Lying halfway between the Omani capital of Muscat and the neighbouring city of Dubai. In ancient times, Sohar was the capital of Oman and where Sinbad the Sailor was reputedly born.
Sohar is a diverse mix of the old and new, with a wonderful souk still providing a central trading hub for locals and visitors alike. In the background, one of the world’s largest ports is being developed to handle trade of a greater magnitude. While new infrastructure is built, careful attention is also being paid to restoring and maintaining the icons of its less industrial past, such as the magnificent Sohar Fort.
Nakhal is a small village just under one and a half hour’s drive from Muscat, where a spring feeds a green band of vegetation that stands out vibrantly against the backdrop of the Hajjr mountains’ jagged peaks. The beautifully restored Nakhal Fort stands sentinel over the village, a remnant of a time when Oman was ruled by the Portuguese nearly 400 years ago.
Heading west, Al Batinah’s landscape becomes more lush and fertile. For centuries, locals have taken advantage of the natural conditions provided by the convergence of wadis at the base of the Hajjrs to support a variety of crops, fruits and vegetables. The agricultural importance of this region is evidenced by its title ‘The Bread Basket of Oman’.
Dimaniyyat Islands Nature Reserve
The Dimaniyyat Islands Nature Reserve lies along the coast of south-eastern Al Batinah, consisting of nine islands located approximately 20km from the shore. Pristine and almost untouched by man, they are the perfect place for ecologically-minded travellers to experience nature at its best as they snorkel and dive amongst its many tropical wonders. Visiting permits with strict conditions ensure that the site will remain beautifully preserved for generations to come.
Rustaq, located around 2 hours south of Muscat, is famous for its impressive fort and therapeutic hot springs. At one point in Oman’s history, Rustaq was the nation’s capital. Rustaq Fort actually predates the arrival of Islam in Oman by four centuries, making its foundations over 1300 years old. Today, it has been beautifully restored and is open to visitors. Nearby, the hot springs are heated by the warmth of natural gases underneath the earth’s surface, beckoning those who dare to lower themselves into the steaming water to experience its healing properties.