For Musandam, Oman Air (omanair. com), which operates one daily flight between Muscat and Khasab, is your best option. I also flew business class from Delhi to Muscat (the airline operates direct flights to Oman’s capital from most major Indian cities), and it was a brilliant experience: cups of Omani coffee with dates, a delicious lunch—I chose grilled kingfish fillet for the main course— and splendid hospitality by the in-flight crew.
As for the places I visited along the countryside, driving distances from Muscat: Nizwa (160kms/ 1.5hrs) and Jabreen (185kms/ 1.75hrs). I recommended hiring a vehicle (a 4WD SUV coasts through the lovely Omani highways unlike anything else). Visit evisa.rop.gov.om for an e-visa. A short-term 10-day tourist visa costs approx. `900.
WHERE TO STAY
- KHASAB: Atana Musandam (May tariff from approx. `9,600, atanahotels.com) is spread across eight buildings with 110 rooms, I stayed in a spacious Superior King Rwoom with a balcony that overlooked a waterway. Their other property, the four-star Atana Khasab (May tariff from approx. `8,000), boasts a coastline view.
- DESERT EXPERIENCE: Sharqiya Sands, approx. 240kms south of Muscat, is a region known for its splendid dunes and the Thousand Nights Sharqiya Sands Camp (May tariff from approx. `13,200; thousandnightsoman.com) here boasts adequate luxury in tented or villa stays, two restaurants and plenty to do such as camel rides, quad biking, dune bashing, etc.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
- The Bedouin village of Sayh in Musandam gives a glimpse of how nomadic Arabs survived in a tough terrain.
- Wadi Tawi, near Khasab, has petroglyphs that showcase camels, sheep and other fascinating depictions made by early settlers.
- Wadi Bani Khalid (203kms from Muscat), a desert oasis, has plenty for a water-baby to do.
- Birkhat Khalidiya Park (Musandam) has unique avifauna, many acacia trees and interesting old stone houses.
- A visit to the 12th to 15th century Bahla Fort, Oman’s only Unesco-listed fort, is a must.