Where On Earth? Week 23: Oman

Well done to moody75 for the winning answer of Oman. To be precise it’s standing at the top of the Jebel Shams mountain range loooking into the Wadi Ghul canyon. Wadi Ghul rivals Peru’s Colca Canyon and is about as unknown.

It looks incredibly isolated but when you get out of your 4WD you’re soon surrounded by local kids eager to sell you rustic woven rugs.

Points off to neil_metblogs for asking why Tiger Woods is wearing a robe? I really thought the good people of Melbourne knew their sports stars better than that.

Name That Hat: Oman


Thanks to all who posted answers for the inaugural Name That Hat. The winner was Moody75 who correctly guessed Oman. The name of the hat is a kumma, not “Steve” as the oddly named oddsocks opined. This one was bought at the main souk on the Muscat Corniche.

A couple of readers guessed Nigeria and Tanzania, and it’s true you’ll find similar head gear throughout other parts of Muslim Africa. Tanzania is a particularly good guess because Zanzibar was an East African destination for many of the Arab traders from Oman.

The name of the town where dhows (right) are built is Sur, and the world’s grandest canyon after the Grand Canyon is the magnificent Wadi Ghul.

What Makes a Good Travel Guide?

On October 4 the excellent British travel magazine Wanderlust will announce the winner of their annual guide awards. Named after the late Paul Morrison, one of the founders of Wanderlust, the awards recognise excellence in travel guiding. Bill Bryson and Michael Palin will select the winner from a short list of six tour guides that work in countries as diverse as Mongolia, Egypt and Romania.

In your opinion what are the qualities a great guide must possess?

In my recent trip to Oman, the wonderful Hilal came close to perfection with a winning combination of humour, energy and a profound love of his country. His skill at juggling an MP3 player and a cellphone while threading a 4WD through the maze of Omani dunes was also pretty impressive.

Undiscovered Oman

It is a wonderful moment in time when undiscovered locales register their first blip on your travel radar. 

This happened to me this morning when opening the LA Times and running across this sentence; “Oman is a peaceful wonderland of dramatic gorges, sweeping deserts and hidden villages, dotted with fairy-tale forts and castles.”  Many thanks to Tony Wheeler, of Lonely Planet fame, who has penned this short article introducing us to the little-known nation of Oman. 

Pinched between Saudi Arabia and Yemen–two places most tourists aren’t too interested in these days–Oman is a rare gem in an otherwise troubled area.  Travelers who venture here can enjoy the country’s fine coastline, and with the help of a 4-wheel drive vehicle, tool around a slew of impressive mountain ranges and vast gorges that include Wadi Ghul, Oman’s very own Grand Canyon. 

One of the more interesting sites Wheeler points out is the shipyard in Sur where traditional sailing dhows are still being built.  This ancient practice, coupled with many villages untouched by modern times, makes Oman yet another place to rush off and visit before its all swept quickly into the 21st century.