The breakfast in Safari Hotel was rich – eggs, sausages, fruit, etc - more than we expected. Even coffee was not instant Nescafe, but it still was not strong what we have used to drink in Northern Europe.
After checking out we drove to Nizwa Souq about which we have heard and read only good words. It was beautiful; the architecture is based on the Omani and Islamic patterns, giving the visitor a glimpse of Oman’s traditional building skills. Nizwa market provides a opportunity to have look at the collections of traditional crafts such as gold, silver and copper ornaments, wooden works and other handicraft products.
We were a bit late at the souq (arrived about 10:30AM), the goat sale was already finished and locals have already made their purchases. Only tourists walked around. But still, it was good opportunity to try the negotiation skills and buy souvenirs and silver. Beautiful silver rings were sold at one rial per gram; we bought some and also some souvenirs. It is interesting and useful to know that you can pay with credit card at Nizwa souq.
It was really hot at the souq, no wind and sun, I believe it was close to 40 degrees Celsius. We bought some fruits and walked to Nizwa Fort, next to the market. Nizwa fort is huge, 24 meter high and speaks definitely about importance of Nizwa in Oman’s history.
Nizwa has been the capital of Oman. The wilayat of Nizwa is a heart of the Dakhiliya region, it is 170 km west of capital Muscat. Nizwa has a population around 70 000 people
As our mobile phones stopped working after leaving the coast, we bought here the local sim-card for Nawras network and prepaid 5 OMR. The seller told that international text message is cheap – 50 baisa, but call to Estonia is 2 OMR per minute.
We have decided to explore around Nizwa and go to Omani highest mountain Jebel Shams which is 3075 and the name means Mountain of the Sun. We went there not to see the peaks but we have read the Wadi Ghul which lies alongside it has spectacular views. Wadi Ghul is also known as the Grand Canyon of Arabia.
The canyon is about 30 minutes ride from Nizwa. Before that there is an other attraction - Al Hoota Cave which we did not visit, as we have seen the stalactites and we did not want to go to the dark.
We drove on the paved road to Ghul and there made sharp right turn to enter the canyon. To do that 4WD is needed, as there the driving is at the bottom of the wadi and this graded track is rough. But this is definitely worth doing, as the views are spectacular. Only one thing ruined the atmosphere. We stopped the car and went outside to enjoy fully what we saw. Suddenly, “children-the-sellers” appeared from nowhere and tried to sell rugs, bracelets and key rings by making quite a noise. Fortunately an other car of tourists came and we were free to enjoy the views.
It was really hot day and there was almost no wind in the canyon, so we felt like we need a swim and refreshing. As it is common in Oman that you can be at the hotel pool area even if you are not a guest for a fee of course, we decided to use the option in Falaj Daris Hotel in Nizwa. The receptionist took 3 OMR per person and we were free to use the pool as long we wanted.
Falaj Daris is beautiful hotel; it has two pools and in addition one pool for children, covered by the shade and also a playground. We really enjoyed being at that pool; at one point we decided that why not to stay here, in this hotel, also. Unfortunately the receptionist told that the hotel is fully booked – Thursday in Arabia has same meaning as Saturday in western world. BUT, he still gave us some hope, as some guests have not arrived yet. He promised to call them and let us know within a hour if they will not come. After 15 minutes he found us and said that we can check in. Even more after a question he also gave us the deduction from the hotel room price for the fee we paid for a pool.
We had a dinner at the same place as last night – Arab World Restaurant, because the other restaurants around did not look to have much guests and we did not want to have a dinner in sleek hotel restaurant. After a dinner we sat at the pool bar for viewing daily photos and have a beer.