A wealth of unique geological attractions in the Sultanate are waiting to be discovered with support of the Oman Geoheritage Guide application. The project, which has been introduced by the Ministry of Tourism, is offering a range of Geotourism activities for different carefully selected points of interest, with support of a comprehensive smartphone application, providing media and information, including maps, podcasts and images.
Oman is located on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. It has great geological diversity with mountain ranges reaching 3,000 meters high in the north, green oases in the south, and a desert plain in between.
A geologist once said that Oman is one big wonderful outdoor geological Museum with unique geological values. It is the only country in the world composed mostly of oceanic crust and rocks that originated from the mantle – deep below the earth’s surface. In addition, evidence can be seen of continental drift and geological processes that have dominated the earth’s surface for many millions of years.
Therefore Oman is a well known hot spot for Geotourism activities. Geotourism has been described as a form of natural area tourism that specifically focuses on geology and landscape. It is based on the magic of discovery and the power of authenticity experienced through contact with the natural heritage of the land.
In Oman, geological stories can be found everywhere. Some of these are presented on a dramatic scale such as in the massive folding and faulting that can be seen on parts of Oman’s 700 km long mountain range, or the huge piles of pillow lava in Wadi AI-Jizzi which are evidence of underwater volcanoes releasing magma to be rapidly cooled deep on the ocean floor. Others stories are found in smaller detail, such as how the fossils of sea creatures can be found deep inland or the story of once mighty forests in areas that are now barren deserts.
These stories can even be found in the hustle and bustle of urban areas. For example visitors to Muscat Corniche need only to stand and face the ocean in order to imagine the scene back in time around 90 million years ago, when a several kilometer thick slab of the oceanic crust started to push its way over the top of the northern coastline of Oman. This unusual over thrusting continued for around 20 Million years, pushing rocks originating from deep within the ocean hundreds of kilometers inland.
In order to provide tourist information and to create awareness about the rich geology in Oman, several theme routes and more than 100 geological attractions, have been developed for a unique Geotourism experience. These theme routes can be experienced on half-day tours or can be combined to joyful day trips. The tours also offer opportunities for different kinds of activities, ranging from a comfortable tour in an air conditioned 4W drive, hiking and trekking tours, mountain bike tours, as well as boat trips including swimming and snorkeling activities.
The Ministry of Tourism has published the smartphone application “Oman Geoheritage Guide”, to allow easy and smooth access to the geological stars in Oman. The app, which is available for the latest Google Android and Apple iOS smartphone operating systems, is providing guidance with support of GPS and with interactive maps. This will lead visitors safely towards the point of interest or on the different theme routes. At each geological attraction the app is providing comprehensive information.
The Oman Geoheritage Guide is the starting point to explore Oman’s geological wonders with support of latest technologies, which will also enhance visitor’s learning experience and at the same time boost enthusiasm for understanding the surroundings in a way that is both fun and instructive.
Within the app visitors can choose from a general nationwide Geoheritage guide or they can download packages with geological adventures.
Further information is available online at www.omantourism.gov.om.
Oman Geoheritage Guide Apps
More than 100 geological points of interest, from Musandam in the north, to Salalah in south are waiting to be discovered. These points include globally unique attractions, which are distributed from the coastal areas to the peaks of the green mountains and within the rocky or sandy deserts. Not only geologists will love to learn more about the beautiful and amazing geology in Oman.
State of the art applications are available for free for Android and iOS and can be obtained from the relevant app stores:
International visitors or locals can explore the breathtaking geology in Oman with the support of this dedicated theme routes:
Bawshar & Al Khawd
The Bawshar and Al Khawd geotour is a convenient day trip to explore the hinterland of the capital area. This tour provides an “off the beaten track” experience yet you are never far from the city. While following the route to these hidden attractions you will feel the contrast between the vibrant city and the calm interior. You should not miss the opportunity to drive on the new Muscat Express Way as it passes through a very scenic limestone landscape.
The tour of the geological attractions in Wadi Mayh is a convenient half day trip from Muscat. A round trip can be taken by approaching Wadi Mayh from the south-west via the Quarayyat road then exiting the Wadi from the north near Al Bustan. This tour can be combined with the Al Khayran geotour as a full day trip.
Muscat / Mutrah
The Mutrah geotrek offers a peaceful walk in the heart of the capital with some great views and the fascinating story of the Oman Ophiolite. This two hour walk takes you from sea level to an elevation of around 100m. The trail can be combined with a walk to other key attractions in Mutrah, keeping you busy at least half a day. The other geoheritage features in Muscat can be inspected by vehicle to provide a broader picture of the beautiful landscape of the capital area.
A visit to Al Khayran lets you enjoy both great geology and stunning coastal scenery in a half-day tour from Muscat. Allow a full day to include additional activities such as swimming and snorkeling, or to combine this trail with the Wadi Mayh Geotourism tour.
Al Jabal Aswad & Wadi Mijlas
Allow a full day to visit the geoheritage features of Jabal Aswad and Wadi Mijlas. This geotour offers opportunities to explore the beautiful and diverse landscapes of the south eastern region of the capital area. A stopover in the city of Qurayyat with a visit to its traditional harbour and cultural attractions is a great way to end the day.
Al Hajir Mountains
This tour highlights the mountain and foothills of Al Jabal Al Akhdar. With its small villages and terraced fields nestling beneath steep cliffs, this area is renowned as the most scenically attractive in all Arabia. Here, the exposed rocks of the oceanic crust known as the Samail Ophiolite, place this region among the rarest geological heritage sites on earth.
The Al Huqf wilderness region in central east houses a high percentage of Oman’s biodiversity – flora, fauna and habitats – as well as remarkable ecosystems, combined with spectacular geology spanning 700 million years, stunning landscapes along with archaeological, ecological, historical and cultural characteristics, makes a visit to the Al Huqf an unforgettable natural heritage experience.