The Shaqyriah, also called Wahiba Sands, are in my opinion THE highlight of any trip to Oman! There are many deserts on this planet, but the Wahiba Sands are surely what comes closest to what one has in mind when imagining endless sand dunes of various shapes, heights and colors. It simply goes as far as the eye can see, and beyond… You come here to experience and enjoy this endless immensity, the total quietness of the desert, with only the wind on the dunes as a background music, and marvel at the sheer beauty of this so hostile nature. Continue Reading →
Nizwa is the second largest city in Oman and a major tourist hub. It is basically on everyone’s route when visiting Oman, and it will most likely be your base for various ventures:
- Discovering the mountain ranges of Jebel Shams & Jebel Al Akhdar
- Marveling at the various Forts around Nizwa
- Wandering through some of the numerous “Abandoned Cities”
- Before moving further south to the desert and beyond
Al Hamra Abandoned Village, Tanuf Castle Ruins, Birkat Al Mouz Ruins… There are numerous “abandoned villages” throughout Oman, and you can spend a whole trip there only visiting those. You will find quite a few in your travel guide, some highly recommended. These old traditional villages were simply abandoned when newer cities were built from scratch over the last 3 to 4 decades, offering modern housing to the Omani population. If they indeed make for an interesting glimpse of what life might have been only one to two generations back, all in all they largely look the same. Far more interesting and still completely below the radars of most visitors, as it only opened shortly before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, is Harat Al Bilad Heritage Village, about 20 km south of Nizwa (22°47’27.924″ N 57°36’7.218″ E). Continue Reading →
I experienced twice the Friday Goat Market in Nizwa: in 2014 and in 2022. This is a unique experience, and one of the most vibrant markets I have ever experienced in all my trips (a few years back, I ranked it as second best market I have ever attended in Africa, Asia, the Middle East or South America…) Continue Reading →
Visiting the mountain ranges of Jebel Shams & Jebel Al Akhdar is clearly one of the highlights of Oman, and one that deserves 2 to 3 days at least. Of course, you can stay much longer there, especially if you are into serious hiking: possibilities are numerous, for beginners and seasoned trekkers alike. Continue Reading →
Grand Escapades’ Travel Guide To Iran – Friendliness, Culture, Modernity: So Far Away From The Clichés!
Itinerary And Time Of The Visit
In April 2014, I spent 2 weeks in Iran and covered the cultural heartland of the country (most of which has now turned into the “Tourist Trail”, except Na’In & Qom): Shiraz, Esfahan, Na’In, Yazd, Kashan, Qom and last but not least Teheran.
In September 2017, I spent 3.5 weeks and wanted to discover less visited parts of the country and covered Tabriz & Northwest Iran (Zanjan, Soltaniyeh, Takht-e Soleiman); Teheran; Mashhad & Torbat-e Jam; the Southwest of Iran (Sushtar, Choqa Zanbil & Shush); before returning on the “Tourist Trail” (Kashan, Esfahan, Yazd & Shiraz). Continue Reading →
Pictures of Iran on my second trip… In April 2014, I spent 2 weeks in Iran and covered the cultural heartland of Iran (most of which has now turned into the “Tourist Trail”, except Na’In & Qom): Shiraz, Esfahan, Na’In, Yazd, Kashan, Qom and last but not least Teheran.
In September 2017, I spent 3.5 weeks and wanted to discover less visited parts of the country and covered Tabriz & Northwest Iran (Zanjan, Soltaniyeh, Takht-e Soleiman); Teheran; Mashhad & Torbat-e Jam; the Southwest of Iran (Sushtar, Choqa Zanbil & Shush); before returning on the “Tourist Trail” (Kashan, Esfahan, Yazd & Shiraz).
Easy To Travel On A Budget!
Type Of Travel
My two trips to Iran showed a major difference: on the first trip in April 2014, we were 2 and hence shared quite a few expenditures (double rooms, sharing cabs…). In September 2017, I was traveling solo, and had to cover everything on my own. This makes a significant difference, especially in a country like Iran, where you will have to rely on chartered taxis further afield and where you will more often than not pay the same for a single and for a double room… Continue Reading →
The Ashura falls on the 10th day of the month of Muharram, the 1st month of the Islamic calendar. It is marked by Sunni Muslims with a voluntary day of fasting which commemorates the day Noah left the Ark, and the day when God opened the Red Sea for the Jews fleeing from Pharaoh.
For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a solemn day of mourning the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad and 8th Prophet of Shia Islam, in 680 AD at Karbala in modern-day Iraq. It is marked with mourning rituals and passion plays re-enacting the martyrdom. People dress in black and parade through the streets slapping their chests and chanting. Some Shia men seek to emulate the suffering of Hussein by flagellating themselves with chains. A fatwa now forbids this in Iran, though. Continue Reading →
Yazd also has turned – deservedly – into a major touristic hub in Iran, and this is not without consequences. Around major attractions, taxis and touts approach visitors offering numerous tours and activities in and around town. But the good news is: once you venture a few streets away, you will be the only foreigner! Continue Reading →