Oman is one of the most biodiverse-rich countries in Western Asia with its mountain ranges, valleys, plains, cliffs, rocky hills and coastal areas. It is home to the magnificent green, red turtles, sharks, dolphins, whales, and prey birds such as the Egyptian vulture and the golden eagle.
99 different mammals, including some endangered species such as Arabian tahr, Arabian oryx, Arabian leopard, red fox, deer and rabbits live in the valleys and mountains of Oman. The southern region sees rodents and wolves and animals such as blue-headed lizard, aquatic snakes, Arabian toads, and bats living in the caves.
Every May, the southern coast of the Sultanate witnesses a unique phenomenon: cold, nutrient-rich sea water rushes to the edges of the rocks, providing the perfect breeding conditions for marine life.
Ras Al Hadd, Ras Al Jinz, and the island of Masirah are one of the largest nesting grounds of Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill turtles in the world and home to 30,000 turtles. Furthermore, the Bar Al-Hikman area boosts 30 square kilometers of coral reefs, making it a fertile ground for diverse marine plants and the shore is home to millions of migratory sea birds.
The rosy lakes in the state of Al-Jarz owe their color to the algae: another natural wonder of Oman.
From the coast to the desert: Advocating for sustainable tourism
Oman has a rich desert landscape ranging from golden sand dunes in the East to rocky desert of Jeddah Al-Harasis in central of Oman and the Rub’ al Khali desert in the far south. These are home to predators such as lynx, sandy foxes, wild sand cats and one of the largest deer species known as Ghazlan Al Reem.
Salalah, the capital of the Dhofar Governorate, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Arabian Peninsula for its beautiful landscape and a wide range of tropical fruits such as bananas, coconut and sugarcane. Behind the plains of the state of Salalah lie the foothills of Mount Qara, covered with frankincense trees that have made Oman famous for producing the best frankincense in the region.
The Sultanate attracts millions of tourists every year. The government is fully engaged in raising awareness about its many wonders and ensuring to safeguard its rich biodiversity. “We must strive to ensure that people visiting our country recognize the importance of the environment and preserve its natural diversity,” said Mohamed Al Toby, Oman’s Former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism.
Protecting the wildlife, and its natural habitats, and conserving biological diversity in the Sultanate is very important. It is one of the priorities that the Government has included in its five-year development plan as erosion and depletion of natural environments will result in significant loss and severe put at risk the Sultanate biodiversity.
The locals believe the beauty of nature must be preserved because it is a source of income for the country allowing tourists to discover and enjoy the unique charming nature.
Unique plant diversity
Oman has a rich floral biodiversity. The central and southern regions are among the top 35 regions in the world known for plant diversity. In the north, its flora is similar to Iran, while in the eastern region Hajar Mountains, the landscape is similar to Africa. The Sultanate has approximately 1212 species of plants, of which 87per cent are endemic or semi-endemic.
Over the past 10 years, Oman Botanic Garden has put in place the largest documented database in the Arabian Peninsula. It includes 1407 documented species. A recent study by the University of Edinburgh found that out of the 1407 species, 77 are only found in the Sultanate.
Safeguarding the natural heritage
The Sultanate is the first country in the Gulf to establish a Ministry of the Environment which led to putting in place a comprehensive law to protect the environment.
It is also the first country in the region to establish an award for the preservation of the environment, known as the Sultan Qaboos Prize.
In 2017, the French Newspaper Le Monde named the Sultanate as the best tourist destination and the World Economic Forum ranked it as the fourth safest destinations in the world.
Cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme
UN Environment is working closely with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs to strengthen the link between the environment, social and economic challenges as an integrated approach to sustainable development.
UN Environment endeavors to promote strategic partnerships with local authorities, civil society, academic community, private sector and other stakeholders to:
- preserve the unique biodiversity of the Sultanate of Oman
- manage natural resources
- link environmental, social and economic dimensions to achieve the sustainable development goals.
A moment of peace in Jaipur, Rajasthan
What made everything even better for me was the food curated by Executive chef Raj Singh. For every meal, there was a different set up in a different area.The first meal we had was in the outdoors candle lit area overlooking the rest of Kukas. This was during the wedding season so we saw firecrackers light up the sky. It was a beautiful ambience for dinner. The next day, we had breakfast by the pool where a specially curated breakfast menu was presented to us. Their pool side has many peacocks and I could spot them from my breakfast table. It was an Instagram worthy spot for food. Next up, I also had lunch on the balcony of my tented room. It was a great experience in itself.
Being a Rajasthani myself, I have often found myself wondering where I can try the best Marwari food. And not surprisingly, I have always found it in Rajasthan. The aloo dum, paneer masala, dal, batti, churma has unnervingly been the best in Rajasthan. By far, I can also vouch for having tried the best pastas, pizzas and desserts in Rajasthan considering it is now the hub of destination weddings in India. My stay at Rajasthali Resort and Spa was no less and the food was culturally representative of the heritage that I also carry within myself. Speaking of the Marwari community, I am working on a book titled, “The Culture Trap” focusing on Rajasthani culture and the Marwari community. The book should be out later in 2022. It is a great read for everyone planning to visit Rajasthan, especially those who want to know more about local culture and folklore.
Another thing I loved about Rajasthali Resort and Spa is their grand entrance gate. As soon as I reached the palace, I felt like I was entering like Rajasthani royalty itself. The grand gates and small sculptures on the way to the gate were mesmerizing. I felt teleported to another century and time. Most people don’t know this but Rajasthan has had many wars in the past, hence it has numerous forts like Nahargarh in the city. During wars, most Kings would live in tents with the best facilities, special chefs, great food, leopard skins, grand mirrors, chandeliers and everything their palace would have. Even now, the tent theme is popular at some hotels in Rajasthan and provides an exotic getaway escapade. Rajasthali Resort and Spa also has tent shaped rooms where people can stay among other properties in the region.
I also experienced some traditional architecture at City Palace and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, perhaps the two most common spots for travelers in the region. One really needs to keep their stuff safe while on a visit. Pickpockets are common and even more common are overcharging shops selling local handicrafts. Rajasthani hospitality is otherwise one of the best things anyone could ever experience.
Things to do in Jaipur
A famous activity in Rajasthan is leopard sighting. This is increasingly famous in the JAWAI regions of Jaipur. To my dismay, the safari was fully booked when I was there. I would definitely recommend you to book it in advance to avoid missing out on the experience. If you are up for visiting a monkey temple, you can even explore Galtaji Temple on the outskirts of Jaipur. It is a unique experience to be climbing on steps to get a view of a holy lake with monkeys following you around. Just don’t make eye contact. They might steal your phone or sunglasses, anything on the loose. I once lost my milk bottle as a baby and the monkeys never gave it back. Holidays indeed make up for stories of a lifetime. Rajasthali Resort and Spa, where I stayed, had some beautiful cycling tracks around. I cycled amidst nature and viewed peacocks at sunset. It was one of the most mesmerizing and detoxing experiences of my life. For all those who care, peacocks are my favorite birds. They’re magnificent, colorful and beautiful. You might even choose to venture out for a swim and trust me, it will be worth it. Swimming in the pink city with the sun soaking on your body can be more relaxing than even the best spa in the city. Being a Mumbai girl, I need some peace and quiet and gladly I found my spot in Jaipur.
What holidays are about most of all is finding ourselves. I was glad to get a moment of peace from my fast paced life in Mumbai. All I needed was a break and I finally got it close to my native town. Rajasthan is my home. It runs through my veins. “Padharo Mhare Des.” If you know, you know.
5 Culinary Delights That You Should Try When Traveling to Yogyakarta
Indonesia is a country that is always visited by tourists from various countries every year. Many foreign tourists are interested in visiting Indonesia because Indonesia has a variety of cultures and beautiful places that are scattered in various regions and are still preserved. Some of the places most frequently visited by tourists include Bali, Yogyakarta, Lombok, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Papua. In addition, in Indonesia, there are also several destinations that have been named the 7 wonders of the world, namely Komodo National Park or commonly called Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara and Borobudur Temple in Magelang (Central Java). Komodo Island, which is located in the Labuan Bajo area of East Nusa Tenggara, has many types of flora and fauna that inhabit the Komodo National Park area, making it one of the World Heritage Sites and Man and Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 1986. Then in 2013, Komodo National Park was named one of the 7 natural wonders of the world (wisato.id, n.d.). Temporary Borobudur Temple itself was once included in the 7 wonders of the world. From the Unesco.org page, this historic building from Indonesia was listed in 1995, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009. Borobudur Temple is located on the island of Java. This temple is on a hilltop which was built between 780 and 840 AD. Borobudur was built during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty (Dwi Latifatul Fajri, 2021). In addition to Borobudur temple, there are many temple buildings left over from various kingdoms. The majority of these temple buildings are found in the areas of Java and Yogyakarta.
The Yogyakarta area itself is indeed famous for the charm of the city which is rich in arts and tourist areas.This city also has the nickname as a student city because of the many universities in it. Many people visit Yogyakarta to continue their education, take vacations to enjoy natural attractions such as beaches, mountains, temples and take walks in the middle of the city such as to Malioboro and the square. And there are also tourists who visit to explore the city and learn about its culture that is still preserved. Traveling itself is an activity to visit a new area to get to know more about the area. Whether it’s in the form of tourist attractions, culture and culinary in it. Culinary in the Yogyakarta area is very diverse and tastes spicy, salty, sweet and savory. Among the many types of culinary, here are 5 culinary recommendations that must be tasted when traveling to Yogyakarta.
The first is Gudeg. This gudeg is a typical food from Yogyakarta which tends to be sweet. Gudeg is generally made from young jackfruit cooked with coconut milk and is brown in color, in addition to young jackfruit vegetables in it there are also chicken, eggs, tempeh and tofu. Although it has a fairly strong sweet taste, gudeg is usually served with krecek which has a spicy taste so it is very delicious when eaten with warm white rice. There are many gudeg sellers in Yogyakarta and they are very easy to find, from small stalls to hotel restaurants, almost always a gudeg menu in it, even some gudeg brands that have been around for a dozen years and are sought after by tourists.
Next, the second one is the culinary satay klatak. Satay klatak is made from mutton, this satay klatak is also different from satay in general. The difference is the klatak satay pieces which are usually larger and the skewers using bicycle iron bars. The term Satay Klatak comes from the sound produced when the satay is roasted. The sound of “tak…tak…tak” is produced from a splash of salt that is poured into the coals above the stove (ditwdb, 2019). In one serving of satay klatak, usually only 2 to 4 skewers will be served because the size is larger than the usual satay. In addition, sate klatak is also served with a side sauce that will be very delicious when eaten with lontong or warm white rice.
Then the third one is the culinary oseng mercon. Has a spicy taste that is quite strong, for lovers of this culinary spicy taste a must try. Made from beef fat which is processed with special spices and lots of chili in it. That’s why this dish is called mercon because of its strong spicy taste. But now oseng mercon has many variations, not only beef fat but also made from chicken. This dish is very suitable to be enjoyed at night and eaten with warm rice.
Then the fourth one is Javanese noodle culinary. Bakmi Jawa is a dish that is available in the afternoon until the evening. Bakmi Jawa is made from noodles cooked with special spices and mostly uses free-range chicken in the mix. Bakmi Jawa can be found in various places in Yogyakarta, from small traders to restaurants, almost all serving Javanese noodles. In the presentation there are 2 types of Javanese noodles, namely Javanese noodles with soup and fried Javanese noodles (without sauce). Both have a distinctive taste and are equally delicious.
The last or fifth there is culinary mangut catfish. Mangut catfish is a culinary dish that is cooked from catfish which has previously been processed by smoking or frying and then cooked with coconut and given a special seasoning that is rich in spices in it so that it produces a delicious taste. Mangut catfish usually has a savory spicy taste that will be very delicious when eaten with warm white rice.
Of the 5 recommended dishes above, the five are heavy foods that come from Yogyakarta and have a special taste of each type. The majority of food in Indonesia is enjoyed together with white rice as a carbohydrate. Because most foods are cooked with strong spices so it will be very suitable when eaten together with carbohydrates such as white rice which does not have a strong taste and does not interfere with the taste of the main dish.
With a variety of recommended culinary delights, it is hoped that in the future it can increase the interest of increasing tourist visits to Yogyakarta. Because as we know the pandemic for 2 years had made several tourist destinations closed so that tourist visits were also reduced. It is hoped that with the loosening of regulations because the pandemic is starting to subside, it is hoped that the community’s economic conditions will be restored through the tourism and culinary sectors so that the community’s economic conditions can also return to normal. As well as the government, the community and tourists who visit tourist attractions can maintain the surrounding environment so that it is not damaged and can be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren in the future.
Tips on How to Plan an Excellent African Safari from the UK
Although the holiday season is right around the corner, that does not mean you have to go around the bend from planning your family vacation.
Organizing a group getaway can be an easy and hassle-free experience. You could, for instance, opt to go on a Kenya vacation.
Having decided to go on an Africa safari from the UK, it is vital to make sure that your travel details are sorted out early enough to avoid inconveniences and undesirable outcomes.
After all, holidays are a time to unwind and let go of all the worries that bog you down on a daily basis. But how do you go about procuring the most enjoyable and thrilling holiday for you and your loved ones?
More importantly, as a Brit who has never been to Africa, how do you get the best African safari holidays from the UK?
Below are some of the most important things to consider when planning an African safari. We also give you practical insights on how to structure an excellent vacation to Kenya, the motherland of all African safaris.
Have the right travel partner
While going it alone in a foreign destination is possible, it is more prudent to rely on the guidance of a trusted professional.
Enlisting the services of a travel agent will not only give you peace of mind but it will also avail you of more favourable pricing.
Tour companies have the advantage of receiving corporate discounts from most of the industry’s service providers and they invariably pass these discounts to you.
When going on a Kenya vacation for example, no one is better placed to know what is going on in the Maasai Mara than a travel agent who specializes in Maasai Mara safaris.
The agent will be able to advise you on the best priced hotels, lodges, and camps. They will also be eligible for discounts you might otherwise not enjoy as an independent traveler.
Besides, having a tour agent means that your African safari holiday from the UK will have the benefit of a native’s expertise. You see, some of the best travel companies are those that employ native guides who know the area you visit well and will expose you to its most intimate details.
Know your travel requirements
An agent will also come in handy in letting you know more about the country’s immigration requirements.
That includes the types of vaccinations and health documents you might be required to furnish at your port of entry.
It is essential to ascertain these processes to ensure you are not caught flat footed on the day of travel.
Knowing which countries require travel visas is vital as it allows you to have these processed before you book your air tickets.
While most Kenya safari holiday safari packages are exclusive of visas and international tickets, your travel agent is at hand to render free advice on the easiest way for you to procure them.
Know the attractions
Before you commit any money to your African safari holidays from the UK, make a point of learning more about the country’s main attractions.
For example, one of the most popular tourism products in Africa are the Kenya beach and safari holiday packages.
However, these can be as diverse as humanity itself. That is because on the whole, the country has more than 40 major wildlife parks and reserves, four marine parks, and more than 15 beaches.
That tremendously opens up your range of vacation places in Kenya and means that your Kenya safari holiday package may include any combination of destinations.
Knowing what different parks offer, their location, and the activities likely to be found there will prove helpful when structuring your itinerary.
Again, the services of a professional travel agent in this regard cannot be overstated. The agent will inform you about which parks are close to each other, which attractions offer certain activities, and tell you the best time of the year to visit particular areas.
A Kenya vacation to the Maasai Mara for instance is best during the July-October season, when the country is dry and the reserve has plenty of animals.
It is also the time when the annual wildebeest migration occurs, meaning your family will be able to witness the overland migration of more than two million wild animals from the Serengeti to Maasai Mara.
Touring the park may be done through various ways, including game drives, hot air balloon rides, or even walking safaris.
During this season, enjoying your Kenya beach and safari holiday packages is also easier as the beaches enjoy sunny days thanks to the dry weather.
Visitors interested in heritage and cultural tours also have plenty to choose from, such as visits to cultural museums, indigenous villages, ancient ruins, and old towns.
While looking into the different attractions, please also bear in mind your family members’ areas of interest and what would appeal to them. That ensures that every member of your travel party enjoys a splendid vacation and lifelong memories they will treasure.
Lastly, find out how much the entire safari costs and what it includes. That information will enable you to budget accordingly.
Typically, most safari providers will have pre-structured safari deals with fixed prices.
However, some Kenya safari holiday packages allow you to customize your safari experience by cherry picking the activities you want to be included in your itinerary.
If you opt for a custom Kenya safari holiday package, your agent will inform you how much it will cost based on the vacation places in Kenya that you wish to visit. The cost is also influenced by the safari vehicle you choose to use.
For luxury holidays, 4×4 safari vehicles such as the safari land cruiser are used. The budget alternative for a true safari vehicle is the safari van. Smaller vehehicles such as Mazda Axela, Nissan Note, Toyota Premio, and Mazda Demio are often used for transfers.
That allows you to shop around for the best priced safari packages in the market and picking the one you feel most reflects your desired holiday.
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