Articles - March 2021

Destinations Tourism in Misfat Al Abriyeen: A Guide to Oman’s Mud Village December 06, 2021

Located high in Oman’s Jebel Shams Mountains, Misfat Al Abriyeen is a tiny hill village, which is located in Wilayat Al Hamra in A’Dakhiliyah Region. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful settlements in Oman located approximately 1000 meters above sea level.  Mountain springs provide water for verdant agricultural terraces growing delicious fruits. Made up of houses, a maze of shaded passageways, beautiful gardens, and open terraces, it’s a well-known spot among both local and international visitors. Misfat Al Abriyeen is 34 miles (55 km) northwest of Nizwa. A paved road leads to the village, but the village itself can only be explored on foot, as it consists of narrow passageways up and down the steep slopes of the hill. Misfat is wrapped around a headland and runs along two valleys, clinging to the south side of a steep mountain. The streets are narrow, rough, and steep. Visiting this ancient village is one of the top things to do in Oman! History of Misfat Al Abriyeen The area has a 300-year history of human settlement and agriculture and is best known for its incredible mud architecture. People of Misfat Al Abriyeen have relied on their agriculture for all these years to make a living. Easily one of the most beautiful aspects of the town is the terraces, in which all the fruits are grown. The settlers of the Misfat Al Abriyeen originally come from a nomadic Omani tribe known as "Al Abri Tribe". These settlers created the village hundreds of years ago and started to farm the land as a natural Omani oasis was found. What is really incredible about this village is that the mud-brick houses that are a majority here have stood strong for hundreds of years. This shows the quality of the architecture that can be found in Misfat Al Abriyeen. How to get there The only easy way to get there is by motor vehicle. You could get there in what the Omani people call a “small car” but it really is worth hiring a 4×4.  There are many beautiful places in Oman, and especially in this village, that you need one in order to get to. When you arrive in the car park at the highest point of the village, you will need to descend on foot through a network of tiny narrow streets.  These streets are very rough and many of them are stepping. The only other way to get there would be on a guided tour from Muscat.  There are lots of companies offering these trips. What to do in Misfat Al Abriyeen The countryside around the town is the perfect place to go hiking! There are many paths that can take you further up the mountain, or along its length. Additionally, trekking is something you will enjoy a lot. Leave the bottom of the village and walk west, there are several paths out into the western valley which is much more complex and rugged than the smooth valley side to the east.  You'll find several lovely stepped walks among the tiny irrigated terrace fields.  These paths were built to give access to all the fields and so they form a network rather than a linear arrangement. Eventually, these western walks lead up to the road just before the new town, which is a kilometer or two from the old village. These treks will leave you breathless, both from climbing and from the impact of the surrounding beauty. Attractions near Misfat Al Abriyeen Misfat is located between (but not on any road between – ) Nizwa and Jebel Shams, and it’s also fairly near Bahla Fort. So you don't want to miss visiting any of them. Jebel Shams Balcony Walk: Jebel Shams is the highest mountain in Oman at a few meters over 3,000. The stars are clear up the mount if you avoid the full moon. The road up to Jebel Shams from Nizwa is real magic. Walking across valleys and cliffs, some parts of the road feel as if you are on Mars! Nizwa: It is the former capital of Oman and is a bustling city surrounded by date palms and with a livestock market held every Friday. The market also sells pottery, metalwork, antiques and hardware as well as meat and fish, and it is very close to the Nizwa Fort. Bahla Fort: This vast castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bahla Fort sits on a high hill in the middle of the palm oasis, and it is an almost triangular building. Explore the Aflaj system The ancient Omani irrigation system that is called "Aflaj" is the way that the agriculture of this village has been made possible.  Aflaj means an open irrigation channel.  They carry the water from mountain springs to terraced fields in these mountain villages.  Their engineering is ancient and tremendously precise, water flows slowly along them. No-one knows when they were built, but UNESCO estimates that Oman’s 3,000 Aflaj systems are somewhere between 400 and 2,700 years old. Where to stay Misfah Old House:  Misfah Old House is the closest image of an Omani homestay. The Old House was built in the traditional Al Hamra style, featuring a gorgeous breakfast room that overlooks a sea of date palms, and a set of shared and private terraces. The price of a room includes half board (breakfast and dinner), with all meals prepared using locally grown ingredients by women who live in Misfat Al Abriyeen. Hissen Al Misfah: This stunning hotel offers much to its guests. In true Omani style, the rooms have a cave-like appearance and mattresses on the floor. The staff speaks English as well and the room service is always available and responsive. People and traditions If it's your first time visiting Misfat Al Abriyeen, you need to know that women and men should dress modestly. For example: wear covered shoulders, and get shorts or skirts at least knee-length.  Of course, dress codes don’t apply to kids. In addition to dressing modestly, signs at the entrance of the village request visitors to refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol, and to not pick fruit. Every year, the whole village celebrates "Eid Al Fitr" with the tradition of Shuwa. Palm logs are burnt in a deep communal pit within a small courtyard in the heart of the town until the whole ground is hot.  Marinated meat is buried by each family in the charcoal embers, then covered, left for two days and exhumed for the feast. In Misfat Al Abriyeen, many of the old houses have no piped water, and the residents still use public baths.  There are parts of the village that are reserved for ladies only. They are clearly marked. Misfat Al Abriyeen is the perfect spot for anyone who wants to try something different and experience village life. It's wholeheartedly recommended! Also Read: Different cultures: Strange traditions around the world

Destinations Sharm el Sheikh Activities: Explore the beauty of the Sinai Peninsula July 13, 2021

Because of its luxury resorts, stunning beaches, and abundance of sightseeing attractions, Sharm El-Sheikh has become one of Egypt's most popular tourist destinations. In Sharm El Sheikh, there are several things to do. Hundreds of Red Sea coral reef sites can be found here, as well as rich marine life. Sharm El Sheikh has some of the most stunning underwater scenery in the world. It's a scuba-diving paradise, with crystal-clear waters and an amazing array of tropical fish and vibrant coral reefs. This is why Sharm El Sheikh activities are varied and plentiful. Sharm El Sheikh has become a renowned Egyptian destination by concentrating solely on sun and sea vacations, with a family-friendly environment and world-class resorts. Sharm el-Sheikh is the major tourism hub of the Sinai Peninsula and one of the best diving destinations in the world. The Red Sea's underwater wonders, especially the waters of the Ras Mohammed Marine Park just south of the city, were the ones who first put "Sharm" on the map, and the diving and snorkeling on offer here continue to draw throngs of divers every year. This is also one of the best destinations in Egypt if you just want to hang out on the beach, and because of the excellent facilities on offer, it's a particular favorite for family-friendly holidays. Whether you're here for sand or sea life, after exploring the temples and graves in the rest of the country, Sharm el-Sheikh is a great choice for a beach break. Here is a list of the best Sharm el Sheikh Activities. Best Sharm El Sheikh Activities Sharm El Sheikh is the closest destination to Europe with year-round sunshine and warm waters where you can soak up the sun, dive with amazing coral reefs, and enjoy the sea whenever you need a break from your routine. In Sharm El Sheikh, there is a wide range of events and things to do. It provides a diverse selection of thrilling, water-based, and extreme sports. You can try a rare experience like skydiving or parachute from a helicopter in addition to swimming, snorkeling, sailing, wind, and kite-surfing. Booking a jeep safari tour into the nearby Sinai desert to experience the magic of an established safari into the mountainous Sinai desert is also one of the best Sharm el Sheikh Activities. The magnificent St Catherine Monastery and the majestic Sinai Mountains are both worth visiting. In addition, the town is home to some of Egypt's most well-known and professional spas. In addition to the countless nights spent dancing the night away at local pubs, nightclubs, and beaches. In Sharm El Sheikh, Naama Bay is where you can go for your daily shopping and souvenirs. The Ras Mohammed National Park and the Nabq Protectorate are both worth visiting and exploring. Sharm El Sheikh has everything you need to make your vacation a memorable one. Ras Mohammed National Park The Ras Mohammed National Park is credited with founding Sharm el-Sheikh as a tourist destination. One of the most popular nature reserves in Egypt, This peninsula is home to glorious beaches with excellent snorkeling just offshore, the world's second most northerly mangrove forest, and a saltwater lake, and is surrounded by some of the world's most spectacular dive sites. Anyone visiting Sharm el-Sheikh should make a trip here. Old Quay Beach (with its excellent coral reef that is easily accessible from the beach) and Aqaba Beach are the best beaches. Visitors looking for a clear view can go to the Shark Observatory clifftop on the southern edge of Ras Mohammed, which provides views of both sides of the Red Sea. Thistlegorm Dive Site One of the best Sharm el Sheikh Activities is a trip to Sharm el-Sheikh for many advanced divers means just one thing: diving the Thistlegorm. This ship, loaded with cargo to resupply British troops, was sunk by German bombers during World War II, making it one of the best wreck dives in the world. Fish now flit around the cargo holds, which are full of jeeps, motorcycles, and armaments that never made it to the front. Since the wreck is located in the Straits of Gubal, off the western coast of the Sinai Peninsula, it is accessible as either a long one-day or overnight boat ride from Sharm el-Sheikh. At least two dives of the wreck are included with all boat trips, as well as a stop at one of Ras Mohammed's dive sites. The overnight trips provide an extra advantage of a night dive of the wreck. Naama Bay Naama Bay is also one of the popular Sharm El Sheikh Activities, as it is surrounded by a white-sand beach and swaying palm trees, which is the nucleus of Sharm el-resort Sheikh's life. If you get tired of the sand, there are plenty of restaurants, cafés, and souvenir shops, but Naama Bay is all about the beach. The entire beach area is surrounded by a cluster of luxury resorts and is surrounded by a pedestrian-only promenade. Naama Bay is one of Egypt's top options for those looking for a holiday full of sloth-like sunbathing. The whole beach area is well-equipped, with plenty of sunshades and loungers, and beachside cafés ensure you won't have to leave your sandy paradise for the whole day. Day Trip to Saint Catherine's Monastery St. Catherine's Monastery, the most significant historical site on the Sinai Peninsula, is situated at the foot of Mt. Sinai, where Moses is believed to have received the Ten Commandments. This Greek Orthodox hermitage, one of the world's oldest operating monasteries, is home to the Old Testament's famed "burning bush," as well as a museum displaying some of the monastery's glittering array of religious icons and ancient manuscripts, which is regarded as one of the best in the world. A day trip here is one of the best things to do in Sharm el-Sheikh for history buffs, and it can also include a climb to the summit of Mt. Sinai. Shark's Bay Shark's Bay, which is much more exclusive than Naama Bay and has some of Sharm el-most Sheikh's exclusive five-star resorts and hotels clustered around its sweeping sand, is slightly further north. If you want to spend your vacation in full tranquility, this is the place to go. Soho Square Center's dining center, which includes some of Sharm el-best Sheikh's restaurants and cafes, as well as stores, ensures you won't miss out on the action if you chose to stay here. Sharm Old Market The town's souq (bazaar) district, Sharm Old Market (also known as Sharm al-Maya), is full of twinkling Arabic lamps, traditional shisha pipes, and finely engraved woodwork. It's best to visit at sunset or later in the evening when the hottest part of the day has passed and you can shop and browse in quiet. The region is also full of affordable and cheerful restaurants and cafés, making it a perfect place to spend the evening. The market has a distinct feel from the rest of Sharm el-Sheikh, as it is imbued with a much more haphazard local atmosphere than the rest of the region. The new Al-Sahaba Mosque, on the outskirts of the market city, has an imposing exterior with influences from Fatimid, Mamluk, and Ottoman mosque styles. Where to Stay in Sharm el-Sheikh for Sightseeing Sharm el-Sheikh is a sprawling city. The middle is Naama Bay, with Sharm Al-Maya to the south and Shark's Bay to the north. In general, the most exclusive resorts are in Shark's Bay, Sharm Al-Maya and Hadaba (between Naama Bay and Sharm Al-Maya) have mid-range and budget resorts, and Naama Bay has a combination of all three. Luxury Hotels Garden Bay's Hyatt Regency (between Naama Bay and Shark's Bay) provides rooms with views of the lush gardens that lead down to the beach. The Four Seasons Resort Sharm el-Sheikh, situated in Shark's Bay, has plenty of Arabic décor in the rooms and a perfect stretch of palm-tree-lined white sand. Mid-Range Hotels Suitable for the entire family The Stella Di Mare Beach Hotel & Spa features palm-lined pools, a range of restaurants, and an exciting animation team. The Movenpick Resort Sharm el Sheikh is located on a cliff overlooking the bay and boasts one of the city's best restaurants. In Shark's Bay, the Xperience Seabreeze Resort provides affordable prices, sea views, large pools, and themed dinners. Budget Hotels The best budget hotels are in the Naama Bay area, and they are very driver-friendly, acting as both dive centers and lodging. The Camel Dive Club & Hotel is located in the heart of Naama's city, while Oona's Dive Club Hotel is nestled within the bay's northern curve. Also, Read: South Sinai Travel: Best places to visit in Egypt's blessed land! Luxor and Aswan: Best places to visit in ancient Egypt's capital cities