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Into the Mountains: Day One – Nizwa & Co.

Nizwa mosque; from the fort tower

I don't know why, but I'd driven through Nizwa to get to Jebel Shams and beyond a couple of times, but hadn't stopped. Very much like my travels past Quriyat until I decided to stop and bumble around. Thankfully, this time we'd factored it into our trip.

We arrived just after 11am, when the food markets had packed up for the day. Not a big deal, but would have been nice to walk around and see the traditional stalls. There was still the overwhelming smell of spices and fish though to really make you turn around and head for the door again. We decided to look around the rest of the souk before heading into the fort. I've been on the hunt for an antique Khanjar, but not had the chance to really talk to the sellers about them. We found a small shop in the Nizwa souk selling antique jewellery and khanjars so I had a closer look at them and realised that day what you get for your money! Quite expensive, but quite exquisite in their design. More research to be done and a bit of local knowledge on what I should be looking for.

Safety of Nizwa Fort in the heat of the day

We moved onto Nizwa fort, in pride of position overlooking the town and the mountains looming on the skyline. It's the most restored fort that I've visited so far and the largest outlook tower situated at the heart of the fort. Beautifully presented, and a great place to see the rest of the valley from atop. Given it was November, it was still a bit of a heat trap in the fort and shade was a bit of a rarity once a group of German tourists arrived!

We were heading, ultimately, for The View, a luxury camping hotel perched up above the historic town of Hamra. But first, we took a diversion to Wadi Tanuf and the old ruined town at the head of the wadi. I wondered through the deserted, crumbling remains of some of the alleyways between buildings, where there were still small shelves built into the walls of the houses that must have supported spices or coffee pots back when this was a lively village. We stopped half way down the wadi for lunch, where some inquisitive goats finally found some lunch in our scraps of fruit we tossed to them. There are some small off shoots from the wadi for walks that looked interesting, but hopefully I'd get to visit them another day as we were on a time schedule to reach The View before sunset. At the end of the road through the wadi was a small path leading to a village with palms and terraces. It still astounds me that so many villages exist, tucked away in wadis and in the mountains, relatively cut off.

Hamra town from The View

We couldn't venture too much further so we started off for Wadi an Nakhur, which we visited when we walked up Jebel Shams, but it was a must see for the parents. We tried bartering down the children stood at a road side stall for one of their goat hair carpets, but they had been trained well and we walked away with our pride (if only we'd agreed 2 rials more! But we're British, and stubborn). Next time I'm there, I'll try again.

Final stop, a drive through Hamra to The View. Resting on the hillside with a fantastic panoramic view of the valley, we settled for coffee with the sunset. Made it just in time.

Just in time for sunset over the mountains

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