jama (grand mosque) was formerly a center for Islamic learning and the city is a center for date growing and is the market place for the area.
I really liked the city and especially the fort.
Exotic, historic, unusual, adventurous and geologically stunning. “Laid-back and slow” in the tumultuous Arab world sounds like an oxymoron, but in Oman’s case, it happens to be true, due to its history on the crossroads of the sea-trading world; that pioneering culture brought in different influences from around the world….
Oman packs a lot in a small package, with desert, rugged coast and beaches, water sports and diving, forts-every-few-miles, green valleys, old school bazaars and old school Arabian hospitality.
Just loved this country <3
Bimmah Sink hole
Local Omanis still believe the Bimmah Sinkhole Oman was created by a falling star.
The hole, which is not the only one in Oman, is a 40 meter wide and 20 meeter deep cavernous hole, filled with mutli-toned turquoise water. It is surrounded by the sea on one side and the mountains on the other.
The daily mail even called it the world’s most beautiful sinkhole…