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Wadi Bani Khalid

Wilāyat Wādī Banī Khālid is a Wilāyah in the Northern Governorate of the Eastern Region of Oman. Located about 126 mi from Muscat, and 120 km from Sur, the province has a wadi which serves as a destination for tourists, that is Wādī Banī Khālid

Bidiyah, Oman

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon of Oman is in the village of Ghul, which is northwest of Al Hamra. It lies near Jebel Shams, which means Mountain of Sun, and is the highest mountain peak in the Hajar mountain range. It is referred to as the Omani Grand Canyon or the Grand Canyon of Arabia and is one of the most famous wadis (a dry riverbed) in Al Dakhliya Region, as well as one of the best natural attractions in the country. The canyon is around 1 km (0.62 mi) deep at some points.

Jabal Shams, Oman

Wakan Village

Wakan Village is situated about two-hour drive from Muscat and it is located 2000 ft above sea level, that the people in Wakan earn their living through farming, and that despite tourist intrusions, the locals there remain very welcoming and gracious. There is a saying among travelers that has become a cliché, “It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”

Much has been written about Wakan but experiencing it is totally different and one will discover more — things that online reviews and travel sites fail to mention. For instance, that prior to your car climbing the mountain roads, you will pass through roads that are well-developed. There are no light posts but reflectors serve as your friend while you drive. As you traverse the good roads, you will enter into this place fully surrounded by mountains and that if you look real close, you will notice that the mountains embrace the area — they surround it, they protect it.

If you visit it late afternoon, you will appreciate the setting sun because it will hide behind tall mountains and the layer of peaks will make you feel that you are somewhere else — a difference place, familiar yet still Oman.

After covering about 30 kms or so, just as when you are about to climb the mountain roads, you will see sleepy villages along the way. They will be set amidst green, magnificent date palms. At first you will wonder what they are doing there and you’d ask why people will choose to live in this so far-off place. It’s only after opening the car window down that you’ll gain understanding. The temperature in Muscat may rise to as high as 40 degrees but here, in this place protected by gargantuan peaks, the temperature is very tolerable — fact is, it’s really ideal.

Online travel stories and reviews will also not discuss in details that you have to prepare for the road. Although they mention that you have to use a four-wheel drive, they won’t prepare you with the reality that you will be passing through rough roads cut out from the side of the mountains. By the driver’s seat, you can see the deep plunge. You can see the picturesque wadis down below but reviews won’t mention that it is through rocky and dusty slopes you have to pass in order to get on top of the mountain where Wakan is nestled.

Barka, Oman

Ancient Falaj Systems

A falaj in Oman refers to water that runs through a channel dug in the earth. The source of falaj water is groundwater found in the subsoil or valleys. The plural of the word ‘falaj’ used in Oman is ‘aflaj’, which is a comprehensive term used to denote a system of irrigation. The falaj is an original Omani irrigation system, deep-rooted in the country’s land and history.

The Falaj Irrigation System relies on water stored underground. It is extracted in a simple manner without the use of machines, and is then used in agriculture and all other essential uses. The aflaj are divided into three main types:

Dawoodi Falaj:
These are long channels dug underground that run for several kilometres. Their depth usually reaches up to tens of metres, so water is present in these channels all year round. 
The most important of these falaj are: Falaj Al Khatmayn andFalaj Daris in A'Dhakiliyah governorate.These two appear on the World Heritage List.

Ghaili Falaj:
These falaj receive their water from ponds or running water. Their depths do not exceed 3-4 metres. Water quantities increase in these falaj directly after rainfall and usually dry up quickly during extended dry periods.

Ayni Falaj:
These falaj draw their water directly from the springs (wells), including hot springs. The importance of these falaj depends on their water quality, which varies between hot and cold, and between fresh drinking water, saline water, and between alkaline water mixed with valley water, considered suitable for agriculture. There is another kind of spring that contains varying proportions of mineral salts suitable for water treatments and therapies.
The most important of these falaj are: Falaj Ayn Al Kasfah in Wilayt Ar Rustaq, Falaj Al Hamam in Wilayt Bawshar .

Nizwa, Oman

Al Saleel Nature Park

The Park is located in wilayat AL Kamil W'al Wafi in Al Sharqiyah South Governorate, and lies 57 kilometres from wilayat of Sur. It extends over an area of 220 square kilometres, and is predominantly covered by forests of acacia trees. It is home to a number of rare species such as the Arabian gazelle, the Omani wild cat (“Al Senmar”) and other animals which have made this environment their home, including the red fox, the Egyptian Eagle and others.

Bidiyah, Oman

Wadi Bani Khalid

Located 203 kilometres (126 miles) from Muscat. Take the Bidbid – Sur Road in Al Sharquiyah South Governorate, which forks into a side road leading to wilayat Bani Khalid , then weaves up across the eastern AlHajar Mountains to Bida village deep in the mountains. There you can enjoy the spectacular views of the fertile valley with its spreading trees and abundant water that tumbles down as waterfalls in some areas to form natural pools of water. The road then cuts through the valley to reach Muqal town, well known for its cave. To explore this cave, you’ll have to exercise great caution as you may need to crawl or even scramble in some places. Here the gushing waters creates a loud rushing sound and collects in pools, only to dissipate and gather - once again – in small lakes which the villagers have used to fill three irrigation canals.

Bidiyah, Oman

Friday Cattle Market

Those keen on getting a feel of real Omani life and tradition, the best place to experience that is the Friday livestock souq in Nizwa. Every Friday the livestock souq comes alive and buzzes with activity. This souq plays an important role in the local economy and is also considered one of the most important and oldest traditional souq in Oman. Located between the walls of the famous Nizwa Castle, the souq witnesses cattle, mainly cows, oxen, sheep, goats and sometimes even camels, being bought and sold. The sellers gather at the place the previous night to occupy vantage places.

Residents from nearby areas and sometimes from distant places go to the souq very early in the morning in order to select the best cattle. The crowd begins to gather as early as 7 in the morning.
What is amazing is the way cattle are sold which has not changed for a long, long time. The place is in a circular shape and has a path around. Spectators and buyers sit in the middle of the place to watch the animals as they are paraded, much like a fashion show. The seller or his agent takes the animal to be sold all around.
After this round of display, the animal is put up for auctioning at an opening price fixed by the seller. The auctioneer goes around the crowd shouting their offer. Finally, the one who quotes the highest price gets the animal. The auctioneer of the animal gets a commission from the seller. This is a very traditional way of buying and selling cattle.
In addition, some sellers sell their animals from their trucks parked nearby. They too do brisk business as the place gets crowded with cars and trucks.

This souq particularly becomes important during Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha as people flock to the market to buy the sacrificial animal at that time. According to Jumma bin Said al Anqudi, an auctioneer in the souq, the prices of animals vary. Cows are worth between RO 100 and RO 400 and the sheep prices between RO 20 to RO 100. The souq, according to Al Anqudi, has been here for as long as 100 years and is still full of life every Friday.
Some people prefer to buy animals while they are still small as the prices of young ones are cheap. The animals then are taken care of and resold in festival times.

The livestock bought and sold mostly belong to locals. Sometimes, cattle as far as from Dhofar and the Batinah governorates are brought in by Bedouins. The livestock souq is not only a place for those who like to buy and sell cattle, it is a place that has preserved the heritage in its own way. The auction process is a unique and has remained so for a long time. Apart from the souq traditional works of costume, handicrafts and copper artefacts makers are part of the show and contribute to attracting tourists who shop for Omani traditional souvenir.

Nizwa, Oman