Dubai to Muscat

February 05, 2011

Our longest road adventure from Dubai yet is to the Sultanate of Oman. 
It was a great trip highlighted by our drive up to Jebel Akhdar (or Jabal Al Akdhar). There's more treasures out of Muscat, and we hoped we had more than two days to spare.

Dubai - Sharjah Kalba Road - Muscat - Nizwa - Al Ain - Dubai
We started out 10 am on Friday from Dubai and took the Sharjah-Kalba Road (from E11, take a right to E611 Maliha Road). It was a relaxing drive on a not-a-busy road; and a scenic option through the 1.27 km tunnel then up-and-down the rocky mountain ranges.

Reaching Kalba, we took right towards the UAE- Oman border for our exit and entry formalities. UAE charged AED 35/ person for the exit stamp, while it's AED 50/ person for the Oman entry stamp. I wonder though that the American passport holder we were following in the cue paid AED 200 each. By the way, an Oman car insurance cover is required.

The Omani officers were accommodating and friendly. It was our head start for gulf hospitality from the Omani locals.
Leaving the border, I was expecting a coastal drive but was frustrated. Yet, it was nice since it was all settlements along the road until we reached Muscat. None of the open desert we had in mind, but instead some greens of plantations and houses lining the road. That took us approximately 450 kms in total from Dubai in about 5.5 hours (a bit slow, ei? It's since we cant speed on Sharjah-Kalba Road, then there's the border delay).

In Muscat, a detailed map of the roads is a must, since it could be confusing. If you know someone from there (thank you Ma'am L for your map), request them to get you one from the Ministry of Tourism along with other Oman maps you might need. 

We only had the next four hours, which we spent driving in the interiors of Al Khuwair and to Old Muscat.

Al Khuwair gave us a better feeling of Muscat as a city. There's no skyscrapers like in Dubai yet I got a feel people has more than enough for themselves. Two-level villas within the city are serving a mix of residential and commercial use. I almost did not notice old-modeled cars on the road, and the only obvious public tranport are the taxi-s. By now I got the impression that this country, without its skyscrapers far stands on a stable economy, with no fear on real estate woes.

We headed next to Old Muscat, for the commercial port and historical forts.

The Royal Palace in Old Muscat

Al Jalali Fort at Muscat Bay built in the 16th century

Forts are all around Oman, left of Oman's need for defense against potential invaders then
If we've left Dubai hours earlier, then we could've more day light to take photos as well as cover other Muscat's landmarks. We also called off to see the Sink Hole in Sur.

By 8pm, we were back in Al Khuwair and settled in Samara Hotel for a budget night stay of AED 300. 

The next day, we left Muscat by 8:30 am towards Nizwa for another 175kms. Driving was a breeze, and it was the first time after running 73,000 kms that the Fortuner's speed  indicator tilted to 150 km/h. 

Along the road to Nizwa

It was Al Hoota Cave in mind that we decided on this route. But as with the advice of the Ministry of Tourism officer, we took to Jabal Al Akhdar first since we'd be passing by Al Hoota Cave on our way out to Al Ain. The mountain drive to Akhdar was magnificent, it deserves it's own blog post, which I'll be featuring next. This turned out to be the highlight of our trip.

We ascended more than 2000 meters above sea level, which is higher than that of my cool mountain hometown in Baguio, Philippines at 1500 meters elevation. It took us four hours out of our 1.5 hours budget. 

It was 3:30 pm when we were back at Nizwa town which is 280 kilometers to Al Ain. Exiting at the open road, we noticed it was an undivided, single lane highway with no light posts. We didnt want being caught in the dark, we immediately ruled out going to Al Hoota cave. By the time we reached Ibri, there were still no light posts but we were relived  the road has turned two lanes each with divider.

The Hajar mountains, which the Jabal Akdhar is part of, had lined the long highway we passed by, at some instances, the rock formations got me awed.

At the intersection exiting to Al Ain and Buraimi, we took Al Ain, which is close by as the sun had set. Looking at the map, it seemed we could've saved time on Al Ain traffic had we took the Buraimi border. 

We were just thankful the li'l boy was asleep for three hours on the way (his gremliness had been reserved until we were on Al Ain Road, he kept complaining his butts are tired). It was 9pm when we reached home in Dubai.

 In a nutshell, Oman is a treasure to explore. The Omanis we asked help from are generally hospitable and their English communication is unexpectedly better than their other counterparts in the region. The brochures we now have on hand tells how much it has to offer (Historical, cultural and nature sights, including Jebel Shams at 3000 meters above sea level, the Sink Hole of Sur, giant green turtles of Ras Al Jinze, the natural swimming pools of Wadi Bai Khalid, Al Hoota Cave in Nizwa, among others).

That's it for now on our Oman drive. I'll write next about Jabal Al Akhdar.

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  1. wow...this is one scenic drive. i hope to see these places someday.

    apay napudot ditan? we're still in the midst of winter.

  2. wow! I enjoyed looking at your photos sabay ng pagbabasa. Dami na katrabaho ko ang nakapunta ng Oman and nag enjoy rin sila.

    Tama Bevs, kung thru Buraimi border kayo dumaan talagang nakatipid kayo ng oras.

    Sure na hihintayin ko ang kasunod na post mo.

  3. I envy your long drives! Ang tamad kase namin, hehehe.

    Muscat is beautiful!

  4. @ Kayni - come join us on our long drives :-) Nalammin pay lang ditoy at this time. Next time you're nearby the desert, please drop by here...

    @ Misalyn - Thank you thank you... Ang daming magandang puntahan sa Oman, I never thought, kaso magkakalayo. Two days wasnt enough.

    @ Mumsified - Muscat indeed is. The first time I saw it in pictures, I thought it's just one of the ordinary places, but one has got to step on it to appreciate it more.


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