Musandam in Oman – Norway of the Middle East
Musandam is a mountainous peninsula in Oman, projecting into the Strait of Hormuz, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its serrated coastline features fjord like inlets called ‘khors,’ and its waters are home to dolphins and other marine life. Dhow cruises are a popular activity. Khasab is the capital of the Musandam governorate.
The main thing that makes this area special is the collocation of sea and mountains. Excursions in boats and traditional ships will give the visitors unforgettable enjoyment. Musandam has something for everyone who visits there – let it be off road driving, scuba diving, swimming in the lagoons, dhow cruise, banana boat ride or exploring historical and archaeological sites.
Musandam, popularly known as the Norway of the Middle East, has a number of attractions that will make the tourists spellbound.
Jabal Hareem Fossils
Jabal Hareem Fossils are located at a height of 1,600 metres above sea level in Wilayt Khasab. The trip on the way up in the four-wheel drive pushing through mountainous villages, savannahs planted with wheat and green valleys is an adventure itself. The riders would want to pause on the journey to take in the enchanting views.
Khasab Castle was said to be constructed by the Portuguese in the seventeenth century; it is revamped by the Oman government. Parts of the old Castle are still visible through the circular tower that stands in the middle of the castle. The present castle has four strongholds.
Khor Najd is one of the largest lagoons in the Governorate of Musandam. It is told that, at times of distress, travellers and traders laid up there during bad weather conditions at sea.
Khor Najd can be reached either by traditional sea vessels (4 hours) from Khasab through the Strait of Hormuz or by four-wheel drives along a beautiful mountain road (30 minutes), overlooking panoramic views of the lagoon from a height of 420 metres, where the tourist can revel in mind blowing scenery of sea and mountain.
This lagoon is located in Wilayat Khasab in of Musandam. This lagoon covers 20 kilometres. Many villages overlook Khor Sham, which can be reached only by sea in traditional vessels. Khor Sham is considered a tourist destination for hiking, camping and watching dolphins.
In the middle of Khor Sham is a small island called Al Telegraph Island, as in 1860 it was used as a base to connect to the telegraph cable (which had been extended under water) to link Basra in Iraq to India
This is one of the oldest villages located at Khor Sham in Wilayt Khasab in Musandam .The stone houses at the bottom of the mountains appear to be part of the cliff itself, so it is hard for the visitor to make them out at first. It is told that the houses are thus built as camouflaging measure to hide from enemies. Al Qannah is accessible from the sea by boats that cross the region, and is a spectacular sight as it reflects the glow of the sun’s rays. Most of the villagers depend on fishing for their livelihood.
Things to do in Musandam:
Other than visiting the tourist sites, Musandam is a perfect place to kick back and relax. For the more adventurous, there is an Omani night club offering a variety of adult beverages but it is not for the faint hearted.
For the 4×4 enthusiast, there are beautiful mountain roads to drive that take you all the way up to 1800 m at Jebel Kiwi. The track has been done in a ‘wadih’ which is a dry river bed. One used to be able to cross to the other side but now there is a checkpoint stopping you after the summit.
There is the fish market in the evening – timing varies between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm- where you can see the daily catch and witness the sales happening it is quite a sight and you can see some big fish.
Different types of vessels are available to wade through the blue waters. Cruise boats, traditional dhows, banana boats etc., can be used to enjoy the water ride.
How to reach there:
The closest airport is Dubai International Airport. The easier means of transport from Dubai to Musandam is by road in a car within 2 hours 30 minutes’ drive.
The approximate distance from Dubai Clock Tower to Khasab is around 200 kms.
Since the road after the boarder of UAE is curve type intersections you have to drive safe in a speed of 40 to 50 km.
Cruise boats and traditional dhows are also available from Dubai to Musandam.
When to visit:
The best time to visit Musandam is from October to January when the water temperature drops to around 21 degrees in January till mid-March. It is also interesting to visit during the summer time even if the weather is very hot.