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Post details Post   (Expand pics)
kernowclimber
2011-04-05 16:00:08
"Wadi Bimah (Snake Gorge)" from kernowclimber Expand pics
Wadi Bimah (Snake Gorge) (Expand pics)
Skeikh yer Omani and go!
Simon3, you're such a wit!! We didn’t encounter any Somali pirates, AQAP operatives or disgruntled western loathing ‘natives’, just a bold as brass goat that took off with our walking routes in its mouth. In its greed, it managed to eat one but dropped the others that were folded inside whilst doing so. These were hastily retrieved by mcrtchly!! Sadly the video wasn't running at that moment!

Being no stranger to the Middle East, Oman is a fabulous country to travel in and is regarded by the FCO as one of the safest. The Arabs are often misunderstood and much maligned in today's media that is obsessed with Islamic terrorism and religious fundamentalism. Sadly, this is a terrible injustice to some of the most hospitable people you will encounter anywhere on earth. Everyone we met was genuinely friendly and helpful and proud and delighted that we chose to visit their country.

We camped for the entire duration of our trip and never once felt threatened; we didn't see a soul on our trek up Jebel Shams. I felt a wonderful sense of freedom the whole time I was there: free from the endless restrictions on what you can and can't do in Europe, such as lighting a fire. Unlike at home, where our car was broken into while we were rough camping in the Comeraghs a couple of years ago, our rented 4x4 was untouched and I felt 100 per cent sure about leaving it and all our camping gear unattended while we went off to do things.

The Al Hajar Mountains are in the NE of the country, close to the coast with its incredible wadis and most of the interesting sights such as Nizwa, Al Hoota Cave, Barkla Fort, the Wahiba Sands etc. You do not need to go anywhere near the Saudi border (there are no main roads leading there in any case as the area is mainly desert), and if visiting Dhofar (down in the SW of the country) the places you are likely to want to see make it highly unlikely that you will stray into Yemen. The main road network is generally good and off-road conditions are fine with a suitable vehicle.

It's true that the 'Arab Spring' has affected places such as Bahrain, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya making them unsafe for travel. Oman did see some trouble at Sohar, and on the bus from Dubai, we passed a burned out supermarket and a few lingering protesters in tents. These were mainly unemployed malcontents looking for trouble of the ilk that ransacked London recently. The majority of the population revere Sultan Qaboos bin Said and do not seek regime change.

So, do not be deterred by all that you see and read in the media. Visit this beautiful Moslem country, experience the warmth of Arab hospitality and indulge your senses and your muscles in the exquisite turquoise seas, lofty mountains, secret canyons and magical wadis of Oman.
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