The story is from me and my friend solo traveling from Muscat to Nizwa to see the famous goat market. The adventure took place in October 2016 with a fantastic girl – Lya, who I met on internet 2 years before the trip to Oman. Suddenly we decided to finally meet in Budapest to fly to Dubai and travel to Oman by aland border.
How to get from Muscat to Nizwa?
I flew to Budapest to meet Lya and take plane to Dubai. 😉 Thanks Lya, it was an unforgetable experience and fun to be there with you! 😉
Oman is one of the safest and most diverse countries I have visited. The capital of Oman – Muscat is really noisy, crowded and don’t expect to meet friendly people.. We traveled from Dubai to Muscat by bus and we were so confused confused getting out from the bus in the middle of this busy city. We met very funny old lady from New Zealand in the bus. She was so full of energy that we could not believe she is almost 80!!! She told us that she booked quite cheap hotel near the station so we asked if we can join her on the way to the hotel to ask for a room. It was 80 euro per night so definitely over our budget! Imagine the hotel receptionist did not even let us use hotel wifi to search for another hostel. Finally we stayed at Mutrah hotel – really nice (one of the cheapest in Muscat – still 40 euros!!!) So during two days in Muscat taxi drivers tried to cheat us probably hundred times, random guy on the bus stop wanted to sell us his phone – cheap, shitty, fake iPhone and the bus driver refused to give us a change! We though WTF?! Our first imporession of Oman was aweful! We were dying to leave Muscat as soon as possible and hit Nizwa to discover different parts of the country.
The countryside in Oman is definitely my type of adventure – zero tourist infrastructure, no convenient solutions, original people. After leaving Muscat we finally got to know these famous amazing Omani people, who I’ve been reading about. We took a bus from Muscat /leaving from Ruwi bus station/ to Muscat. They asked us several times to which Nizwa we’re going to, so obviously there are few NIzwa towns. Luckily we reached the right one. The whole country is made of sand. Even the mountains are sandy dark and deser sandy red. Local towns are built from bright sand Arabic style. We did not book any hostels hoping we simply find one. Wrong! All hotels are expensive and there are no backpackers’ guesthouses. At some stage the bus driver started talking on the phone and after few seconds he passes me his mobile phone. So I say hello and the voice responds: Your trip finish!! Suddenly the bus stops and they leave us with our backpacks in the middle of nowhere on the highway! It was almost dark and we were sure that there was absolutely no hostel in that area. We noticed some people were starring at us from the moment we got out from the bus but we felt there was no reason to panic. We started walking their direction to ask where can we find any hostel.
Amazing Omani people.
They say the closest one is 7 km away. It’s getting nervous. Finally we meet a man and start asking him about about guesthouses as he speaks English quite well. After few moments he says that his wife is going to take us to the nearest hotel. We are a little confused but I have a feeling they are nice people and we agree to go. The guy says: there’s no reason to worry about, and introduces his wife and his sister. So we get in. The girls also speak fluent English. They come from Tunisia, they arrived to Oman many years ago and they are doctors. The closest hotel is really expensive so they offer to take us to a different one and say if we don’t like it we can stay in their house for one night. It’s really unbelievable 😉 the other hotel is also expensive but they offer to take us to a guesthouse instead.We agree and the drive takes almost an hour! 😉 It’s already completely dark outside. Suddenly the policeman on a motorcycle stops us. We can’t believe this is happening and it almost feels like in some kind of a thriller movie. He talks a lot with the girls and asks for our passports. I say I need to take it out from the main luggage which makes him a bit upset and the air feels dense.. They talk a lot and we have no idea why it takes so long! Finally he lets us go, for the forst minute there a silence in the car while suddenly the girls start to laugh! they say the policeman thought that they are smuggling us from Dubai. OMG is this happening here? 😉 After another 15 minutes the girls ask us if it’s possible to go shopping to the nearest mall? Well of course, we don’t have much choice but at the same time this evening is becoming hilarious 😉 Although we are a little hungry and tired. We start to drive and we see a guesthouse and after checking at the reception we decide to stay. It’s only 50 euro! only… the cheapest in Nizwa! We give chocolates to the girls we bought at the mall for being incredibly nice, helpful and patient. One of them gives me her phone number and says to call them in any case. WOW. That’s a good start.
What to see in Nizwa?
We got up to discover Nizwa from early morning. Our goal is reach the Animal market around 7 o’clock. The Goat Market is the biggest local attraction with a very old tradition.
Nizwa Goat Market.
Nizwa Goat Market starts early morning and is organized only on Fridays! The Souk is located in the middle of the city near the Fort. There are hundred cars in front of the Souk gate. You walk along fish and fruit stands to reach goat market located in the middle. The whole trading ceremeony is unbelievable. Local farmers arrive early in the morning to gather in a circle to start trading. This is the most noisy auction I’ve seen, it takes you a second to undertand how it works. They walk in the circle, shouting out the price for their goat, carefully inspecting goats by grabbing their back and testes. This is typically men gathering, we are the only women there but they don’t say anything to me even when I take photos.
After Goat Market you can’t miss to visit the 17th century Nizwa Fort, which is one of the oldest in Oman. The panoramic view from the top is incredible.
We really wanted reach the Wahiba Sands – the red desert the next day. But guess what – there’s only one bus running from Nizwa city and goes to Muscat. There is no public transport from Nizwa to Wahiba Sands, you have to go back to Muscat. The cheapest trip by private car from NIzwa to Wahiba Sands desert costs 300 euro! This is out of question for us. We desperately tried to ask in few local hotels but the price was everywhere same. Finally our reception guy said that his friend is a driver and he will take us for 150 euro. Having no choice we agreed, going back to a noisy aweful Muscat was not an option! We booked the cheapest camp in the desert – Al Raha Camp. The price for the trip is expensive because of the 200 km distance from Nizwa to Wahiba desert and also because you absolutely need 4×4 car. Said – the driver seemed really nice. We got in to the brand new white Toyota Jeep to reach stunning red sand desert after few hours driving. The camels were walking along the desert trail and we were delighted to touch them and take some photos. It was so incredible!
Continue reading about Wahiba Sands red desert experience and night camps here: https://freestyletraveling.com/wahiba-sands-desert-oman/