Lost in nature
A lot of countries take pride in their spectacular scenery, and Oman is rightly one of them. A reason in itself to visit the Peninsula nation, the local landscape offers surprising diversity for such a small space. All along the coast, cream-coloured beaches border glittering blue waters, home to turtles and dolphins, while in the desert, wind-swept dunes give way to verdant oases and craggy mountain ranges dotted with rustic villages and the occasional fortress. There are echoing caves to be explored and tree-lined wadis where natural pools are perfect for a refreshing swim, not to mention the lush green valleys and Frankincense groves of Dhofar in the south.
Need to know
Oman Holiday Architects offers a variety of itineraries focusing on the country’s attractions. The nine-day Oman’s Natural Splendour tour costs from Dh8,308 per person including accommodation, tours, car hire and transfers. www.omanholidayarchitects.net
Desert camping adventure
The mighty Wahiba Sands are home to some of the most magnificent dunes in the Arabian desert and have long lured curious explorers, including Wilfred Thesiger, who took great risks to get a closer look at the sands. Today, warring tribes and the chances of perishing from dehydration miles from the nearest well no longer pose a threat to visitors looking to explore the area on guided tours or spend a night under the stars Bedouin-style. Desert Nights Camp offers a luxurious spin on this traditional experience and guests get to stay in lavish tented abodes that open out on to spectacular views of the reddish-gold Wahiba Sands.
Need to know
A three-night stay with Desert Nights Camp costs from Dh5,467 per person and includes one night’s accommodation at a hotel and two nights at the camp in addition to a variety of cultural excursions and activities. www.omanhotels.com/desertnightscamp
With its unaffected beauty and laid-back charm, the Omani capital is a rare jewel in a region where many traces of the past are being swept away to make way for the new. The historic port city still retains its old-world character, with bustling bazaars and quaint fishing villages that recall earlier eras and offer a fascinating window into another Arabia. Muscat Adventure Centre runs half and full day tours that allow you to bask in the culture and history of this city, including the spectacular Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the famous Muttrah Souq.
Need to know
It takes just over an hour to fly to the Omani capital. Muscat Adventure Centre’s tours start from Dh330. Visit www.holiday-in-oman.com for more details. In terms of accommodation, The Platinum is a stylish new four-star hotel in the heart of Muscat complete with swimming pool and other amenities. Rooms start from Dh560. www.theplatinumoman.com
Oman is a haven for sporty types, thanks to an eclectic collection of environments that offers no end of athletic opportunities. From climbing and trekking to fishing and diving, the to-do list for adventure seekers is endless and numerous local organisations are on hand to provide the tools necessary. Scott Dunn runs a dedicated trekking and cycling holiday that passes through mountains, deserts and wadis, while the Sense of Adventure package at the five-star Six Senses Zighy Bay in the Musandam Peninsula includes a range of activities from mountain biking and paragliding to kayaking and boot camp training.
Need to know
The seven-day Sense of Adventure package starts from Dh14,082 per person. www.sixsenses.com/resorts/zighy-bay. The 10-night Scott Dunn Active Oman trip costs Dh14,890 and takes in Muscat, Nizwa and the Wahiba Sands, including an overnight stay in a desert camp. www.scottdunn.com
Perched 2,000m above sea level, on the tip of a peak in the heart of the Hajar mountain range, the Alila Jabal Akhdar Oman hotel couldn’t feel further removed from city living. Newly launched, this luxurious property overlooks a plunging gorge and provides an ideal base for exploring the region’s breathtaking beauty or simply holing up in an environment of the utmost comfort, forgetting about real life for a few blissful days. Inside, the design goes several steps beyond the typical five-star luxury of Middle Eastern resorts with a creative, contemporary feel that incorporates traditional touches with sleek, modern finishings.
Need to know
Rooms in peak season at the Alila Jabal Akhdar Oman start from Dh1,574, including breakfast. www.alilahotels.com/jabalakhdar
Life’s a beach
What better way to celebrate a centenary than with a 100-hour long, no-expenses-spared, once-in-a-century bash? This is exactly how Florida’s most famous tourist strip, Miami Beach, plans to mark its milestone birthday, starting on March 22 and running right through to March 26. The festivities range from fitness events, fashion shows and mass weddings to straight-up beach parties complete with conga lines and live performers.
Forget road rage – in-flight skirmishes are the latest transport hazard to watch out for, with a reported rise in air-rage incidents. Figures released by the UK Civil Aviation Authority reveal that 114 incidents of air rage were reported last year compared with 85 in 2013 and 47 in 2012. Smoking in the lavatories and aggression were among the most common complaints.
Renovation work has been performed on the international space station to create two parking spots that will be used for commercial space craft. This includes those run by private companies such a Boeing and Space X, both of which are currently preparing capsules to ferry tourists to and from the station.