Nizwa market is one of Oman’s oldest market places. Anything you could possibly need, you can buy here.
The most important social event of the week is the popular Friday market.
The market plays a pivotal role in the economy of the area.
Some serious deals will go down here today.
Right now the livestock auction is about to take place. Buyers congregate to examine the animals on offer while the owners of the goats lead them around, showing off their wares.
There is a sense of anticipation building.
Now the action is heating up
The marketplace begins to get loud and there is a great deal of activity.
The auction is in full swing.
Omanis’ smiles are always genuine.
Finally, the auction is over and old friends gather to chat.
Now it is time to pick up your goat and head home.
Children happily participate in market day. It is never too early for young Omani to learn the tricks of the trade and bargaining skills from their elders.
If you walk just a little further and turn another corner, you will find a gun market. Actually, they sell many types of weapons here. This man has bought a rather impressive sword that he is brandishing in front of his friends.
Perhaps you seek an ancient hunting rifle?
Or perhaps a more modern one? The rules on carrying weapons are lax in Oman, nonetheless, I never felt nervous around these cheerful gun toters.
Scooters are the most popular form of transport. The contrast between the old and new worlds taps you on the shoulder as you watch people on scooters zipping through the narrow streets of the old city.
For me, the heart of a country is not found in its big, bustling cities, but rather in its tranquil rural areas.
This is Misfat al Abreyeen, a little picturesque village nestled in the mountains near Nizwa.
If you wish to have a truly authentic experience, allow me to recommend one of my favourite places, a traditional Omani guest house. It is simply called, “Old House” and is run by the owner who was born and grew up here.
Misfat Al Abreyeen is a marvellous maze of ancient streets and jewel bedecked doorways.
The town’s wells remain the main source of water for the people of the village. Carrying her water jug, this woman makes her way to the well to get water for her home.
The traditional robe worn by Omani men is called a dishdasha. It’s an ankle length garment that is most commonly found in a dazzling white colour.
An Omani village in the mountains. Traditional earth houses are encircled by fields of bushy date palms.
Oman has the highest mountains in the region with well-marked walking trails. Hiking is a popular pastime amongst visitors and locals.
Once you reach the summit, you are rewarded with a spectacular view. You can feel the grandeur of nature with every fibre of your being.
The highest peak in Oman is Jebel Shams. From up here the views are breath taking.
How we wished we could remain here forever, frozen amongst this endless beauty. And now i am being poetic... Oman does that to you
Mother Nature should always be taken seriously, and the Omani mountain terrain is not a place to forget this adage. Hiking these mountains is physically challenging and the weather can turn on you in a heartbeat.
Within minutes, rain clouds formed in the previously clear blue skies. In an instant, thick, heavy clouds burst and the world around us turned to water.
Soaked, we ran for cover and didn’t stop until we found ourselves under the only tree on the mountainside, seeking shelter in the midst of a full blown thunderstorm.
I have no photos of what happened next. My protests that I be allowed to continue taking pictures was met with the common sense and concern of my friends. In the end they won and I was forced to put away my equipment and run along with them.
I can tell you that what followed was not pretty. The rains felt like they would never end. There were episodes of hail. The ground around us flooded and flowed like a river. A chill soaked through our clothes and settled in our bones making us shiver uncontrollably. Some of us experienced hypothermia.
We were forced to spend the night huddled on the mountain. A descent in the dark and pouring rain would have been too dangerous. But, no matter how bad it got, the lesson from nature had been thrilling and we all agreed to return to this exhilarating location.
Descending the mountain in the morning, we witnessed the aftermath of landslides caused by the heavy rain. All around the roads were covered with rocks, stones and debris.
Safely back in town, the sense of foreboding we felt in the midst of the storm subsided when we saw the genuine smiles of the Omanis as they traversed the flooded streets. Indeed, the happiness on their faces made the high water levels feel like a blessing.
If you visit Oman, be sure to include a visit to Jabal al Akhdar, or the Green Mountain. This fragrant place is renowned for its abundant rose farms.
The harvesting of roses takes place in mid-April, and it is a job reserved for men.
Delicate rose petals are plucked from the bushes into the hats of the pickers. Once filled, the petals are tipped into a larger communal basket that sits off at a distance. These traditional hats, called kuma, are themselves a beautiful work of art.
The delicious aroma drifting out of this basket of rose petals could be smelt from many meters away.
The delicate rose petals are used to create rose water. The secrets of this art are passed on from generation to generation.
Here is where the magic happens. This traditional stove is heated to a specific temperature and the petals are then transferred into specially crafted bowls. Water is poured over the top of the bowls forming a steam, thus extracting the essential oils from the roses.
Framed by the doorway, these beautiful children try to catch a glimpse of the rose petal ritual.
A stone’s throw from the rose farm we stumbled upon an abandoned village at the end of a mountain trail in Wadi al Habib.
The smell of smoke permeated the inside of this abandoned home. The smoky aroma emanated from a fireplace which must have been used to warm the family living here no less than a couple of years before.
The old fortified city of Sulaif provided the perfect frame for this stoic shot of our guide.
As this trip draws to a close, I am struck by the plethora of experiences Oman offers an intrepid traveller.
Crisscross spectacular mountains and delve into an endless fountain of incredible stories in the cities and villages. And of course, let’s not forget the dramatic coastline! But that will be saved for another tale.