I’ve been nominated by some fellow bloggers, Tony and Margie with Back Roads and Other Stories as well as Jyothi with Travel Explore Enjoy, to post one favorite travel picture a day for ten days without explanation, then to nominate someone else to participate. That’s 10 days, 10 travel pictures, and 10 nominations. It is my understanding that the idea behind the challenge is to expose audiences to new bloggers and vice versa. I’m always up for helping fellow bloggers, so I have accepted the challenge.
That said, my rule following self is going to follow Tony and Margie’s lead and break a handful of them. First, while a picture paints a 1,000 words, I’m incapable of posting a photo without some explanation. Sometimes the story makes the image that much more special. Second, though not specified, I think the intent is to post 10 days in a row. I’ll be lucky if I post 10 weeks in a row.
A few years ago, my friend Ann gave me the book Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die for my birthday. As hiking is one of my favorite hobbies, it was a perfect gift. Upon sifting through it, I stumbled upon a seven-day hiking trip through the Al Hajar and the Eastern Hajar mountains in Oman.
I didn’t know anything about Oman and had to look at a map to see exactly where it was located in the Middle East. For some reason, reading about one of Oman’s famous treks, the Balcony Route, stuck with me. I stored Oman in the back of my mind until one day my friend Page said she wanted to go there.
Knowing she is not an avid hiker, I wondered why she was so interested in visiting. One thing led to another, and suddenly we had a tour booked to Oman with a few other friends. While we didn’t take the seven-day trek, we took another tour with the same company, KE Adventure, that accommodated different skill levels.
As our trip to Oman approached, all of us met people who had visited the country and absolutely loved it. They couldn’t say enough good things about Oman, thus my initial hesitancy of the unknown, quickly turned into excited anticipation. It has been almost a year since I visited Oman. Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. Other times it feels like a lifetime ago. Regardless, wonderful memories remain.
Muscat, Nizwa, the Arabian Desert, and the Grand Canyon of Oman
On our vacation, we visited spectacular structures in Muscat, including the Grand Mosque with the largest one-piece Persian carpet in the world and the second largest chandelier. Unlike sprawling Muscat, Nizwa takes visitors back in time. The markets, the goat auction, and Fort Nizwa are all fascinating places to see.
Of course, we hiked the famous Balcony Route which passes along the side of a cliff in Oman’s grand canyon. Trekkers pass an abandoned rock village built into the cliff on the way to an emerald pond tucked into a corner above the trail. While I loved the hike, believe it or not the highlight of our trip to me were the wadis.
The Wadis of Oman
The wadis of Oman are magnificent canyons whose scenery is breath taking. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. While I’ve hiked some canyons in Arizona and canyons in Utah, trekking these canyons were different and a new experience for me. I could not understand why our guide suggested leaving our cameras and backpacks behind. As much as I like to photograph nature, leaving my camera behind was hardly on my list of things to do in a country I had never seen.
Upon visiting the wadis, however, I promptly realized why he advised as such. We scaled walls, waded and swam through pools of aqua water, squeezed through crevices, and jumped off water falls all while admiring the awe-inspiring scenery.
Fortunately, I had the new waterproof iPhone. Not entirely confident it would survive a full drop into the cold water, I reluctantly handed it to the extremely capable Sami who literally swam with one hand over his head as we explored the canyon. Luckily, he was good at snapping photos of us, and occasionally I took the phone from him to capture scenes like this. Sami calls Wadi Bani Khalid heaven on earth. He might be right!
Not only was the beauty of Oman remarkable, so were the people. In fact, some of the friendliest human beings I have ever met were from Jordan and Oman. I highly recommend visiting both of these Middle Eastern countries, especially now that the political unrest in surrounding countries is subsiding due to the deals brokered by President Trump for which he received two Nobel Peace nominations. It seems like that region might stabilize as the USA has fallen to pieces. Hopefully, we’ll find some unity soon.
In the meantime, I nominate eMORFES who has been a long-time follower of mine. “eMORFES is a photo blog focused on the unique things of the world. Its articles explore a number of different subjects such as art, oddities, architecture and travel.” I really like seeing some of the cool photos of the natural world on this site. Check it out! ETB
Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop. Each card has a travel story associated with it. 20% of proceeds are donated to charity.