You pedal your cycle to the small dwelling of a Bedouin family in the Sharqiyah Sands. Once you arrive, you take your seat on the floor, covered in mats made from traditional woven palm fronds.
“These are the people I had in mind when I set up responsibletravel.com back in 2001, with the aim to make responsible tourism — which supports local communities and protects local environments — more easily accessible to the travelling public,” said Justin Francis, managing director of the sustainable tourism site “responsibletravel.com”.
Responsible Travel matches travellers looking for more authentic, memorable holiday experiences with some of the world’s best small, local holiday companies, bringing together and marketing a wide range of holidays from around the world, all screened for their commitment to responsible tourism.
The sustainable tourism platform selected Oman as one of the best destinations for a responsible tourist. “We’ve always seen huge potential for Oman in terms of responsible tourism. As you travel into the interior the opportunity to interact with local people, and the genuine welcome tourists receive from them, is fantastic. It is this connection with local people that is at the heart of responsible tourism. We believe that if you treat local people and places fairly it pays back by the bucket-load, because well cared for locals let you get closer to their culture, their people, and their nature, which is good for them and good for you. In Oman this principle is coupled with very unique and well-preserved and cared-for natural and cultural heritage, which makes for very exciting opportunities for memorable, authentic travel experiences,” said Sarah Faith, Marketing Executive, Responsible Travel.
“There are signs that Oman is a country that is taking responsible tourism seriously. The World Responsible Tourism Awards (which we founded and organise) 2016 Longlist includes the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa for its work to protect the sea turtles that rely on its beaches for nesting and to educate guests about the importance of turtle conservation,” she said.
The company has also previously worked with the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism to put together a guide to responsible tourism in Oman, which highlights some of the most authentic, memorable ways to experience the country while supporting communities and conservation. And the best way to leave little environmental impact while getting as close to the local experience as possible is by bike or foot. “The trips we market in Oman have the distinction of giving you a real, authentic experience in the country. Each of the holidays has been screened for its commitment to responsible tourism and for its support of local communities and efforts to protect local environments,” Sarah explained. “Because of this as a tourist you are able to get closer to the people, culture, food, landscapes, wildlife, and stories of the country — to really immerse yourself in Oman in a way that a simple stay in a beach resort hotel could never allow you to do.”
Exploring the wilds of Oman never fails to evoke a sense of childlike wonder, even in seasoned travellers. Add to that the inimitable feeling of the wind in your face as you fly through majestic landscapes on your two wheeled steed, and you are in for an experience that both allows one an escape from the realities of daily life, while simultaneously connecting the traveller to something much more real, both in the world he immerses himself into, as well as in his nostalgic, open heart.
Sights and Cycles
One of the company’s popular tailor-made, five-night trekking and bicycle adventure begins with a stay at The View hotel in the Jebel Shams Mountains from which visitors trek and bike through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Overlooking Al Hamra, Bilad Sayt, and Bahla, The View is an ideal perfect base for treks into the canyons, exploring the old Bahla town wall, green plantations, lively souq, and fortress wall, a Unesco World Heritage site. In Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar, participants can head out for the W18b hike through the villages of Al Aqor, Al Ain, Sheraijah, and Sayq Village, while the cycle route winds them through the wadi landscapes of Bahla to Jabrin Castle. This trip starts at around OMR960 and includes B&B accommodation, most meals, a specialist trekking and cycling guide, and transfers throughout the trip. Most of the cycling and trekking holidays have no fixed departure date and can be customised to suit any date year-round. There are a few fixed departure trips that typically depart between January and May and October and December each year, and include a small group of eco-travellers.
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