Beauty has an address ~ Oman
Oman’s Road Less Traveled
American travelers’ current reluctance to visit the Middle East, egged on by
media hype about danger and Islamic fear-mongering, has left Oman almost
entirely to the young Europeans now flocking there.
Our loss is their big gain. I just spent seven days kayaking the along the
Straights of Hormuz, some 20 miles from the Iran border, and trekking on the
Ru’us Al Jebel mountain plateau on Oman’s Musandam Peninsula. My verdict? Pack
your bags and go if you can. The intense heat and bone-dry terrain do add up to
one of the most inhospitable places I have come across (the best months for
travel are October to April), but it is also one of the most stunningly
beautiful places I have been—and has the potential to stay this way.
While Dubai chases mass tourism, Oman’s far-sighted and enlightened Sultan
embraces a different tourism model—one that affirms traditional culture and
nature. The result is a welcoming country more focused on ecotourism than
On my trip, I met Paul Oliver, a former British backpacker and mountain
climber, at his stone house in Dibba, a small fishing enclave on Oman’s north
coast. He had the good fortune to run out of money here more than a decade ago
during an overland journey to India. He stayed and founded Absolute Adventure
and a green-travel charity called Gulf for Good. Together, with his ace desert
guide Ram Sundar, they offer “leave no trace” journeys into Oman’s backcountry,
where it is still possible to find old Arabia and experience the genuine
hospitality of desert villagers.
Having just returned from Oman, I have found myself answering a lot of
questions from curious people back in U.S. The big one: How dangerous was it? My
answer is simple—I am already planning my next trip there, this time to the
remote southern coast and the Wahiba sands of the Empty Quarter.