Taking time out from creating the brochures which land on your doorsteps, Explore's Marketing Services Manager Claire Breakspear recently traveled to Oman on our Heights of Oman holiday. Here she shares her thoughts on the tour.
Adventurous, trekking, swimming in caves, snorkelling, kayaking
Natural – wild camping, wildlife, getting closer to nature
......... All words that sum up and describe my recent experiences when I went on the Heights of Oman tour. So much was squeezed into such a short space of time it felt as if we’d been away for ages whilst gaining a real snapshot into this fascinating country.
Our small group started our tour in Muscat. This was a leap into life in a Moslem environment, particularly for the women as we were instructed to cover up from head to toe, despite temperatures in the high 30’s, ready for a tour of the Grand Mosque.
Then we left the city life behind to begin an exciting week of exploring off the beaten track. Walking boots on and layers of clothing dramatically reduced, we spent the afternoon on the Sayq Plateau wandering through the fertile landscape, dotted with villages and a glimmer of the traditional way of life, getting our first real taste of the beauty of Oman. Later we pitched our tents for our initiation into wild camping Omani style.
The next few days were spent crammed with activity giving an amazing insight into the diversity of landscapes, wildlife, food and culture of this intriguing country. We pitched our tents in the mountains, in the desert, on beaches or just slept out under the stars, which were simply mesmerising, and finally took to the Arabian Sea for a chilled out lazy night afloat a traditional Omani Dhow boat.
Throughout it all, Rob our Tour Leader completed the overall experience with his in-depth knowledge on anything and everything, pampering to our whims although even he drew the line at putting up our tents or making early morning tea! However, for the more resourcful help can be always be found and for the females of the group - ‘Nigel’ a true British gentleman, was always quick to offer assistance!
Being quite a veteran to Explore trekking tours I didn’t have any real concerns prior to booking this tour except the fact that it was going to be hot, there would be a lack of showers and I have vivid childhood memories of family beach hols and sand getting everywhere – and I mean everywhere ……, and so the idea of desert camping was already ear-marked as a day just to be endured. However, this turned out to be a major highlight of tour for me. That feeling of waking up at sunrise, climbing the nearest dune, like walking on virgin snow …… it was magical.
As for the lack of showers, well there was ample opportunities to swim in the sea and not forgetting swimming in the fresh water of Wadi Shab and discovering the hidden caves - water scorpions too, and then to wrap it all up, jumping off the Dhow in the Arabian Sea..
So what more can i say, except that this was a fantastic tour and has left me feeling that Oman is definately a destination that i want to return to whether it be to take in more of the landscape through extensive trekking, or perhaps gain a more indepth insight into the culture on our Discovery tour Arabian Sands.