from Muscat to Salalah

After a smooth 7 hours air-borne London to Muscat, we arrived to pure blue skies and the alluring sight of the Grand Mosque as we sped our way to a long-time favourite, the fabulous Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.

I’d last visited Oman in 2006, and had forgotten what a contrast it offers to the UAE. Whilst we climbed all 123 stories of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Sultanate of Oman prohibits the construction of buildings more than 14 stories, ensuring an altogether different skyline that doesn’t compete with the majestic mountains all around. We also saw many viillages and stone-built local houses nestled in the foothills and were fascinated to hear that upon reaching the age of 23, each Omani man receives 600sqm to build their own home. 

Following a night of rest and relaxation and fun frolic on the lazy river, it was time to head further afield and explore the Hajar mountains as part of our quest to see what lies beyond Muscat and the beaches. Did you know that Oman is known as the Switzerland of the Middle East due to these majestic peaks? 

We could certainly see why as we wound our way up the mountain-sides on our 2-3 hour journey to the Anantara Jabel Akhdar, made famous in ‘Life Beyond the Lobby’ and also renowned as the location of ‘Diana’s Point’. Whilst certainly a jaw-dropping journey, we were pleasingly reassured by the impressive road safety guards apparent at every turn – this is a Sultanate that takes road safety extremely seriously. The name means Green Mountain – not a reference you would expect in the arid Middle East but in fact we passed many local families picnicking beside wadis – the source of the abundant greenery! Once ensconced in the sublime care of the Anantara, you could quite easily opt to pass your time marvelling at the views from the restaurant terraces and rim-flow pool, but there’s also plenty to lure you to keep active and explore. Opt for a Panoramic View Room if you’re after incredible vistas 24/7, or perhaps a suite with private pool courtyard if you have a mini-mermaid in tow like me! Little guests are also better catered for than I’d anticipated, with a toddler pool, kids-club and children’s menus.

A drive back to Muscat and flight of just over an hour took us to the southern city of Salalah. This lesser known region of Oman lies on the Indian Ocean and is therefore blessed with the kind of soft white sands normally associated with islands such as the Maldives. Once more, our home for the duration was an Anantara resort – this time the Al Baleed Resort Salalah, offering rather unique accommodation by Middle Eastern standards, in the form of low-rise, bright and airy rooms, including some of the most envy-inducing suites I’ve seen in the Middle East, especially their One Bedroom Beach Pool Villas which offer an experience you’d more  associate with the Maldives.

We didn’t include a trip to the desert on this occasion, but you can easily add a stay at Desert Night’s Camp to give an additional dimension to your Omani adventure. Dune bashing is a popular activity here, alongside quad-biking, star-gazing and camel rides. 

We’d also always recommend a stop-over in Muscat, a really charming city that’s easy to navigate – stroll along the Cornish or visit the souk that’s been selling local wares for over 150 years.

About the author

Bushbaby was founded by Abi in 2004, with the aim of helping families experience authentic and memorable long-haul holidays, whilst not compromising on style and comfort when travelling with young children in tow! Abi has travelled to over 60 countries with her husband Jim (who proposed at Everest base camp) and lives in Surrey with her 3 children.

Abi Shaw - Bushbaby founder and avid explorer!

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