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After a taxing first day in Wadi Mistal and Mussanah, we quickly head into the Al Hajar mountain range, which includes Oman’s highest peak Jabal Shams. These brown and rugged peaks rise into the sky like a barrier and separate the coastal plains from the desert plateaus in the west. As soon as we cross into the first Wadi, the paved street disappears abruptly at a river. We come to a stop and I wonder shortly, if this is our first shooting location. But then the drivers put the vehicles into four wheel drive and take off into the river bed, which at this time of the year, contains only a trickle of water.

Still, water splashes in all directions as our convoy makes it’s way deeper into the mountains, following the river as it winds its way through narrow valleys. Eventually, the river road ends as well and we have to cross the peaks on dry land in order to reach the little village of Al Hamra, still separated from us by a couple high and rugged peaks. The road now consists of loose gravel, and sneaks it’s way up the mountains in sharp twists and steep inclines. Everyone in the car grips the handles tightly and is secretly thankful for the metal roll cage, but our driver Said proves that he knows what he’s doing.

This is pure, unadulterated nature. As far as my eyes can see, there is not a paved road in sight, only rock, low shrubs and tiny settlements here and there, usually located conveniently near a water source with olive, fig and fruit trees growing in little clusters. I try to take photos, but the road is so rough that it shakes my brain into a pulp an makes it impossible to hold the camera steady enough. Not that taking photos out of car windows is generally a good idea anyway.

crossing the mountain range

4-wheel drive mandatory: the mountain roads in the Al Hajar mountain range.

Crossing the mountain range takes several hours and it is early afternoon when we finally make our way down towards Al Hamra in the plains below. The town is one of Oman’s better preserved traditional villages, filled with mudbrick houses, rubble-strewn winding alleyways and a green oasis below. It’s like stepping into another time and this feeling is amplified by the traditional show the locals put on for us. Sure it is staged and there are a few tourists stumbling into photos, but I enjoy this more touristic side of Oman as well, especially since it is a great chance to photograph women in traditional dresses, who are usually very unwilling to have their photo taken.

Apart from the women and children mingling in impossibly bright dresses, there are horse races through the streets and a swordfight with two men, wearing dishdashas and muzzars, circling each other with blades and conical shields.

Enjoy day 2 of Oman in Focus:

Concentration.

Concentration before the fight.

Drummers

Drummers and singers rile up the crowd for the sword fight.

oman_part2_-7

A drummer marches through the streets of Al Hamra.

Hello there horse.

Hello there, horse.

Fighting time.

Fighting time.

This girl was so incredibly beautiful, I chose her portrait as one of the three at the exhibition.

Girl in traditional clothes and jewelry.

The festival was a great opportunity to photograph women, who usually aren't very willing to get their picture taken.

The festival is a great opportunity to photograph women, who usually aren’t very willing to get their picture taken.

Girl in Al Hamra.

A girl watching the show.

Dressed up girl.

All dressed up.

Two women dressed in traditional Omani clothes

The two women are wearing the vibrant traditional dresses called sirwal and the headscarf lihaf. The whole outfit is accessorized with gold jewelry.

Old man weaving in his home.

Old man weaving palm leaves.

Another one of the photos that I used in the exhibition at the Royal Opera House in  Muscat. I love the contrast between his dark, wrinkly skin and the white beard.

An old man in the streets of Al Hamra. I love the contrast between his dark skin and the white beard.

Photographic victory on the mountain.

Photographic victory on the mountain.

The mountain Jabal Shams mountain range at dusk.

We race back to the Al Hajar mountain range at dusk and get incredibly lucky with the clouds that evening.

Obligatory goat.

Obligatory goat.

About The Author

Tiffany is a Swiss travel writer, digital nomad, and photographer, who, after a fateful journey through Africa, has decided to get her passport renewed, sell all her junk, and live out of a suitcase in various corners of the world, as well as share the experiences with other travel enthusiasts. This blog is intended to inspire you to pack your bags, leave everything behind for a while, and make you go discover the world. Check her out on .

6 Responses

  1. Corinne

    I love all your photos, and I agree it’s nice to be able to photograph the people who may not usually care for having photos done of them. Love that goat!

    Reply
  2. Paper Boat Sailor

    Beautiful photos, not to mention that I enjoy your writing too. 🙂
    Isn’t Oman such a soulful country? I live in Abu Dhabi, only a few hours’ drive from Oman, but haven’t explored it as much as I would’ve liked to. I did spend a week in the Musandam governorate and was completely charmed by it, and would highly recommend it to someone like you who clearly understands Oman’s allure. That is, if you haven’t been there already!
    Paper Boat Sailor recently posted…A Teacher Learns in JaffnaMy Profile

    Reply
    • Tiffany

      Hey thanks so much! Oman is a wonderful country, and especially great for portraits as the people are wonderful. I haven’t made it to Musandam yet, but there’s always a next time, right? Since you live in Abu Dhabi and I might have a few days there in the near future (not sure yet), are there any great photo spots you can recommend?

      Reply
      • Paper Boat Sailor

        Abu Dhabi is a bit tricky when it comes to photography laws, so exercise caution and look out for no photography signs (especially at the main beach!). But from the Corniche Road you have great views of the skyline, and if you want to capture the older face of the city, visit the fish and vegetable markets near the port. There’s also a marina where you should go if you enjoy a good sunset.
        Paper Boat Sailor recently posted…A Teacher Learns in JaffnaMy Profile

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