Jebel AkhdarThe region surrounding Nizwa is famed for itsnatural beauty, with the Jebel Akhdar living up to their name 'the Green Mountains'. Many of the hills have been terraced for orchards andagricultural fields. Within this area you will alsofind Wadi Ghul, Oman's Grand Canyon, with itsbreathtaking sheer drop of over a kilometre.The region boasts several important historicalsites, including the beehive tombs of Bat and Al Ayn, burial sites which have been dated to3000 BC and are now UNESCO World HeritageSites. You are never far from a fort, and Bahla andJabrin are two great examples. Bahla's historicalimportance is very evident in the town's massivewalls, stretching for 12 kilometres. The town's fortis another UNESCO protected site, dating to1000 BC. Nearby Jabrin is a smaller settlementbut has an equally impressive fort, renowned forits exquisite painted ceilings.NizwaNizwa, the former capital of Oman, is nestledbelow the Jebel Akhdar, a set of mountains whichforms part of the Hajar Range. Seemingly cut off from the rest of Oman, this bustling urban hub comes as a surprise when approached acrossthe mountains or from the deserts of Oman. The town attracts traders from far and wide,coming for the famous Friday market to buy andsell goats, sheep and cattle. Both Omani men and women take part in the auction so this is agood place to see some of the beautiful nationalcostumes, the men wearing white robes, turbansor small caps and many of the women in intricate face veils and colourful headscarves. The town itself has one of the most impressiveforts in Oman, hinting at the town's past role as the capital.94Village in the Jebel AkhdarNizwa FortThe View Campsite, near NizwaLady at Nizwa's Friday marketTHEVIEWCAMPSITE, NEARNIZWAPerched on a ridge high above the town of AlHamra, the View Campsite has 15 tents, seven ofwhich have views over the valley. All the tentshave laminate flooring, a basic air-conditioner andheater, and en suite shower rooms. The valley-view tents have raised terraces which are a greatplace to take in the view, whilst the courtyard-viewtents also have smaller patios for sitting out andenjoying the peacefulness of the area. Meals areserved in the small dining area which also looksover the valley and Al Hamra. The View Campsiteoffers a comfortable and altogether differentexperience to most other options in the area.
Wahiba SandsAbout four hours drive from Muscat, the WahibaSands are the most accessible of the desert areasof Oman. The sands are home to numerousspecies of plants and animals and are therefore asite of scientific interest, as well as being a populardestination for visitors. In places, the dunes reach150 metres in height, offering great opportunitiesfor exhilarating 4x4 drives and fabulous views ofdesert sunsets. The area is sparsely populated butthere are some Bedouin tribes which are lessnomadic than in the past and have settled in theWahiba Sands. They welcome visitors to theirhomes, displaying the typical hospitality associatedwith this region.There is a range of accommodation available in the Wahiba Sands, from the more basicBedouin tents and wooden barasti-style huts toair-conditioned, en suite rooms or private campsset up just for you. We recommend spendingtwo nights in the desert so that you have time toexplore the dunes or organise other activities likecamel rides or quad-biking, but one night willallow you to experience the landscape and thewonderful peace and solitude of this area.DESERTNIGHTSCAMP, WAHIBASANDSSet between two 30 metre dunes, yet only 11 kilometres from the main road, the DesertNights Camp has a real feeling of peace andrelaxation. Each air-conditioned 'tent' comprises alounge, bedroom and bathroom and is equippedwith all the facilities of a luxury hotel. There is arange of activities from quad-biking and camelriding to 4x4 dune bashing. In the evening, dinneris provided in the main restaurant with a chanceto relax afterwards under the stars and listen tolocal musicians.www.audleytravel.com/oman ?01993 838 430 ?Oman95Ras Al JinzOn the coast south of Muscat is the small cove of Ras Al Jinz. It is here that Omani effortsto preserve the marine life of the area areconcentrated, at the Ras Al Jinz Nature Reserve.The beach is a prime spot for turtles to comeashore to lay their eggs all year round, althoughthe principal season for nesting is between Julyand September. There is a good visitor centrenext to the beach along with accommodation atCarapace Lodge, perfect for late evening andearly morning visits to view the turtles.Turtle at Ras Al Jinz Desert Nights Camp, Wahiba SandsBoy at the market, NizwaCamels in the Wahiba SandsNizwa Mosque and the Jebel AkhdarBeehive tombs of Al Ayn, Jebel AkhdarFisherman, Ras Al Jinz