Getting around Oman was gonna be a challange. Most of the places worth visiting are located in rural areas and public transport is hardly excisting. Still I didn’t want the difficulties to stop me from going there. I’d have to leave my comfort zone again to get all out of trip. Hitchhiking in Oman happened to be the easiest way to get around.
When I booked my flights I had no clue if I’d manage to visit the places I wanted outside the capital city Muscat. The research taught me that public transport is scarce. I read about one bus that at least passed those places, but it wasn’t clear if I could easily get off and moving on to the next destination may be a problem. Unlike Central Asia last summer, I couldn’t find information of visiting those sites without renting your own vehicle. The latter was no option for me, as I do not own a license.
Oman is a beautiful country, located in the Middle East. Despite bordering Yemen and all the other trouble in the Middle East, Oman is completely safe. It’s home to many wadis (canyons), sand dunes and other natural wonders. A countryside too beautiful to miss out. So before I booked the tickets to Oman I set myself the goal to travel by hitchhiking in Oman.
Hitchhiking in Oman would make me leave my comfort zone again. Although people often tell me how well travelled I am, I had never hitchhiked before. Sometimes, I intended to do so, but either chose the easy way and took a bus in order to save time or I got a ride offered by strangers before I even tried to flag down a car.
The first days in the Middle East, in Kuwait and Muscat, I noticed that most of the stereotypes that are propagated in the West were untrue, which is actually the fact in every non Western destination I visit. All the locals were extremely friendly and curious. Most of them spoke some English as well, which made it much easier to communicate. I felt totally comfortable and the weather was lovely, so I decided to give hitchhiking a go.
Muscat is basically just a combination of a few small cities. As a result, the distances from one place to another in Muscat can easily be 20 kilometer. There are frequent shared taxis, but they run only one route, connecting the different ‘cities’, and don’t get you to all the locations you’d like to visit.
Before I’d hitch a few hundred kilometer to visit the countryside, I decided to hitch a ride from Qurm to Muttrah. It took 5-10 minutes at the highway ramp before a car stopped and took me for this short ride.
The next day I found myself at the begin of the highway that leads to the city of Sur. It didn’t take long before the first car stopped. They weren’t going in the same direction as I did and considering the long distance, they adviced me to go back to the bus station to find a bus that headed in that direction. So did a few others. I got the feeling they were willing to help me, but weren’t aware of the concept of hitchhiking.
All together it didn’t last more than 15 minutes before an Indian truck driver took me for the first bit. After all, this was the hardest ride to find. When I got out of the lorry and walked back to the highway to find a connection ride, a car would stop WITHIN A MINUTE every time. I needed two more rides before I reached Wadi Shab, one of my destinations this day.
Except the first ride, all drivers were Omani. They were either dressed in the traditional Omani clothes or according to the global standard. Most of them spoke English very well and were happy to have a conversation. The one that didn’t speak English, talked away the whole ride anyway.
Hitchhiking in Oman, the best way to get around
I didn’t know hitchhiking could be so easy and so much fun. I do realise that the people in the Middle East have more curiousity towards me than the citizens of most other countries, which made it easier to find a ride. Still, it’s something I’d like to try more often, even if it means that I need to wait longer to find a ride. Hitchhiking in Oman is probably not only the easiest way to get around Oman if you don’t own a car, Hitchhiking in Oman is most likely also the most fun way to see more of the country.