Have you ever slept in the desert under the stars?
How to reach the Wahiba Sands? Where to sleep and what to do for enjoying the Omani Desert?
Most of Oman is covered by desert so during the trip around the country it’s worth spending a night enjoying its rolling dunes. The Wahiba Sands is located south of Sur, and it is the most known and accessible place from Muscat and where you’ll find a good choice of desert camps to explore the area. The camps offer half-board (included in the room price), camel rides and 4WD dune-bashing drives.
We slept at Desert Wonder Camp, located only 20 minutes from Bidiya (the town at the “foot” of the desert) but surrounded by dunes and with the benefit of feeling remote. Since it is not so easy to find the road to reach the camp, we met the manager at 3 p.m. at the Oman Oil Petrol Station in Bidiya town. After deflating the tyres, we followed his vehicle through the sand path to the camp (only the last part is a bit difficult since we had to climb up a small dune at high speed not to sink into sand).
The camp was peaceful and without wifi or 4G service either. We were welcomed with tea and tasty dates before leaving the backpack inside our room. The tent was simply furnished with a twin bed and a bedside table, the toilet was outside with an open rooftop.
We booked in advance the dune-bashing trip so at 4.30 p.m. we were ready to jump in the 4WD of the camp and “rides” the big dunes of Wahiba Sands. Even though we had done it a lot of times, going on top of the dunes and bashing at high speed is always an enjoyable experience not to be missed when you are in the desert.
It feels like a roller coaster, teetering at a 45-degree angle, sliding down the sandbanks and oversteering out of control. At the end of the ride, we stopped on the top of a dune watching a fantastic sunset. Back to the camp, we had the dinner buffet; then we spent the night drinking tea around the campfire gazing at the dark sky full of bright stars.
Need to Know about the Wahiba Sands
1) How to get there
Bidiya, the town next to the area where many desert camps are situated, is 180 km from Nizwa (2.30 hr drive), 200 km from Muscat (3 hr drive) and 110 km from Sur (1.30 hr drive).
Since it is not so easy to reach some of the Desert Camps because the road is not marked, you can park your car in Bidiya and ask them to send a 4WD vehicle to bring you there. Wild camping is allowed anywhere and could be a great experience to enjoy the desert, but you have to be able to drive on the dunes.
Warning: remember to check your car insurance because the rental companies don’t cover the damage or crash on the sand paths. If you decide anyway to drive on the sand as we did, don’t be foolish and drive with care.
2) Where to sleep
We slept at Desert Wonders Camp, a lovely place surrounded by high dunes. The camp offers Bedouin-style accommodation with tents, delicious food and activities (click here to check its position on the Map).
3) Day trip from Muscat
If you are visiting only Muscat, or you are in another city in Oman, don’t worry: many agencies are offering a day trip to the Wahiba Sands.
4) Travel Insurance
Don’t forget to travel safe and get your Travel Insurance!
5) Are you looking for the best websites and companies to save money with?
Check out our Travel Resources for the best companies to use for arranging your trip!