Authentic Travel: Using a guide in Oman

I [Felicia]  love a road trip. A scenic car journey has featured in some of my favourite holidays – crossing the Garden Route in South Africa, meandering through National Parks in Utah or exploring the mountains and winelands in Tuscany. But on my recent trip to Oman, I discovered the true value of hiring a driver-guide for a similar adventure.
Oman has fantastic smooth and open roads, good vehicles, cheap fuel and wondrous scenery worth clocking up the kilometres for. It seems prime for a self-drive adventure and Odyssey World can coordinate your rental car for such adventures.  However, for this particular destination, I think the unspoken advantages of having a local driver outweigh the freedom factor for a trip around the interior of Oman. Here are a few of the reasons why:

Crossing the border can be simple when you know how

VIP Border Crossing

If driving from Dubai to Musandam, you’ll cross the UAE / Oman border. A simple, safe and non-threatening building is ahead of you. All calm on the outside…..and noise, queues and chaos once inside! Poorly signposted, large crowds and government staff trying to create a queue maze and directing a lot of noisy tourists and locals. With great relief, I realised my guide seemed to know everyone working at the facility. He spoke to someone in Arabic, calmly took my passport and proof of visa, suggested I relax in the sun outside and disappeared. 4 minutes later, he was back, docs in hand and we were on our way. On a busy weekend, I think this saved me about an hour of waiting around. Let’s hit the road!

Find the secret spots

Inside knowledge gives you unseen views

After driving through the pretty date plantations in the village of Birkat Al-Mawz and learning about how this oasis community grew, we rounded a corner, threw the Toyota into 4-wheel drive and headed up a steep, skinny, probably private track to a little precipice high above the village. There’s no way I would have known or attempted the diversion, but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the birds eye panoramic view I was treated to.

It can be a bumpy ride!

The highways and infrastructure throughout Oman are world-class.Smooth, wide, safe, you will marvel at the engineering that carved these highways over and through hills and mountains. And then the highway stops and the real fun starts. These aren’t just gravel roads, these are crazy steep tracks with boulders and ditches, no markings and some big sheer drops off the side. Your driver will be familiar with his 4×4 vehicle and every bump and groove, expertly navigating every obstacle, so you can safely sit back and bounce along while enjoying the spectacular views.

The bumpy ride is completely worth it…

They’ll also safely transport you to the top of the highest sand-dune, through city traffic and through narrow village streets without the need for a GPS, knowing all about the latest diversions, new roads, missing signposts and anything else that could cause frustration along the way. Maximum time for relaxation and enjoyment!

For the amazing views from the top!

Your local Omani guide will know EVERYONE!

Your guide knows everyone!

With a relatively low ex-pat work force in an already small population (comparative to other Gulf States), there are only around 2.5 million Omanis living throughout the Sultanate and they all seem to know each other!  Your guide will stop and chat at gas stations, in the souq, walking through town, on top of a sand-dune. Although they may switch between Arabic and English, it’s a nice feeling – they’ll introduce you, ask how your trip’s going, and be a constant source of advice and hospitality. Furthermore, your guide will be able to offer a more authentic shopping experience in the less touristy souqs, explaining the local foods, gathering samples, finding the best (and cheapest) place to buy Saffron, or dates, or anything else you want to discover during your travels.

Understanding the distances and timing – gets you to the sunset in time

Get to those sunsets on time!

On a typical 7-day driving itinerary in Oman, you could cover 2000km exploring between the Al Hajar mountains, Wahiba Sands and Salalah. There’s a lot to see and every day can be busy. Because of the constant change in terrain, it’s difficult to predict driving times. But if you want to be sure to get to your next resting place in time for sundown and a swim in the pool, your driver will know exactly what time to leave in the morning, when and where to stop for lunch and how to deliver you somewhere like this for resplendent views and magical moments.

 

Buy local! Local guides use their trusted stores.

Supporting local business

Odyssey World has been creating tours to Oman since the mid 1980’s. We are truly one of the UK experts in authentic Oman travel. For this reason, we use just one award-winning Omani ground agent who provides consistently excellent Omani national guides. Tourism in Oman has grown at a steady and manageable pace to date, under the wise leadership of Sultan Qaboos. The next stage is unknown, but we will continue to support local businesses wherever possible to keep the natural flavour of Oman in every tailor-made tour we deliver.

Cultural Exchange

It’s easy to put on your favourite music and have the same arguments with your family in the privacy of your own car, but making conversation on long journeys with a guide who speaks English as a second language and grown up with very different customs and beliefs, is an experience in itself. A tour with a local guide epitomises the ‘authentic travel’ mantra we love to promote. Apart from expanding on the knowledge and history of the area, it’s so enlightening to discuss diverse lifestyles and tradition from a wholly different perspective.   Odyssey World uses local Omani guides for all Muscat and surrounding area tours, so you can be sure to enjoy some awareness-expanding mind-opening discoveries when spending time with a local host.

Getting to really know another culture. Priceless.

Book your tailor made tour to Oman with Odyssey World and you can avoid the research and forum-trawling. We use reliable, friendly, trusted, licensed local guides with expert knowledge of every region and a shared passion to help you enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of the Pearl of Arabia.

About the Author

By Felicia / Administrator, bbp_participant

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on Dec 30, 2019