Ecotourism Bucket List: Oman

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Wadi Bani Khalid Oasis in Oman
Wadi Bani Khalid Oasis in Oman.

“This is truly a place where nature reminds you just how little you are in this big, incredible world.”
–Travel Writer Breanna Wilson in Forbes

With a mountainous desert landscape and a coastline along the Arabian Sea, the Sultanate of Oman has great opportunities for eco adventure travelers.

As the world weans itself off of oil, Middle Eastern countries like Oman are putting a stronger emphasis on tourism to fuel their economies. According to a story in The Telegraph, Oman plans to double the number of tourists visiting their nation from 2.5 to 5 million people by 2020.

Location of Oman. Image: Google Maps.
Image: Google Maps.

Oman is an absolute monarchy. The Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has ruled since 1970 and, according to Wikipedia, he’s the longest serving current ruler in the Middle East. Needless to say, culturally Oman is different from the U.S. and other democratic countries. For example, Sharia Law is upheld in the courts, particularly for family-law matters.

Middle Eastern Hospitality That Doesn’t Disappoint

But despite these cultural differences, Oman is considered one of the safest countries in the Middle East for western travelers. Commenters on Trip Advisor shared their Oman travel experiences, and the majority say the citizens of Oman go out of their way to be friendly and welcoming to visitors.

Perhaps it’s due to their desire to be perceived as a hospitable country, but Oman has made some positive cultural shifts in recent years, notably around the treatment of animals. An article in Wikipedia mentioned that travelers had complained of seeing animal abuse on the streets of Oman, particularly of stray dogs and cats.

But in 2017, the country passed an animal welfare law that stipulates that “owners and care takers of animals should take all precautions to ensure that no harm, injury, pain, or suffering is caused to the animals. The animals are defined as ‘all types of animals, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.’”

While we always have to be circumspect about any claims of improved animal welfare, Oman’s passing of this law and openness to visitors can only be seen as a positive.

Oman Wildlife

Arabian Leopard
Photo: Arabian Leopard. Wikimedia Commons.

Oman is home to a diverse array of indigenous animals, including leopards, hyenas, foxes, wolves, hares, oryxes, ibexes, vultures, eagles, falcons, and others. Here are some pics of Oman wildlife shared by fellow animal lovers on Instagram:

Oman Sunbird

Whale Shark

Arabian Chameleon

Arabian Oryx

Tourism Helps Wildlife Conservation in Oman

According to Vijay Handa, the general manager of the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve in Sur, Oman, the nation’s green turtle population has increased by 5%, which has been good for tourism.

“A lot of tourists actually land in Muscat and then directly go to Ras Al Jinz because they want to see the turtles.”

Here’s a video of the reserve shared by Ewa Negra:

In addition, Oman is becoming a destination for whale watching. In particular, the Arabian humpback whale is critically endangered. It’s the most isolated and the only non-migratory species of whale in the world.

Arabian Humpback Whale

Travel writer Breanna Wilson gushed about her recent trip to Oman with a friend in her article in Forbes – “Oman Is the Best Place to Travel in The Middle East Right Now.”

“Two girls traveling alone in a part of the world that most people are completely terrified of, and we couldn’t have been more excited. The trip was setting itself up to be an experience of a lifetime.”

Here are a few of the adventurous activities you can enjoy in Oman:

Hiking


Rock Climbing

Paragliding

Kayaking

Standup Paddle Boarding (SUP)

SCUBA Diving

Or, you can always go…

Motorcycling

If SUP seems a little too tame for you, check out adventurer Rosie Gabrielle’s Vlog about traveling in Oman by motorcycle:

Vegan Dining in Oman

With all that adventuring, you’ll undoubtedly need to eat. And, I know what you’re thinking: “I’m vegan, it’s the Middle East, I’ll starve…”

Not so! The Vegan Travel Blog has you covered. And while much of the vegan cuisine you’ll find in Oman is not “native,” it still looks pretty darn good and will make for a wonderful trip.

Vegan Dining in Oman
Photo: VeganTravel.com

 

Oman Travel Resources:

Trip Advisor’s List of the Best Eco Tours in Oman

Oman’s Ministry of Tourism

Breanna Wilson’s article in Forbes

Rosie Gabrielle’s Motorcycle Vlog

Practical details in Travel and Leisure

Fortune’s Article on Oman for Adventure Junkies

VeganTravel.com

Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube channels and follow all the folks on Instagram who were presented in this post!

Have fun!

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