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Author Archive | Gilles

Magical Wahiba Sands

Wahiba Sands, Oman

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 →

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Nizwa & The Surrounding Forts

Nizwa Fort, Oman

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

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An Unexpected Highlight – Harat Al Bilad Heritage Village

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 →

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Jebel Shams & Jebel Al Akhdar

“Balcony Walk” along Wadi Ghul, Oman’s Grand Canyon, Sultanat of Oman

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 →

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Catalonia – A Selection of Pictures

Forallac and Santa Cristina d’Aro

We spent 4 weeks in Catalonia and the Costa Brava, Spain, in August 2021. This was our first trip abroad since the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and our first trip abroad since the twins had been born.

The Costa Brava and Catalonia were definitely not high on my travel list, especially in the summer and the heart of the tourist season. Nonetheless, I was very pleased to discover that it was indeed quite easy to partly escape the crowds, and that some parts at least were not completely built and turned into mass-tourism hotspots: beautiful Medieval Villages, a Wild Coast that really deserves its name, and of course Barcelona, which I discovered for the first time.

Of course, with 3 kids between 16 months and 3 years old, we were somewhat limited in our activities, and with photography – So here you go: my first Photo Essay solely shot with an iPhone 11.

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Grand Escapades’ Travel Guide To Morocco

A Few Glimpses Of A Great Travel Destination

Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou

Itinerary And Time Of The Visit

We traveled 10 days in the beginning of November 2019, and drove a loop starting from Marrakech to Essaouira, Taroudant, Agdz in the Draa Valley, Ait Ben Haddou (including the spectacular drive to Telouet), and back to Marrakech. This is only a small part of this huge and very diverse country, but it was an amazing road-trip nonetheless, that really put Morocco high on our list for the near future. Continue Reading →

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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Morocco

Catering For All Budgets

Djebel Kissane near Adgz, Draa Valley

Type Of Travel

Morocco was our fourth trip with an infant (at the time of travel, Jules was 16 months old), and given the overall price level & our need to rest and relax, we decided to splurge a little and actually upgraded our standards of travel, going to a mid-range (upper mid-range ?) type of travel: Continue Reading →

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Morocco: A Selection Of 50 Pictures

The Fortified Walls of Taroudant

Morocco took me by surprise, honestly! It had never been somehow on my radar in the past, and I didn’t really know what to expect – Though I must admit I was surely biased about a country I considered mass-tourism orientated.

True, you will not be the only tourist in Marrakech… By far not! But as soon as we left Marrakech, we could enjoy a beautiful country with most of the time surprisingly few other foreign visitors, even though we covered a very classic route: Marrakech – Essaouira – Taroudant – Agdz in the Draa Valley – Ait Ben Haddou – Marrakech. Continue Reading →

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Travel Guide To Iran

Grand Escapades’ Travel Guide To Iran – Friendliness, Culture, Modernity: So Far Away From The Clichés!

Jamkaran Mosque, Qom

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 →

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