The breakfast in Safari Hotel was rich with eggs, sausages, fruit, etc.-more than we expected. Even though coffee was not instant Nescafe, it was still not as strong as what we had used to drink in Northern Europe.
After checking out, we drove to Nizwa Souq, about which we heard and read only good words. It was beautiful; the architecture is based on Omani and Islamic patterns, giving the visitor a glimpse of Oman’s traditional building skills. The Nizwa market provides an opportunity to look at the collections of traditional crafts such as gold, silver, and copper ornaments, wooden works, and other handicraft products.
We were a bit late at the souq (we arrived at about 10:30 AM), but the goat sale was already finished, and locals had already made their purchases. Only tourists walked around. But still, it was an excellent opportunity to try out my negotiation skills and buy souvenirs and silver. Beautiful silver rings were sold at one rial per gram; we bought some and some souvenirs. Knowing that you can pay with a credit card at Nizwa souq is interesting and valuable.
It was really hot at the souq, with no wind and plenty of sun. I believe it was close to 40 degrees Celsius. We bought some fruit and walked to Nizwa Fort, next to the market. The Nizwa fort is massive, 24 meters high, and speaks about the importance of Nizwa in Oman’s history.
Nizwa was the capital of Oman. The wilayat of Nizwa is the heart of the Dakhiliyah region. It is 170 km west of the capital, Muscat. Nizwa has a population of around 70000 people.
As our mobile phones stopped working after leaving the coast, we bought the local sim card for the Nawras network and prepaid 5 OMR. The seller said international text messages are cheap at 50 baisas, but calls to Estonia are 2 OMR per minute.
We have decided to explore Nizwa and go to Oman’s highest mountain, Jebel Shams, which is 3075 meters, and the name means Mountain of the Sun. We went there not to see the peaks but to read about Wadi Ghul, which lies alongside it and has spectacular views. Wadi Ghul is also known as the Grand Canyon of Arabia.
The canyon is about a 30-minute ride from Nizwa. Before that, there was another attraction — Al Hoota Cave, which we did not visit, as we had seen the stalactites and did not want to go into the dark.
We drove on the paved road to Ghul and made a sharp right turn to enter the canyon. To do that, 4WD is needed, as the driving is at the bottom of the wadi, and this graded track is rough. But this is worth doing, as the views are spectacular. Only one thing ruined the atmosphere. We stopped the car and went outside to enjoy what we saw fully. Suddenly, “children-the-sellers” appeared from nowhere and tried to sell rugs, bracelets, and keyrings by making quite a noise. Fortunately, another car of tourists came, and we were free to enjoy the views.
It was a scorching day, and there was almost no wind in the canyon, so we felt like we needed to swim and refresh. Of course, as it is common in Oman to be at the hotel pool area even if you are not a guest for a fee, we decided to use the option at Falaj Daris Hotel in Nizwa. The receptionist took 3 OMR per person, and we were free to use the pool as long as we wanted.
Falaj Daris is a beautiful hotel; it has two pools and, in addition, one pool for children, covered by shade, and also a playground. We had so much fun at the pool that we also decided to stay here at this hotel. Unfortunately, the receptionist told me that the hotel was fully booked for Thursday—in Arabia, Thursday has the same meaning as Saturday in the western world. But, he still gave us some hope, as some of the guests had not arrived yet. He promised to call them and let us know if they would not come within an hour. After 15 minutes, he found us and said we could check in. Even more, after a question, he also gave us a deduction from the hotel room price for the fee we paid for a pool.
We had dinner at the same place as last night – Arab World Restaurant – because the other restaurants around us did not look to have many guests, and we did not want to have dinner in a sleek hotel restaurant. After dinner, we sat at the pool bar to view daily photos and have a beer.
The trip continues to Jebel Akhdar.