Top critical review
14 people found this helpful
Not totally useless, but...
on 19 September 2007
I would echo Ms/Mr László's comments. While I'm aware that all guidebooks have their limitations, this guide (the first Bradt one I've used) is the first to have left me not just dissatisfied with the book but disappointed with the holiday as a whole. Of course, I take my share of the blame for that; but if you do rely on this book as your sole source of information, you'll end up finding Oman rather staid.
Even travelling with a car (which I did), more or less anywhere between Muscat and Salalah seemingly doesn't exist as far as the book is concerned. Taking the book at face value, we attempted the North-South coast road marked on the map: a wasted 500km later, we felt it might have been useful if tarmac and non-tarmac roads were differentiated; if the town of Duqm - marked on the map as equivalent to Salalah - had even a sentence of information stating that there is nothing there but a handful of houses and tents; if the intriguing 'purple lagoon', which turned out to be (and I'm not geologist) a smattering of caked salt just off the sea, had any information given other than a marking as a 'site of interest' on the map. We also almost missed a rather wonderful hill village (whose name I shamefully forget) not far from Nizwa, because the book (which I bought purely because it had been published, apparently, a month before my trip) warned us off it as it had only a dirt track. In fact, this rare piece of road information turned out to be wrong, and the road was perfectly tarmac-ed. Fortunately, our faith in the book had by now been removed completely.
I ramble, but seemingly this book is designed not only for wealthy car-driving tourists, but for those with an interest only in pre-packaged tourist sites, in urban areas, and most certainly not anything off the Muscat-Coast-Fort-Salalah beaten track. It felt as if various things had been marked on the map and/or given a cursory description - the poorly described Shisr being another example - without the author having been there or even researched the place in question. Perhaps even more damningly, given that not everyone wants to trek off into the wilderness, the book is riddled with inaccuracies (the Yemen border issue mentioned in the aforementioned review being another one, and an experience I've lost because the book put me off attempting it), and has only the sketchiest of practical detail. Thankfully, the Omani people are indeed as friendly and forthcoming as the author (repeatedly, as if with nothing else to say) asserts, and saved me from death in the desert/by tedium of shopping mall.