5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE DRIVING IN OMAN
Here’s a look at the top 5 things to know before driving in Oman.
Don’t assume because you have a 4WD vehicle, you’ll have free reign to do and go as you please. Getting off the pavement? Be sure to read the fine print of your rental agreement. Your extra adventure may actually be prohibited and you risk voiding your car hire insurance!
The roads are nice (a lot of them brand new) and things were pretty well sign-posted. The signs tend to be in both Arabic and English and anything worth seeing can be identified by the brown tourist-specific signs dotted along the roads
You can put your destination in but don’t expect it to give you voice directions as you go. The blue dot representing your location will be visible as will be the map that you downloaded. Your mission should you choose to accept it? Keep them aligned. You’ll have plenty of signed to guide you so It really isn’t an issue.
One thing I would recommend is paying attention to areas where you need to make a turn or an exit. The interstates are long and sometimes these exits are spread far apart. If you miss your exit you may just end up driving another half hour until the next exit for you to turn around.
Interested in entering Wadi Bani Awf to check out the town of Balad Sayt or explore Snake Canyon? There isn’t a police check point, but you’ll need a 4WD. Making your way up to Jebel Shams to see Oman’s version of the Grand Canyon? The first 20km of the ascent is paved and the last 10k is windy, dirt paths. We saw 2WDs driving this – but slowly and in low gear. I’d say take the guessing game out of the equation and just get yourself a 4WD.
Planning on heading to Wahiba Sands? Driving in the desert can be fun and is one of the top adventures in the area. If you are staying at a desert camp and making the initial drive into the desert yourself, you’ll need to deflate your tires. Lowering the pressure helps expand the surface area of the tire as you drive, improving the traction and helps keep you from getting stuck.
Look to the manufacturers manual to determine the ppi level to reduce tires to. General rule of thumb is 18ppi and no lower than 15ppi. Just don’t forget to pump those tires back up when you are done – it’s dangerous to drive with deflated tired on paved roads. Gas stations are a dime a dozen in the area – all of which have free to use (and automatic) air pumps.
//WATCH FOR SPEED CAMERAS
There is no real thinking that is involved and if you are like me, you got lost into a sea of thoughts. Or in the case of Oman, you can get easily distracted by the surrounding natural beauty. Guess what happens? You stop thinking about the speed and next thing you know a bright flash startles you. Yup. You guessed it. That was a speed camera, and you mind friend area leaving Oman with a speeding ticket.
Our 4WD was (annoyingly) fitted with a device that caused the car to beep if we exceed 120km/hour. I am pretty sure it’s what helped prevent me from leaving with speeding tickets. There are some pretty harsh consequences of speeding which include hefty fines and even jail time.
Keep your eyes peeled, follow the speed limits and you will be fine. If you have been blitzed but the radar, expect a letter from your car hire company upon your return.
//EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Also keep your eyes peeled for random animals crossing the roads. Over the course of our trip we came across quite a few camels, had to make way for meandering donkeys and dodged quite a few skiddish goats. Just be aware that you can expect these guys to sometimes appear on the main interstates as well. Certainly not where I expect to see wildlife back home.
You’ll notice signage near wadi crossings that help indicate how high the water along the road. Just because you have a 4X4 doesn’t mean it can go everywhere. Water too high? Don’t even think about driving through it.
It is also common for visitors to base themselves in Muscat and book a variety of organised day trips with their accommodation. The latter means that you spend a lot of time in the car with minimal time at each site – but it can be done and is a great way of seeing snippets of the country without the driving.
If you are still deciding whether or not driving in Oman is for you, be sure to check out my Ultimate Oman Road Trip Itinerary to get a closer look at what there is to see along the way.