Conde Nast put Oman on their hot-list of destinations to watch in 2013. This made us curious and with luxury hotels like The Chedi it was an easy decision on where we would head next. We combined luxury with a little bit of a road adventure, desert nights, meals under the stars, dolphin watching, snorkeling and the incredible experience to see baby turtles hatch on the Arabian Peninsula.
Our journey started in Oman’s capital, Muscat, where we stayed at The Chedi. With its modern and stylish architecture it is not only a GHM hotel and featured on high end sites such as The Leading Hotels of the World and Mr & Mrs Smith but also won several awards which is not surprising – it is beautifully designed with stunning pools, manicured gardens, tranquil water features, a state of the art gym, gorgeous spa facilities and several fine dining restaurants.
The feature that it is most famous for is ‘The Long Pool’ and at 103 metres long, it is the longest pool in the Middle East to date. A fabulous place to relax and cool down – lined with palm trees, over-sized daybeds and nice chilling background music.
The Chedi offered a great variety of food with 6 restaurants to choose from. Our favourite became The Beach Restaurant which was set on the waterfront, overlooking the Gulf of Oman. This was a restaurant that we found to be a great choice not only for lunch but for dinner as well.
At night The Chedi turned into an Arabian fairy tale with countless candles and fires lit around the resort.
To discover the Omani coast with its rich sea-life we set out on a private yacht to cruise along the dramatic Omani coastline.
Where we spotted this great swarm of dolphins that we watched for some time.
After a light lunch on an empty beach, we headed to a beautiful bay to snorkel when I spotted objects that looked like jelly fish. Our guide assured us that they were harmless and even picked one of them up to convince me fully as I must have given him a very dubious look.
After about 3.5 hrs hours of driving and exploring, we finally reached our final destination, The Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve – its beach is a major nesting site for the endangered green turtle. It offers basic accommodation but its real focus is on informing and educating visitors about the life cycle and dangers of turtles as well as the preservation of their nesting grounds.
We felt extremely privileged to see female turtles return to the sea after having laid eggs as well seeing baby turtles hatch on our early morning excursion that was facilitated by the Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve. It is very strenuous and tiresome for the female turtles to come on to the beach, dig a hole, lay their eggs and to push themselves back into the sea.
The baby turtles hatch after about 55 days in order to embark on their most dangerous journey towards the sea. Sadly not every baby turtle survives the hungry birds, crabs and other animals that are waiting for them.
We enjoyed watching the sunrise over the ocean while witnessing the beautiful circle of life of these magnificent green giants of the marine world. I very much hope that many generations after us will still have the opportunity to see them in the wild rather than in books as an extinct species.
On our way to the next destination we passed the beautiful water pools of the Wadi Bani Khalid – a popular spot for locals who enjoy outdoor picnics and cool dips into the clear waters of the natural pools.
The cave is reachable through a stair case that has been built for that purpose. We did not dare to go in too far as we did not have a guide or the right gear with us (i.e. a good torch) but were able to hear the water fall inside the cave.
Back in the car we enjoyed watching the Omani’s way of transporting their camels.
Our last destination before we headed back to Muscat was the Desert Nights Camp, located within the golden dunes of the Wahiba Sands.
We stayed in one of their Bedouin style en suite tents with a little terrace, offering excellent views of the surrounding desert.
The camels belonging to the camp were real characters, I even got a little smile out of this one.
Whereas I am still wondering how I managed to upset his friend.
Before sunset we were driven up to the dunes in a 4×4 where we were able to admire the breathtakingly beautiful landscape of the Wahiba Sands.