So, you like wild camping, desert dune bashing, wildlife spotting, desolate white sandy beaches with pristine blue water and are put off by crowds of tourists? Then Oman should definitely be on your bucket list. We packed some basic camping equipment and booked a flight to Oman last November. Being one of the least populated countries in the world and a wild camping allowed policy, this looked like a very promising destination. Also, a 30° C average daytime temperature made the decision to go very easy.
Spectacular views while driving, the best way to explore Oman is by car. The best destinations can only be reached by 4×4.
Under the governance of sultan Qaboos the country has developed quickly since 1970, thanks to oil reserves. Omani are good humoured people, very polite and -as they’re very proud of their country- always ready to help you out. For example, when we were loading up our gear into the Toyota Landcruiser in the hotel parking an Omani asked me what my plans were. “We want to drive through deserts and go camping” I answered. Then he proposed to give me a lesson in dune-bashing, the national sport in Oman. Dune bashing is driving your 4×4 as hard as you can over the dunes in the desert, a lot of fun but you need some skills for that. He took us to an offroad training park near the city of Muscat where he thaught me the necessary tricks. All free of charge, just for the fun of it. And man, die we have fun “dune-bashing”!
Camel watching in the desert
Camels everywhere, funny creatures.
First ambition on this trip was to cross the Wahiba Sands, a spectacular dune desert crossing in Bedu country. Highly recommended but don’t go alone if you’re not well prepared. We had prepared the route very well and brought satellite emergency beacons, plenty of water, recovery gear and navigation equipment. People have died here…It’s best to travel with a guide or with a convoy. But we did go alone, of course…
Crossing the Wahiba Sands
Wild camping is a joy here, just pick a spot on any beach. Don’t worry, Oman must be one of the safest countries in the world.
Next destination was Masirah island, this small island is a sanctuary for many species of turtles.It can be reached via a ferry and is a paradise for birdwatchers. Egyptian vultures, Ospreys, King Fishers, Swift Terns, Crested larks, Herons, the list goes on…Wild camping is only allowed on the west coast because the turtles nest on the east side of the island. Best thing is, there are very few people on the island. However tourism in Oman is developing quickly. Go now, it won’t be the same in 5 years from now.
A Desert Wheateater posing on a vertebra of something big 😉
An Egyptian Vulture at Masirah island
A late night walk resulted in these pictures:
A Deathstalker scorpion, it’s venom is extremely poisonous and contains neurotoxins which are used in diabetes and cancer research. We found 4 around our camping site in the desert.
Food and petrol are very cheap in Oman. Everything else is expensive. Don’t expect to find any budget hotels. Who needs fancy hotels anyway, when you can go camping and watch the sunset in front of your tent.
Sunset near the Arabian Oryx sanctuary. The park was the first site ever to be deleted from the Unesco‘s world heritage list. Home of Arabian Oryx and Gazelles this park suffered from poaching and mismanagement. The size of the park has now been reduced by 90% to protect the remaining population.
The only old car in Oman. Every Omani drives a new car.
Having spend 12 days of camping we returned to the capital Muscat, where visited the palace of Sultan Qaboos. This turned out to be a magnificent jewel of contemporary Arabian architecture.
Muscat, near the Sultan Qaboos’s palace.
Magnificent contemporary Arabian architecture, near the Palace of Sultan Qaboos in Muscat
Keep exploring x+