Road Trip: Abu Dhabi to Musandam

With a short week upon us due to the National Day holidays recently, we took ourselves off on the drive from Abu Dhabi to Musandam for a getaway. To find out all about it, read on..!

Musandam is a bit of an interesting place in that it’s part of Oman, though it’s not actually attached to the main body of the country, and hence is known as the Musandam peninsula – well, that and the fact it sticks out into the Straight of Hormuz, the narrow bit that leads from the Arabian Gulf into the Persian Gulf. And with the geography lesson over, I’ll get on with it… 🙂

Musandam is around a four hour drive from Abu Dhabi (including time spent crossing the border), so about an hour less than that from Dubai, and it’s a pretty straightforward and fast drive to the border.

Check your car insurance before you leave as if you don’t already have Oman included on your car insurance (and the documents with you to prove it), you’ll need to purchase it at the border.

It’s not a difficult border crossing, although it can be a bit confusing and doesn’t necessarily seem to be very consistent. UAE residents will have to get out of the car and go into the main building to present car insurance and registration as well as passports to get your exit stamp. It cost us Dhs30 per person to leave the UAE, plus Dhs16 that we couldn’t really work out what it was for! Then, you get back in your car and drive through a gate where you hand them the ticket you were given inside, drive into the Oman side and go into their building, fill out a customs entry card for each person, show all the documentation again and pay 5 Omani Rials per person for your entry visas. From there, that’s it – it’s back to the car and off you can go!

And from that point on, it’s literally onwards and upwards. I’ve never forgotten the first time we came to Musandam and drove the coastal road – it’s just breathtaking. Despite having travelled a lot, I haven’t done a huge amount of road trips, but I’m convinced this must count as one of the most stunning roads (but lesser known) to travel anywhere in the world…

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It’s a remarkable landscape to pass through with the beach and those blue, blue waters on one side and the incredible rock formations on the other. It’s really far more beautiful than the pictures can capture, it’s just sensational.

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We stayed at the Atana Musandam hotel in Khasab which has only been open a year. It’s a new hotel, built in a traditional style and offering four star comfort along with a beautiful outlook.

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Hotel entrance from the driveway
Hotel reception
Hotel reception
View over the hotel - main building, restaurant and guest rooms
View over the hotel – main building, restaurant and guest rooms

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The rooms are lovely – clean, simple, comfortable and welcoming with everything you need. And the hotel has a great friendly and laid back atmosphere which I really enjoyed. It’s great to be able to feel completely free of any pressures and that added to the ambience – you don’t need a spa in a place like this – there’s instant relaxation in the air around you! There were loads of families around too and a kids pool and play area. It’s a great choice if you prefer some home comforts over camping!

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And the main pool, as well as having a great view of the landscape, is perfectly heated – the water temperature is just divine, no chills here!

But as lovely as it is to relax and laze around the hotel, in Musandam you’ve really got to get out and explore the amazing landscape, and one of the best ways to do this is with a Dhow Tour of the Hormuz Fjords (they don’t call it the ‘Norway of Arabia’ for nothing!). The hotel organised everything for us with Khasab Travel and Tours and off we went on a half day tour.

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Moncer, our friendly guide

Despite only being a few hours away from home, it feels like a completely different world. There’s something about being out on a boat in such incredible surroundings that is so completely relaxing.

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And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see Dolphins!

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As well as fabulous scenery and dolphins there’s also a stop for swimming and snorkelling…

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And the beauty is not all above ground – there’s plenty to see under the water too. Musandam is renowned as an excellent spot for diving.

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Since one of us needed to stay with Baby Arabian Notes, I didn’t swim, but I did take the opportunity to take a walk onto Telegraph island to have a look about. Telegraph Island is so-called as it was a British Outpost in the 19th century, and an important station of the Empire at the time for enabling the London to Karachi telegraph cable. It’s also said to be where the expression ’round the bend’ comes from, due to being a tough posting between the intense summer heat and the isolation that resulted in the officers desperation to leave, and travelling back ’round the bend’ in the straight of Hormuz to India.

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Telegraph Island

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We had a fantastic morning out and I can’t tell you how refreshed and relaxed we felt! It’s well worth it for the amazing scenery alone, but it was also great fun and really interesting too, to learn something about the tiny villages and people who live in the area.

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Back on dry land, we decided that we couldn’t leave without checking out Khasab Castle and were pleased to see that it was within walking distance of the hotel (although to be fair, Khasab isn’t a big place so most things are very close by!).

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The castle is a 17th century fort with some great information and exhibits on the history of both the building and the region.

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If you’ve come in a group by four-wheel drive, it’s also well worth taking a trip off-road to Jebel Harim, the highest peak in Musandam and Khor Najd bay too for even more incredible scenery. Failing that, you can always opt for a Mountain Safari with one of the local operators.

Jebel Harim - spot the person to put it in perspective!
Jebel Harim – spot the person to put it in perspective!
The amazing Khor Najd
The amazing Khor Najd

And that’s enough from me – bottom line is that Musandam is crazy beautiful and if you haven’t been, I urge you to put a date in the diary and go as soon as possible, you really will be glad you did. And, if you enter my giveaway below, one of you lucky readers can win a one night stay at the hotel!

Find out more information about the hotel on their website: Atana Musandam Resort. Find out more about Dhow Tours here: Khasab Travel and Tours 

TO ENTER: For a chance to win, log in via the Rafflecopter widget below – you can enter by choosing any one of the methods, or as many as you like to gain extra chances to win and if you’re using twitter to tweet an entry you can do this once per day, giving you extra chances to win every day! 🙂

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

T’s & C’s: One prize of a one night stay at the Atana Musandam Hotel with breakfast for two included. Maximum room occupancy two adults plus one child under the age of ten (child on room only basis). Prize valid for three months. Prize not redeemable over Christmas and New Year period. Reservations required, booking subject to availability. Flights and transfers not included. All entries will be verified. Winner is generated at random by the app. Competition closes at midnight on December 16th, 2015, winner will be contacted by email and announced on Facebook and Twitter.

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