I realise I have been out of touch lately.
My lame excuse is that summer is here and this is a very inactive period but I would not be entirely honest. I have indeed been very busy with my new role at a local charitable organization I am volunteering for as a Business Manager; I have also been progressing my kite boarding lessons (I am now learning to jump which is a little bit scary and exciting at the same time); I have been busy writing an article for a magazine about corals of Oman and the conservation expedition in Musandam, editing and sending photos to a local magazine for the publication of an article on a recent charity event organised by the Italian community in Muscat to raise fund for the Earthquakes’ victims in Italy.
Normally summer is not the most exciting period in Oman. Temperatures are infernal – they hover around and above 45c (114F) – and humidity, which can go well above 50% makes it feel even worse. Yesterday it felt particularly bad and when I checked WeatherPro it read “feels like 52c”. I believed it.
As you can imagine this is no time to hang out and about under the sun; which is a shame, because Muscat and in general Oman, is an outdoorsy place. The capital doesn’t have a great deal to offer in terms of city life: shopping is unbelievably uninspiring and boring, restaurants after almost four years here can end up being a bit repetitive and I am not so keen on going every week to the cinema to see censored and odd movies.
Those who can, leave for the summer: the city literally empties out as soon as the school term starts. Then a second wave escapes for Ramadan.
So what’s left to do for those who are stuck here?
Here are some suggestions on how to occupy some time at weekends or use some spare time to survive the summer.
- Go camping up the mountains: last weekend we were in Jebel Al Akhdar. At 2300m above sea level we were rewarded with rain (yes rain! but not for the whole weekend; just enough for a diversion!) and temperatures between 23c and 25c (though at some point when lightning struck just on a rock we were driving past, our car thermometer read 16c. Maybe it shortcut?). Going to the mountains is a great way to take a break from the blistering heat. If you don’t fancy camping you will find hotels with proper beds.
- Take advantage of the amazing low season rates and play royalty at one of the fancy top starred hotels in the region. During the summer hotels around the GCC countries apply heavily discounted rates (even better if you can produce a GCC resident card). It is much easier to beat the heat in a temperature-controlled pool while sipping cocktails.
- Pop toDubai (4.5 hrs drive from Muscat) for a shopping spree: again taking advantage of the low hotel rates, it is worth visiting our bustling neighbour and spend hours (and cash) wandering in and out of shops at the many air conditioned malls (my favourite remains Dubai Mall). Beat the heat at one of the two famous Dubai’s water parks and end the day sipping sundowners, followed by fine dining at one of the many restaurants (avoid Ramadan if you want a glass of vino with your meal though!) or why not? hit the clubbing scene.
- Spend an afternoon brunching at one of the fancy hotels in Muscat.
- Get on a boat and spend the afternoon soaking and snorkelling in the warm sea in Bandar Al Khyran. If you don’t have your very own dingy you can book a dhow cruise.
- Go scuba diving or learn to scuba dive (message me if you want my personal recommendation on a dive centre) and hope for a close encounter with a whale shark.
- Learn to Kitesurf on Azaiba beach or join a Kitesurfing safari heading south along the coast to idyllic spots (I will be going doing a trip soon and I will be able to tell you what it is like!).
- Take advantage of the waves created by the effects of the nearby South East Asian monsoon and go down the coast surfing in Aseela (3-3.5 hrs drive fromMuscat).
- Visit Salalah and see Oman under a different light during Khareef: the monsoon season in the south of the country brings fog, drizzle and green fields as well as pleasant cooler temperatures. We went last year in September and it was unbelievably lush. I recommend the experience!
- Cool down in one of the Wadis: some rivers in Oman have a constant flow of fresh and cool water. My favourite for the hot summer days is Wadi Hawasinah (also known as The Chains): it is a little bit tricky to climb over the rocks but there is no long trek, the wadi is mostly in the shade thanks to its high walls and at the end you are rewarded with a lovely pool with a waterfall. Instructions on how to get there can be found on the Oman Off Road Explorer guide.
- Learn to climb or practice your climbing skills on the indoor climbing wall at Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre in Al Khuwair
I am sure there is more. I will update the list as I remember. In the meantime if you have any additional ideas feel free to add to the list.