Last week I took an impromptu trip down to Muscat again with some friends on a road trip. We stayed in a fab little villa, via AirBnB where we were greeted with warm hospitality by our hosts. With less than three days, and a lot of driving in between, our plan was to do the tourist things and enjoy some down time.
Driving from Dubai it was a 6 hour trip, including boarder crossings, we finally arrived at 18 November street, just down the road from The Chedi Muscat after an hour of getting lost in city. After a quick swim in the pool, we headed into Muttrah to check out the old marina. Night fell quickly, the traffic increased and we headed out to the Intercon for supper and drinks at Trader Vics. A lovely evening of French Polynesian cuisine as well as numerous cocktails was the perfect way to settle into holiday mode.
Taking advice from our hosts, we spent our only full day in Oman travelling to Wadi Shab. Wadi Shab is located an hour and a half south of Muscat, on the road to Sur. The trek is one of the best things I have done in the Middle East, the enormous wadi or canyan is made up of a pools of fresh water and caverns to explore. The quick boat trip across the ‘lake’ was a return fair of 10AED each and on reaching the other side we followed the path to the main pools. The treck itself takes about 40-45 mins and at times you are clambering through caverns and over rocks. We were advised not to bring much luggage with us, cameras and water was enough and the hot weather would sun dry us on the way back.
Upon reaching the pools, a collection of 3 or 4, the path stops and all further travel can be swam, or waded through depending on the depths of the pools. At the very end is a cave with an underground waterfall which was the pinnacle of this lush little oasis that I had not heard of before my trip. There were a lot of tourists but the size of the place staggers numbers and many of the OAPs that began the trek were unable to complete it due to the rockiness, trainers are advisable but you can make do with flip flops as we did.
That evening, we headed to The Restaurant – the all day dining venue at The Chedi Muscat where we ate numerous seafood dishes and enjoyed the elegant atmosphere. It is pricey, it is worth it.
Our final day in Muscat, the three musketeers set off into Muttrah to visit the souk. A rule in all souk haggling is to divide the fixed price by 3 and work towards something both vendor and customer can agree on. The only thing we ended up buying were postcards and I was pleased enough with this purchase. As most souks do, the markets were filled with an assortment of traditional Omani clothing, furniture, jewellery and paintings as well as cheaper goods and ‘copy’ designer items. The Sultan Qaboos Palace was on our list of places to go however with time running tight, sadly we gave it a miss.