Dashing through the sand, on a one-humped camel train, through the wadis you go, laughing all the way... about the fact you've managed to escape the Great British Christmas rush. If you'd rather swap Brussels sprouts for beach scenes, Oman fits the 'Chirstmas getaway' bill perfectly with its blend of beautiful coastline, captivating culture, majestic desert scenery and some of our favourite hotels in the world. With temperatures staying around a toasty 22°C in December, you could be opening presents on the beach this year (novelty Santa hat essential, matching Speedos strongly discouraged)...
Oman's capital is a breath of fresh air compared to its glitzy Emirati neighbours. Sandwiched between the ocean and the spectacular Hajar Mountains, Muscat has beautiful old forts, uber luxe hotels, sandy beaches and splendid souqs on offer. Top billing has to go to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque though, an elaborate place of worship which can accommodate 20,000 worshippers and houses the second largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet in the world - measuring a whopping 230ft by 200ft.
Salalah: land of frankincense, myrrh and er, bananas that grow in the desert. Not to mention some splendid white sand beaches and palm trees aplenty. It's the perfect place for a relaxing Christmas break in Oman; unwind at one of the area's top-class spa hotels in between some delicious fresh fish lunches and snorkelling over vibrant corals. This is also the gateway to the Empty Quarter, a vast desert of towering dunes (some several hundred feet tall) where Wilfred Thesiger spent time with traditional Bedouins before writing his travel classic Arabian Sands.
Wander the Beautiful Wadis
Dotted around Oman are a number of beautiful wadis - little oases boasting turquoise waters, rocky caves and trickling waterfalls, punctuated by swaying palm trees. Wadi Shab is particularly spectacular, featuring breathtaking views and some serious biodiversity, including a submerged cave. The wadi also provides ample opportunity to do some swimming, hiking, rock climbing and camping - all within an easy 1hr 40 drive from Muscat.
Hike the Hajar Mountains
An easy day trip from Muscat, the Hajar Mountains are the highest mountain range in the eastern Arabian Peninsula, and allow for some serious hiking. Explore Jebel Shams, the highest mountain of the Hajar Range, which provides phenomenal views over the rugged landscapes and spectacularly deep Wadi Ghul, commonly known as 'The Grand Canyon of Arabia'. Also worth a visit is the nearby ancient town of Nizwa, surrounded by an oasis of thick palms and famous for its high-walled souq.
Merry and Bright Midnight Mass
Oman is a predominantly Muslim country (as you might expect), however the diverse and relaxed nature of the population, which includes a fair number of expatriates, means various religions pray side by side. If you want to do something a little different this Christmas, but don't want to compromise on your tradition of attending midnight mass, we will be able to arrange for you to do so in magical Muscat, before heading down to the beach for a Christmas Day dip in the sea.