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Nature and Wildlife

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Marine Turtles in Oman

Oman is a geographical hot spot for sea turtles. Five of the seven different species flock to the sun kissed beaches every year, though rather than to sip cocktails and read a good book while topping up their tan, they arrive here to lay their eggs. This is a very delicate and dangerous process, with the eggs at risk of the wild life and not hatching until around 55 day's time. Once out and about the baby turtles then have to make the strenuous journey from the beach to the waters, where they'll finally be safe. This is why turtle nesting areas are so well protected and remain undisturbed havens.

So, where can you spot a sea turtle in Oman? Well, this depends on which of the turtles you're hoping to see. The Loggerhead is one of the most common to the area, and resides around Masirah Island, the shores of Dhofar and the Ad Daymaniyat Islands. Green turtles are also common, and are popular guests at the Ras Altladd, Masirah Island, Ras Al Jinz, and Ad Daymaniyat islands.

 

Olive Ridley turtles also nest on the Masirah Islands, and the Hawksbill turtle takes to Muscat shores and the Ad Daymaniyat Islands. The leatherback turtles stick to the waters, though you may still spot some if you choose to go scuba diving. The best time to go turtle watching is in the evenings, and between the months of June and September. If this is something you're especially interested in about the destination, then there are resorts focused on this activity, such as the Turtle Beach Resort in the Ras Al Hadd area.

 

Time spent at one of the nesting beaches is a great experience, and provides you with a day of relaxation amongst beautiful nature that maintains an ambience of seclusion and privacy. Just remember to be respectful of the surroundings and heavy shelled company! 

 

Birds in Oman 

Between the seasonal changes of summer towards winter many flocks of birds make their journeys from nesting habitats to find somewhere new to stay.

 

Some even travel as far as from Northern Siberia, like the Water Fowl. Keen bird watchers will find that the skies are never a dull sight, with many varieties of species taking to different regions of Oman. In particular the island of Masirah, Al Wusta's beaches, springs, lagoons, and Al Hikman region are popular for birding and realxing.

Islands of Dimaniyat and exotic wildlife Musandam are where many of the birds live. 

 

Dolphins and Whales 

One of Oman's most exciting attractions is its marine life, with 21 species of dolphins and whales roaming parts of the surrounding topaz waters. The most common to see are the spinner dolphin and the bottlenose in particular. Due to them visiting the shores in large numbers you're in with a chance of seeing up to hundreds of dolphins at a time. 

 

Whale sightings are less common, though October through to May is the best time to see some, while dolphins tend to be visible all year round. Muscat along with the exotic Musandam Peninsula are the prime spots for dolphin/whale watching. Many companies around Oman provide day tours to see dolphins and whales, while some hotels can also organise this for guests. It's an activity well worth doing, just to get a feel for the Omani nature and the liberating atmosphere of being out at sea.

 

It should be remembered that although this is a popular activity amongst tourists, the areas inhabited by wildlife are protected and well looked after by the Omani people, and should be respected also by visitors.

 

Mountains and Scenery

Oman is a destination of mostly undisturbed nature, with quiet coves and rugged mountains providing wild sanctuary. It is this isolation that entices mountain climbing enthusiasts, along with a variety of locations conducive to the sport (just remember to double check the difficulty level of each area, to suit your level of skill). 

 

Al Jabal Al Akhdar 

This reaches an impressive height of 2,980 metres, which gives you some idea of the awe inspiring views you could catch from here. It is about two hours drive from Muscat and has a Mediterranean climate throughout most of the year, except in winter when temperatures can drop quite dramatically, with even some snow occasionally. The area is extremely beautiful and peaceful, producing lots of tropical fruits such as pomegranates. It is most famous for its wide plateau close to the summit. You also have the chance to explore some traditional Omani villages that are spread across the mountain. 

 

Khawr Najd 

This is one of the largest lagoons in the Governorate of Musandam. It was once a place that travellers and traders would use to seek refuge during bad weather conditions at sea, hence the derivation of the name to mean 'help' in Arabic. It can be reached either by sea vessels from Khasab or by a drive along a mountain road, which is far quicker and more scenic. 

 

Jabal Shams (Also known as Sun Mountain) 

At a grand altitude of 3,004 metres above sea level, Jabal Shams holds the title of the highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula. It has a number of slopes and summits, so makes for an interesting climb. On a summit close to the peak is 'An Nakhr Balcony', which is host to some of the most incredible views. Guesthouses have also been built so that tourists can relax and take in the beautiful views of the ravine. 

 

Wadi Damm 

This is located near to Al Ayn Village, Wilayat Ibri, within Al Dhahirah Governorate. The climate is dry most of the year and depends on the rains that gather in its water ponds, creating an intriguing and distinctive feature to the landscape. The main characteristic of Wadi Damm is its rocky formations. One of these is a small cave near to a water pool, which makes the perfect spot for camping. 

 

Samhan Mountain 

This is one of the most important mountain ranges in the Governorate of Dhofar. It has a maximum height of 2,100 metres and includes plateaus that are punctuated by narrow and deep gorges, some of which reach 1000 metres deep. 

 

Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain) 

This reaches a height of 2,980 metres and is famous for having a wide plateau close to the summit. Getting here from Muscat takes about two hours, but it's a scenic drive. The climate has a Mediterranean feel, though temperatures drop dramatically in the winter and it can even snow. The land itself is bountiful, producing lots of fruits, with the pomegranates in particular considered to be among the finest in the world. Exploring the mountain also provides the chance to become better acquainted with authentic Omani life, with many villages scattered about and little terraces dug by the villagers to grow crops. 

 

Majlis Al Jinn Cave (Salma Plateau) 

The Majlis Al Jinn Cave, also known as the Salma Plateau is one of the largest caves in the world. It is 58 thousand square metres, with a capacity of 4 million cubic metres, a length of 310 metres and width of 225 metres. Despite this enormity, it is still barely discernable from the outside. This is due to it being hidden away in a peaceful centre of brown hills close to the eastern Al Hajar Mountains. This represents the natural beauty of Oman, and somewhere so secluded from the rest of the world you'll feel like you're cut off from the rest of civilisation. 

 

Deserts

To get to the very heart of Oman, the desert is the place to visit. It embodies the traditions and authentic customs of the country, as well as enlightening a sense of freedom and adventure in those experiencing it. There's a number of way by which you can experience this landscape. You can take a day trip, and maybe indulge in a spot of 'dune bashing' in a 4x4, or even ride a camel. For those with more time on their hands, there's the option to camp overnight, Omani style, in a Bedouin tent. There are quite a few camping resorts, some more glamorous than others, but all offering a the opportunity to camp in amongst nature and vast sprawling dunes.

 

Omani desert locations are listed below:Bawshar sands This is not too far from the centre of Muscat, providing some glorious views over the city if you climb the hills. This is also a popular place for SUV 'sand duning'. The Empty Quarter This is the biggest desert in the Arabian Peninsula, with a mysterious ambience and much unexplored terrain. Due to the area's size, tours here usually have to be led by specialist companies with an extensive knowledge of the local geography. A'Sharqiyah Sands A'Sharqiyah Sands occupies 10 thousand square kilometres, and it caters for those interested in sand duning, or even camel racing. It is also considered one of the most beautiful camping areas in the Sultanate. Ramlat Tawq This is an area of beautiful sand dunes, extending expansively for tens of kilometres. It is situated in the Al Batinah South Governorate, and is popular with tourists due to its closeness to the capital, Muscat.

 

 

Oman National Parks

Despite being known for its sprawling Middle Eastern desert landscapes, Oman actually has plenty of vibrant greenery to offer.

The parks are usually free, and provide snacks and drinks from stalls. Quite a few of the main parks are close to Muscat; one of the most popular is Qurum National Park, which has been open since 1993 and is the largest park in the region. It is extremely picturesque, with a large boating lake and a fountain to relax beside.

 

Another of Oman's parks is the Al Naseem Public Park. This was actually the first park to be established in Oman, and is especially ideal if you have kids. It's facilitated with a children's park, library, football field, and volleyball and tennis courts. There's a small train that circles the park, and a there's even a Japanese garden Due to being located on a hilly landscape, Riyam Park overlooks some magnificent views of the sea and a nearby harbour. There's also a playground here, along with a fairground open on most afternoons.

 

Other notable parks include Kalbou Beach Park, Al Wadi Al Kabeer Park, Al A'merat Public Park, Quriyat Lake Park, and the park of A'seeb Beach, where water-sports can be played. Lastly, the Al Sahwa Park is a popular choice in winter, with gazebos and play areas for children. All in all, Oman's national parks provide a luscious environment to perhaps enjoy a picnic, read a book, or simply relax. They also provide a great day trip idea for families.

 

Plant Life

Due to Oman mostly having a dry and humid climate, particularly in the deserts of course, there is a lack of plant life in many areas. In regions such as Dhofar, however, where the climate is far more temperate and there are yearly monsoons, you'll find far more vibrant scenery of flowers, trees and various plants. These include the Frankincense tree, which provides the ingredients for perfume, which is an especially popular souvenir in Oman. These are a big part of not only Oman's nature but also of its identity and traditions, giving a fragrant and unique quality to the landscapes. There are also species of the Cordia flower, and Adenium. Acacia trees can be found in parts of the desert too.

 

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