Recently opened to the outside world, the country has not yet been damaged by the tourism industry. There are no queues in museums, there are few visitors to the beaches, the coasts have very beautiful solitary coves, hiking trails and the most visited areas are never crowded... It is even common to find yourself alone or with a handful of tourists on an archaeological site or simply in a village: the pleasure of the exclusivity that only emerging destinations provide... Like an impression of off-field, timeless travel. At the same time, the local population is very attached to its values and, under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos, is taking care to preserve its customs and heritage. The inhabitants still wear traditional costumes on a massive scale, even in Muscat. The precepts of Islam punctuate the course of the days. Old villages and monuments are gradually being rehabilitated. Unlike the nearby emirates, the Sultanate does not suffer from a hyperbolic real estate frenzy. Although some very large projects are underway, the whole country remains wild and unspoilt, with just the right amount of quality infrastructure (excellent road network in particular) to facilitate access to all regions. Muscat itself remains a capital on a human scale, without skyscrapers or tall buildings: a welcoming Arab city, as if melted into its natural environment, like other cities in the country. Here you can taste the attractions of a privileged discovery, accompanied by a perfume of adventure, of clearing, as in the case of these hamlets perched on the side of mountains and that you can only gain by the effort of a walk.... Almost a reward.
A preserved nature :
Since Sultan Qaboos came to power in 1970, the government has integrated environmental issues into its policy. Several animal species (white oryx, Arabian leopard, etc.) are protected, hunting is prohibited by royal decree, several areas have been declared and classified as Natural Reserves, etc. These initiatives have helped to preserve Omani biodiversity and make the Sultanate an ecotourism destination in its own right. The seabed is rich, the coasts are home to several marine turtle breeding sites, territorial waters are home to a large dolphin population, whales are seen offshore... At the same time, the country remains sparsely populated and therefore poorly built. The desert expanses are immense, like the mountains are high and shattered, the oases lush: nature with a large "N", spacious, sincere, of a beautiful geological diversity. You take your hiking boots with you and let yourself be guided through XXL panoramas: endless dunes, isolated beaches, gorges and canyons, unexpected fjords... We enter huge caves, canoe in the mangrove swamp, abseil down into chasms.... And to stay as close as possible to real life, we opt for camping: an option frequently offered by local hosts, who are big lovers of wide open spaces!
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette