Search

Memories from my diary

Trip to Khasab-Musandam/Oman

Here comes our memory of the road trip to Musandam-Khasab, Oman.

On Jan ’2014, one pleasant morning we started our road trip to Khasab from Dubai. It was one of our best and memorable trips in UAE.

There are lot of adventures and astonishment uniqueness in Musandam peninsula. It is one the must visit places in the region. Khasab is the main city and capital of Musandam province which is part of Oman and not in UAE. It is located in the Arabian Gulf next to Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), northern part of UAE.

There are two options to reach this place from Dubai; one is the road trip and second one is by boat trip (dhow cruise) by sea. Lot of tour operators are available to arrange these trips from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Road trip:

We took Emirates road (Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road) and the total distance from Dubai to Khasab is >200kms. Since it was a weekend there was not much traffic on Bin Zayed road. The speed limit is 120-140kmph. We could not find any restaurants throughout this stretch except few Petrol/Gas stations.

Weather was awesome, cool and equable weather throughout the drive. The drive after crossing the Omani border was great, as the road leads to breath-taking landscapes. We happened to pass through few villages after border crossing, where farm animals just wander on the road, we saw armed security guards on the way. It is recommended to use GPS navigator if you are not familiar with the routes. We lost the road and wasted 15-20 minutes due to road diversions in RAK.

Total distance from Dubai to Khasab: >200kms

Dubai to RAK: 110-120kms (1.30 hours)

RAK to Omani border: 40 kms (30-40 mins)

Border to Khasab: 45-50kms (45mins – 1 hour)

Total travel time: 3.30 hours (including the border crossing of 30 mins & on the way sightseeing activities)

Visa regulation, entry and exit at the border:

Once we cross RAK, there is an UAE border check post (Passport section) where we got the exit stamp and vehicle pass by paying AED 35. Since there was no queue we completed this process in 5 mins and approached towards the Omani border. We handed over this pass in the next check post.

There is no prior visa required for UAE residents (UAE visa holders). Tourists with UAE single entry visa are not permitted to cross the border.

After crossing the UAE border we stopped the car near the Oman entrance and took car insurance from Al Ahlia for 80 DHS since I did not have an Oman insurance. We submitted filled-in visa application form, paid 50 AED (per person) for the entry visa and got the entry visa stamped on our passports. It is wise to carry a pen, as these places remain deserted to even ask for help. It took almost 30-40 minutes to finish the visa stamping formalities.

Once we crossed the border it took 40 mins to reach to the top. On the way we stopped near a beach and clicked some photos and reached Khasab town by noon.

We took a half day package in Dhow cruise offered by Musandam Sea Adventures/tours. We couldn’t locate the harbour, so when we called the tour operator, they came to our location for assistance within 10 minutes. Finally we reached the harbour/pick up point at 1:30pm. There were only nine people on the boat.

The boat was clean with traditional carpets and comfortable cushions to sit. The helmsman and helper were very supportive and helpful. We were offered local tea/coffee, fruits and dates as compliments. There are other adventurous activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, banana boat ride and over-night camping in Khasab.IMG_2270IMG_2366IMG_2300

We were surprised to watch a pod of dolphins gliding and diving along our dhow boat very closely. They were all racing swiftly at the same pace, few performing high dives now and then. My three years old kid got excited seeing the dolphins in their habitat for the first time.IMG_2389IMG_2404IMG_2535

It was a pleasant experience with this service company and would recommend this tour operator for their service, as they waited patiently to spot dolphins and made our trip worthy.

Check my page for more photos – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzoWdvvQYw7CaXNXSFphRWpRVW8

Things to remember:

  1. Carry your passports
  2. Keep AED to pay at border crossing. Check the tour operator for current fee
  3. Pen to write the passport details at Oman border
  4. Oman car insurance if you are driving in a car
  5. Camera, battery, memory card, lens etc.
  6. GPS navigator or Road map till Khasab
  7. Fill fuel, however spotted few Shell petrol station/Oman oil on the way
  8. Jackets if you are traveling in Dec to Jan
  9. Be at right time so that tour operator can assist you better

 

Jan’14

Global Village – Dubai

Global village is the place for shopping, entertainment and food. Dubai tourism hosts this event every year during winter till the summer. This is our straight fourth year visit to global village.  Every time we walk-in, we find Global village much livelier, colourful and never ending fun than before. We reached at 6.30PM in evening and the weather was just right for a family outing. There is ample parking space around the area. An unexpected crowd was there on the day when we visited.

We can experience 75 different countries’ culture and authenticity at one place. There are 32 canopies representing different country with restaurants and retail shops. There are live performances to entertain people, thrilling rides for all age groups, international cuisines and authentic merchandise for shopping.

Each pavilion is designed representing different country. The colourful lights add beauty. Global village looks like a festive season in the weekend. I believe that, it is difficult to spectacle the complete area in one visit.

Shopping is unavoidable here, we would definitely fall prey to this vast and unique shopping world. Retail includes clothes, footwear, electronics, jewellery, spices, perfumes, bags, nuts, honey, food items, natural medicines and home decorations.

Live performances like skit-play, concerts and dance takes place in big stage located close to the entrance. Fireworks are organised on every Thursday and Friday at 9pm which adds much more gala.

Fantasy Island offers plenty of rides and skilled games for different age group. The cost of each ride varies from AED 12-80. Electronic rechargeable card is used for rides which can be brought and recharged at different ticket counters inside Fantasy Island.

Food includes different cuisine restaurants, street food, cafes, surprising bites, snack corners, desserts and beverages. Munch with something on hand and walk around this place is what we could see people doing here and it is the most justifiable thing to do in global village

Weekdays would be better option, if you want to have composed experience at Global village. Monday’s will be a family day. The schedule for this year is from 3rd November 2015 until 9th April 2016 and the timing is from 4.00PM to 12.00AM (check “globalvillage.ae” for latest updates). There is an entry fee of AED 15 per person.

Our little master had great fun, now he has grown up to understand the real fun in global village better than before. I love to visit global village often for it is getting bigger and better year on year.

Trip to Muscat, Oman – Part-7 / Sultan Qaboos Palace or Al Alam Palace

This palace is located close to the seashore within Muscat city and surrounded by forts. The travel to old Muscat along the corniche is truly amazing. The souq is located on the way to the palace. It has well-maintained lawn, pedestrian walk way and beautifully designed garden with flowers. The contemporary architectural design of the palace reminds us of Oman’s heritage and historic beauty.

IMG_7172

Unfortunately the palace isn’t open to the public; however there is no restriction to walk around the place. There is a huge gate in front of the palace.

There is plenty of parking space available adjacent to the palace. It seems that the palace is currently used only for official visit of the Sultan. There is a National museum located next to this palace.

IMG_7232

Trip to Muscat, Oman – Part-6 / Al Qurum National Park

The Qurum Natural Park is the largest park in Oman. We reached here by noon. There was no adequate car parking facility for the park; it took almost half an hour to get one lucky parking space. There was no fee for entry. The park has beautiful lawn and garden with attractive flowers.

IMG_7271

We noticed many family get-togethers and social gathering in the park. The park was crowded as it was public holiday. It has a separate play area for children with slides, swings, cable runways and sand play etc. However there was no proper maintenance carried out in the play area; especially few safety hazards like broken edges in the slides, missing ropes and broken steps in the climbing place etc should be renovated.

Free Wi-Fi is available.

The park has a lake for boating but not in operation. I assume this area of the park is ideal for walking and jogging. This seems to be one of the most picked day-out spots by localites.

Trip to Muscat, Oman – Part-5 / Pebble Beach

This beach is rightly another example for unbelievable beauty of Mother Nature. This beach is just few kms away from Bimmah sink hole when you drive towards Sur.

814

The entire stretch of beach is filled with just beautiful light coloured pebbles in different sizes and shapes. There is no sand in most part of this beach. This is one of the must visit beaches in Muscat. We could not take pictures since it was dark when we visited. There were few families enjoying barbecue on the beach side.

Trip to Muscat, Oman – Part-4 / Bimmah Sinkhole

(Continuation)…

Our next stop was Bimmah Sinkhole or Hawiyat Najm Park. It is one of the most famous and must visit places in Muscat.

It is located on the way to Sur from Muscat. The total distance from Muscat is 125km and the journey will take close to one and half hour. From Muscat when you drive towards Sur after 120th km you can see a signboard of ‘Dibab’ on the right hand side. Since we started from the dam it took an hour to reach this place.

We reached the sinkhole at 4pm in evening. There are plenty of open parking space is available in front of the gate.

There is a small park (not exactly a park!!). Park has kids play area with swings and slides, but mostly rusted and broken condition. The lawn inside the park could have been maintained better.

After walking about 100-150 meters inside the park we found a big deep hole below the ground. We were so excited when we saw the deep blue water. Steep concrete steps are provided to reach the water. It is difficult for kids and aged people to climb the stairs. The water was very cold and tasted salty similar to sea water. There were few people snorkeling on deeper side along the edge of the sinkhole. Kids were playing in the shallow water.  Concrete wall is built around the sinkhole for safety.

IMG_6990

We spectated few surprising stunts of diving from 20m high by people around. Natural free fish pedicure by little fishes in the rocky shallow water which nibble our feet.

We spent only 45 mins and returned back due to the huge crowd.

IMG_6982

The main drawback is no proper change room available near the sinkhole; however restroom was there inside the park (not well maintained).

This is one of the finest places for swimming and snorkeling!!!

Trip to Muscat, Oman – Part-3 / Wadi Al Arbaeen

(Continuation)…

After reading lot of reviews and recommendation about Wadi Al Arbaeen we decided to visit this place.  As part our day trip, first we visited this Wadi, next Mazara dam and we ended the trip in Bimmah.

Wadi Al Arbaeen is located between Muscat to Sur highway. On the way to Sur you can see a sign board on the right hand side “Wadi Al Arbaeen”, from here it takes 17-20km to reach the Wadi. First take a right turn from the highway and go straight for 2-3 kms. Road is good and well maintained till this point. When you go further you will find two road on the opposite side (right and left). Take a left turn and continue on the road past the first right turn, then take the next right after it (after about 250m). Keep driving on this road, don’t take the right turn that comes a bit later, you will eventually see a sign that points to Wadi Al Arbaeen to the left. Take left and keep going until you reach a village.

The drive was challenging. Road was unpaved, very narrow and slippery in few areas due to the gravel. On the way you can find unique hills with varied grey and orange color rocks.

We thought of going ahead for another 4 kms but there was some water stagnant and deep pits located on the way. We traveled in Honda Accord (2WD), so we could not go further and ended our trip at this point. We had lunch near a tree shade and clicked few pics. There is no shop or restaurant located in this place, so it’s better to bring food and plenty of water. There is no restroom in the wadi.

For our surprise there was not much water in the stream found near the village. Water was very dirty and people were cleaning the cars and tires. The weather was very hot and outside temperature was close to 35 deg C. Since it was a local holiday there were lot of people and cars parked around. We could not spent our time peacefully and decided return to Mazara. It’s better to avoid visiting this place during holiday or weekends.

There is nothing so impressive till this point. It is not recommended to go without 4WD to this Wadi.

Trip to Muscat, Oman – Part-2 / Mazara Dam

Mazara dam is one of the must see places in Oman around Muscat. The dam is referred by different names as Mazara dam, Wadi Dayqah dam and Quriyat dam. This is located on Muscat to Sur highway, approx. 120km from Muscat. When you drive towards Sur, after 80-90km you will find a brown sign board “Wadi Dayqat Dam”. Take a right at this point, drive another 20km and you will find the main entrance.

The total journey took around an hour. The information and sign boards are clearly available along the road to reach the dam. The roads are good and few parking is available on the top of the dam. There is no entry fee and parking fee.

The view of the dam from the top is amazing. There is a small park and a restaurant located at the top of the dam. We bought some soft drink, ice cream and biryani rice. Price is very nominal.

Since it was a holiday in Oman we could see people everywhere around park and it was too crowded. This is one of the frequent visit place for the locals and residents. We could not explore the complete area due to the crowd.

Trip to Muscat, Oman – Part-1 / Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

One of the must see places in Muscat. The mosque is very grand, beautiful and serene. The white color of the mosque speaks for its beauty, peace and purity. It is located within the Muscat city and easy to find the route in google map. Plenty of parking spaces available within the place.

The mosque is surrounded by garden and tress which gives freshness and eternal feel when you enter. The huge prayer hall entrance door with classic wood work adds to our amaze.IMG_7028The main prayer hall walls were decorated with art work .The main hall is lightened by Swarovski crystal chandeliers which were glittering like gold.IMG_7059 (2)IMG_7056IMG_7131The carpet in the main prayer hall is the second largest in the world. There are five minarets surrounding the mosque and the main minaret is 90 meters height.

For visitors the timing is from 8.30 am to 11 am from Saturday to Thursday and closed on Friday (Ramadan might be different).

Dress code:

Abbaya is not mandatory for female. Any dress covering full legs and hands till wrist is allowed. Head need to be covered using scarf or veil (Hijab). Jean with loose full hand shirt or long cardigan, salwar kameez with dupatta, long Skirts are allowed.

For male – full length trouser or jean with shirt or T-shirt is allowed.

There is a shop inside the mosque which sells veils for 5 OMR and rents abbayas for 2.5 Riyal. It takes minimum 1 hour to glance around the mosque. Food is not allowed inside the mosque. Weather was hot and the temperature was around 32-35 deg C.

Date: 3rd Dec ’15

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑