Muscat is known as the secret jewel of the Middle East. It is nestled in the slopes between the mountains and the limpid Arabian Sea; a safe and splendid anchorage amongst a people with a long cultural tradition of hospitality.
October is the best time to visit, not least because of the affordable luxury special offer from the City Seasons Hotel Muscat. If you stay two nights you get an upgrade to a superior room and a huge bed. This is the perfect launchpad from which to begin a Muscat odyssey of the night.
The Mutrah Souq is a jewel in the Muscat crown; a labrynth of alleyways and shops that are open at night. Drinking coffee and smoking shisha here is more tempting than alcohol in a bar. Then you can wander around and haggle over antiques, silver, gold and jewellery.
But to see the most dazzling jewels of Oman, you need to escape the city and its unregulated ambient light. Only then can you experience some of the most spectacular night skies anywhere in the world.
The Desert Night Camp is in an isolated and magical spot in the sand dunes. You can watch the sunset sitting on top of a camel and then settle by the campfire for existential contemplation of the universe, over a traditional Omani Lamb barbeque, “Shuwa”.
Don’t forget to bring a pocket sky atlas, or download an app, like Skyview Free, so you can navigate your way to Venus or Mars. The camp has its own telescope. At this time of year you can see seven planets, shooting stars, the double cluster in Perseus and the bright iridium flare of Cassiopea.
Last year Muscat hosted a workshop on Astrophotography, the first of its kind in Oman, led by an award-winning photographer for the National Geographic magazine, Babak A Tafreshi. He calls the night sky his “second home”. He is the founder and leader of The World at Night programme, which tries to reconnect people with the night sky. From Muscat we can find our place in the universe!
You only have to leave the shores of Muscat and venture out into the Arabian Sea, where the stars have guided ships for centuries, to find spectacular dark skies. Take a traditional wooden handcrafted Dhow fishing boat to watch the magnificent sunset whilst catching lobster.
Or charter a yacht and see the moon rise. If you stay awake you’ll be rewarded with unsurpassed night skies until the sunrise melts over the water.
Deepest blackest outerspace leaves its lasting inprint on the memory; Arcturus glowing orange, Capella yellow and Vega eye piercing ice blue, shining bright like a diamond.
© Luxury Boutique Collections -2017