Saiq Plateau, Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman

Oman Travelogue, Part 5: from the Jabal Al Akhdar to Muscat, via Sur

This is part 5 of my series of articles about my recent photo tour in the Sultanate of Oman.

You can find the previously published parts here:

I am currently offering a photo tour of Oman. Would you like to join me there? Check out the tour page and sign up to travel to Oman with me.

Saiq Plateau

The Saiq Plateau is part of the Jabal Al Akhdar mountain range. The latter’s name means “the green mountain”, which hints to the fact that the area receives enough precipitation, with respect to the rest of the region, to allow plants to grow and some forms of agriculture. The part known as the Saiq Plateau is famous in particular for the cultivation of roses. It is a spectacular plateau, cut by deep gorges, that is quite popular with Oman tourists because of its cooler climate.

Saiq Plateau, Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman

On the Saiq Plateau

Saiq Plateau, Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman

An abandoned village on the Saiq Plateau

Saiq Plateau, Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman

On the Saiq Plateau

Saiq Plateau, Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman

On the Saiq Plateau

Sharqiya Sands

The Sharqiya Sands (formerly known as Wahiba Sands) are a wide swath of desert in northern Oman that is characterized by sand-dune ridges that extend north-to-south for hundreds of kilometers. When I travel to Oman, I always include a night in a desert camp in my itineraries and I made no exception this time.

Accommodations in the desert range from eco-friendly camps with bedouin huts made of palm leaves and blankets, with no electricity or running water, to comfortable resorts that include concrete bungalows and a swimming pool. For our stay this time, we chose the 1000 Nights Camp, which fits squarely within the latter category. While I don’t mind roughing it a bit, I knew some of my guests would have appreciated some more comforts.

Sharqiya Sands

Sharqiya Sands

Sharqiya Sands

Sharqiya Sands

I always love spending some time in the desert, especially if I can drive a 4WD up and down the dunes. Not that I’m vary good at it and in fact I got stuck once. Fortunately, we had a local bedouin driver with us and he quickly got my car unstuck. He was also so kind as to invite our group to his humble tent in a remote area of the desert, where he offered us coffee and dates. No matter how poor their dwellings are, hospitality is always a sacred duty for the people of this land.

Bedouin hospitality: Coffee and dates

Bedouin hospitality: Coffee and dates

Another reason to spend a night in the desert is because of the exceptional clarity of the night sky. Combined with very low light pollution, it makes it easy to photograph amazing starry skies. Unfortunately, you cannot see the Milky Way in winter from northern latitudes.

If the moon is bright, it will illuminate the land with so much intensity that even moderately long exposures will reveal a lot of detail on the ground.

1000 Nights Desert Camp, Sharqiya, Oman

1000 Nights Desert Camp

1000 Nights Desert Camp, Sharqiya, Oman

1000 Nights Desert Camp

Sur

On our way back to Muscat, we stopped for a few hours in the seaside city of Sur. We were there at around midday, so we didn’t certainly get the best light. I’d love to go back for more time one day, as there are many spots from where one can take great photos with the right light.

Boats on the beach in Sur, Oman

Sur

Sur, Oman

Sur

Fisherman repairing nets in Sur, Oman

Sur

The main reason why we stopped in Sur, however, wasn’t for getting landscape photos, but to visit one of the last remaining shipyards where the traditional  dhows, the wooden boats that are typical of the Persian Gulf, are still built without the use of plastic, steel or industrial machinery.

We were lucky enough to find one of those boats under construction and to be allowed to climb inside, with the help of a friendly Bengalese shipbuilder.

Inside a dhow in Sur, Oman

Inside a dhow in Sur

The Muttrah Fish Market

After having returned to Muscat and having spent one last night there, we got up early on the morning of our last day to drive to Muttrah and go to the local fish market. Since the building that hosts the market has recently been completely renovated, I was afraid that the place would lose much of its character. Luckily, it turned out to be still an amazing place, only cleaner and less chaotic.

The best thing you can do in Muttrah is wait for the boats to come ashore and offload the catch of the day, which is immediately auctioned to the highest bidder and transferred inside the market to be sold to the public.

This is just an incredible pace to capture some real life scenes, especially with the great light of the early morning.

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah, Oman

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah, Oman

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah, Oman

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah, Oman

Offloading the catch of the day in Muttrah

Muttrah Fish Market, Oman

Muttrah Fish Market

Cutting Fish, Muttrah Fish Market, Oman

Cutting Fish, Muttrah Fish Market

This concludes my series of articles about Oman, but I hope to be back there soon and see some of the things I haven’t seen yet. Would you like to travel with me?

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