We visited the fascinating fish market, the souq, Old Muscat and the Grand Mosque, home to the second-largest carpet in the world ("It was the biggest until a year ago!"). But the reasons why Wanderlust readers gave the country a resounding thumbs-up at previous Travel Awards probably have more to do with the country's natural wonders - its magnificent mountains, marine life and desert.
The Hajar Mountains run for 500km, and are the highest range on the eastern Arabian Peninsula. Within a couple of hours of leaving Muscat we were snaking up a mountain road. We'd stopped to take a photo at the first of many incredible viewpoints when, oddly, I heard my name being called by a family on the way down. As so often happens when travelling, someone I knew just happened to be passing by. "That," my acquaintance enthused, "is one of the most amazing drives I've ever done."
Sure enough, the twisting road revealed stunning views at every bend. It was too hazy for decent pictures, but that was almost a relief as I could just drink in the spectacular canyons, gorges and rock formations. This whole area is developing a reputation for great climbing, trekking and other adrenalin sports - we caught a glimpse of Snake Gorge, famous for its via ferrata routes of rock-face cables and ladders.
Off the beaten path
We descended into a pretty, dry wadi (river valley), where goat herders walked their herds past the date palms - a scene unchanged for centuries. Thesiger steered clear of nearby Nizwa, a former capital of Oman, having been told it was too dangerous for him to visit. Today it is a friendly, if conservative, town dominated by its fort, perhaps the most famous of over 500 scattered throughout the country.
Nizwa's souq, with lower prices and fewer pushy salesmen than Muscat's, was full of traditional souvenirs, including khanjars, the curved daggers that appear on the national flag. Rhinos were nearly wiped out by the demand for horn handles in Oman and Yemen, and even now it is possible to buy an antique rhino-horn khanjar; I was offered one for £2,000.
That's chicken feed compared with camels, however.