Tag Archives: Muscat

Where a train takes you to the Caves!

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Estimated to be over 2 million years old, the Al Hoota Cave is one of Oman’s most popular natural tourist attractions. Located off route 21 between Nizwa and Bahla at the foot of Oman’s epic mountain Jabal Shams, just 2 hours drive from Muscat, it is the first and only cave in the Arabian Peninsula which is open to visitors. With a total length of around 4.5 kilometres, around 500 metres of the cave is accessible to the general public.

The one hour guided tour starts from the Visitor’s Centre with a short ride in an electric train that carries passengers up to the cave entrance. Once inside the cave, it’s a feast for the eyes as you walk on the pathway and witness an enormous subterranean cavern filled with stalactites, stalagmites and colourful solid rock columns. Don’t miss the popular lion’s head, the cat, the old man and countless other intriguing shapes and an 800m long underground lake that is home to the rare blind fish – Garra Barreimiae and many other animal species like bats, arthropods, mollusks, spiders, snails and water beetles.

More on OMAN: The jewel of Arabia gets a stylish new gateway

While the Al Hoota Cave is made of stone, it was created by water. Like many other caves in Oman, the Al Hoota Cave system was formed by the dissolution of limestone by acidic water. When rainwater dissolves carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or soil, it produces a dilute carbonic acid that dissolves the limestone as it runs over it, thus forming the cave. Every 100 years, the water dissolves through 10mm of rock – so it takes a long time to create something as spectacular as the Al Hoota Cave! Fascinating features such as stalagmites, stalactites and of course the magnificent lion of the cave are formed by mineral deposits as water drips into or moves through the cave system. Some of the columns and curtains you will see in the cave have been shaped over millions of years.

Post the tour; also visit the geological exhibition for an interesting insight into the geology of Oman and an in-depth study on how these caves were formed. Owing to its delicate ecosystem, a maximum of only 750 people are allowed to visit the caves on a day, hence it is ideal to do prior booking. The cave is open to visitors every Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm.

Love turtles? Read: Go for turtle watching in OMAN

You could combine your trip with a visit to Nizwa to experience the magnificent Fort and Friday market or see the traditional architecture of Al Hamra and the beautiful atmosphere of Misfit al Abryeen. You could stroll through Wadi Tanuf or do the rim walk at Jebel Shams before lunch at Al Hoota followed by an afternoon visit to the cave.

Love caves? Read: Myth and mystery of the cave 90 feet deep

Have you ever been to Al Hoota cave? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.

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The Jewel of Arabia gets a stylish new gateway

The first phase of Oman’s brand new Muscat International Airport is currently operational and has increased passenger capacity to 20 million- up from the previous 12 million passengers recorded in 2017. The state-of- the-art airport has been designed to be the shining symbol of the Sultanate of Oman. The new airport is designed as ICAO category 4F airports which will be able to accommodate the world`s largest aircraft, Airbus A380 and the runway will enable independent parallel operations. The passenger terminals built with the latest technology are aligned with IATA Service Level A standards. The total gross area for the new Muscat International terminal building is 580,000 m2 with an overall airport land area of 21 km2. 

Salim Al-Mamari, Ministry of Tourism, Oman said “The government of Oman is focusing on Travel and Tourism as a part of its economic diversification strategy. The newly opened Muscat International Airport, brand new Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, revised visa rules along with other infrastructure developments seen in the recent times determine some of the efforts to increase tourism in Oman. India is one of the key markets for Oman and we are certain that this proactive initiative by the Ministry will drive a lot of visitors from India. Since 2014, Oman has witnessed over 23% growth in Indian arrivals. In 2016, Oman received 297,628 Indian arrivals as compared to 256,210 arrivals in 2014 that is over 16% growth within 2 years. In 2017, Oman received 321,161 Indian arrivals which is remarkably higher, showcasing growth of over 7.90 % in just one year.”

Oman’s new international airport has already welcomed over one million passengers, as it celebrated its first month of operations. The airport will undergo further upgrades in three consecutive phases which aims to boost the number to 24, 36 and 48 million passengers per annum. Presently, the Muscat International Airport is ranked among the top 10 airports in Middle East and has recently won the 2018 World Travel Awards as Middle East’s Leading New Tourism Development Project 2018.

For convenient travel, the new terminal’s departure hall allows guests to avail of three entrance gates that seamlessly flow to the 96 flight check-in facilities that are well located. First & Business class passengers flying with Oman Air will be assisted separately at 12 check-in counters and 3 supervisor counters, all of which personifies Oman’s magnificent hospitality. With an array of shopping and dining outlets, guests transiting through the new terminal will experience unrivaled service. The extravagant duty free is every shopper’s paradise with world-renowned brands and close to 100 outlets ranging from perfumes to jewellery, fashion and travel accessories along with a dedicated store for traditional handicrafts. Arrive re-energized at your destination with a comfortable stay at the 4-star hotel within the airport complex which houses 90 rooms, delectable food lounges and swimming pools.

Quick facts:

  • Muscat Passenger Terminal Building total area – 580,000 m2
  • Other Airport Buildings total area – more than 30,000 m2
  • ATC tower height – 97 meters
  • 96 check-in counters
  • 29 passenger boarding bridges
  • 30 aircraft remote stands
  • 5,500 bags per hour baggage processing capacity
  • Two parallel runways, capable to serve world`s largest aircraft A380
  • Airside hotel (90 rooms capacity for 12 MPPA)

So be there and experience the Jewel of Arabia in a new magnificent way. Till then, enjoy this beautiful video.

Go for Turtle Watching in Oman

Oman BeachTalking about Gulf is not always talking about deserts, dunes, oil and camel! There is lot more to Gulf, especially country like Oman. Did you know that thousands of sea turtles migrate annually from the shores of the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and Somalia to lay their eggs on Oman’s shores? The best time in fact to witness this beautiful phenomenon is now. July – October is the peak time for turtle watching in Oman as approximately 30,000 turtles or more lay estimated 50,000 – 60,000 eggs each year in Oman.

Oman TurtleOman has five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles: The Green Turtle, found on most Omani beaches & plentiful in Ras al Hadd, Ras al Jinz, Masirah Island & Daymaniyat Islands; the Loggerhead Turtle that nests on Masirah Island, the shores of Dhofar & Daymaniyat Islands; the Hawksbill Turtle that nests on the shores of Muscat and Daymaniyat Islands; the Olive Ridley Turtle that nests on Masirah Island; & the Leatherback Turtle which is found in Omani waters but does not nest in the Sultanate.

Oman SeaThe Ras AI Jinz Turtle Centre is an ecotourism project established in 2008 to help conserve the fascinating and amazing nesting processes of the turtles. Spread over 120 sq kms with a 45-km coastline, extending for one km into territorial waters, it is probably the most important turtle nesting concentration on the Indian Ocean. An average of 30,000 turtles nest on the beaches of Ras al Jinz. This is the only place where you can see turtles laying eggs and baby turtles taking their first tentative steps into the water.

Fact File

Oman EcotentsGuided Tours:
Early morning & night turtle viewing excursions are available

Best Time to Visit:
July – October

Where to Stay:
There are carapace rooms & eco-tents available – a total of 31 rooms, 17 air-conditioned twin/double en-suite rooms, 2 Air-conditioned bunk bedded en-suite for families / small groups, all equipped with toilets, mini refrigerator, tea-coffee maker & LCD TV. Luxury Eco-Tents on a hillock close by are equipped with attached toilets, mini refrigerator, tea-coffee makers and LCD TV. Turtle Visitor Center (Museum) is dedicated to the sea turtle’s life cycle & the archaeological findings at Ras Al Jinz.

Restaurant:
Sambuk, a 60-cover eatery, offers coffee shop-style ala carte menu and a set three-course dinner menu. Lunch/dinner at the restaurant is usually a set menu. Gift shop has a number of local handicraft items, pictures, postcards, books and Ras Al Jinz branded items