Where Are All the Tourists At? – Sur, Oman

I know that it is Christmas time in a Muslim country, and there are still parts of the world that are recovering from the Covid hangover, but the one thing that had really shocked me about my trip to Oman is the fact that it feels like we are the only people out here. When I was in Muscat, I thought that it was because this city is not necessarily the tourist destination, and people come to Oman to explore its other beaches and the mountains. But when I travel the roads and make it to other places where there should be tourists gathering between spots, I am amaze at how empty it is.

It doesn’t mean that they are all gone. We did see a tour group hanging out at the viewpoint for the lighthouse in Sur. They were there enjoying their box lunches, but in another country, this place would be packed with people and it would be almost impossible to get a picture of the bay. Even the beach was completely empty. I did see a couple of locals there, hanging out under the shady spots created along the corniche, but the only people I saw walking along the sand were another local couple and a guy out doing his morning run. Even the town of Sur seems to be completely devoid of people.

Now would seem the time to bring the family out to this country. It is a beautiful place to explore, and the weather is not unbearable at this time. In fact it is the weather I look for on a sunny day, barely hitting 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius. It gets a little warm during the day, but cools off at night to a comfortable temperature to enjoy the patio with. Why wouldn’t the tease of that not bring more people, especially considering the cold European countries are not that far away?

I also wonder if the World Cup has something to do with the lack of tourists. Many people traveled to Qatar and spent a lot of money there who might have come to Oman otherwise. But if you are making your way all the way to the Middle East, wouldn’t you want to spend a little more time there exploring some of the other places that it has to offer. I do know that when the Olympics were in Salt Lake City there were a lot of people who traveled to Colorado to ski the slopes there, so why wouldn’t they do the same thing here?

It does keep me wondering, but then again, it is not a bad problem to have. Oman is a beautiful country with interesting tourist sights, and surprises around every corner. I will enjoy the peace and quiet this desert country has to offer while it is here, and know that I came out at the right time when the weather is perfect. Someday the tourists will come, but until then I will just hang out with the goats, and stroll the beach that is all mine.

Thanks, until next time.

Wadi Shab – Tiwi, Oman

The term, wadi, is thrown around a lot in the Middle East, and it does not take long to figure out that it just means canyon. There are thousands of wadis all over the Middle East, and if you find the better ones, you will discover an amazing hike that will take you to some really cool places. One of the better ones, called Wadi Shab, is located outside of the small town of Tiwi in Oman.

It is located right off of the highway, and there are plenty of signs that will point you the right direction. The hike is absolutely beautiful, and there are dramatic views of mountains on either side of the path, but this is not the reason to make it out this way.

A river helped to carve out this valley, and as you hike through the canyon, it is always on either side of you. Sometimes it is nothing more than a stream; whereas at other points along the way, you will find that you can jump off cliff faces into deep pools, or just go out wading into the cool water that is so refreshing on a hot, desert day.

At the very end of the canyon, you do have to take off your hiking boots, and dip in the water if you wish to make it the whole way. There is a cave at the end that boasts about an underground waterfall, and this is the final destination of many of the people who make it out this way. It is an amazing sight, but it is also fun to swim in the water, and let the tiny fish pick off the dead skin from your legs. If you do make it out this far, I would recommend that you bring with you some water shoes because there are a lot of rocks that you will walk on, and bring a snack as well because it takes a good hour to make it out to this pond. You will also probably spend an hour or two at the pond itself, so the whole day will take about four hours total.

I also recommend getting there early in the day. It is a couple hours drive from Muscat, but less than an hour from Sur, and it is a great day trip if you find yourself in the later town. You also can’t just start hiking on the trail. You have to take a short, and I do mean short, boat ride from the welcoming center to the start of the hike. It does cost one Omani Rial per person, and they do stop running the boat around five or six at night. That means if you do not make it back in time, you could be stuck in the wadi during the night. Some people do come out to camp here, but you would want to plan for that and not be surprised about that choice when you find yourself on the wrong side of the river at the wrong time.

It is a great place out of many to visit while in Oman, and should be added to everybody’s itinerary. It is a great way to spend a day out in the desert, and the sights and adventures had along the way will not be quickly forgotten.