We finally reached amazing red desert in Oman – Wahiba sands. This place is incredible but in this post I would like to provide some useful travel tips.
First of all we were solo travelers. And this is not too popular in Oman. Maybe that’s why I did not find enough useful tips for solo traveling to Wahiba sands, the great desert in central Oman. As I wrote in my previous post we hired a car with a driver to take us to Wahiba sands. This was very expensive as we drove from Nizwa. We booked the cheapest camp in Wahiba desert – Al Raha Camp, as we just needed to overnight. The most important was discovering magnificent red desert and lying under a night sky.
Wahiba Desert Camps.
There are few luxury Camps in Wahiba Desert. Most camps offer a pick up service from the edge of the desert if you do not have a 4WD car. Al Raha Camp did not offer this. We visited few of them and 1000 nights Camp is really nice but above our budget! 🙂 When we reached Al Raha camp it turned out we are the only guests. It meant we have no possibility to get a transport to come back next day. It took us all day to reach the desert and a lot of money but finally we decided to spend a night in nearest city – Bidiyah and maybe think of coming back the next day. On the next day we asked about trip prices and it was too expensive for us. We were discouraged and finally decided to travel to Sur. It was one of the most amazing travels in Oman.;) The hotel receptionist in Bidiyah told us that 1 km from the hotel there’s a local taxi station. It means that you can pay small amount of money to someone driving to Sur in private. It was amazingly cheap – 3 Rial per person to get from Bidiyah to Sur. The local driver must have been vary old. Just like his car. He immediately found another two guys to travel with us, so probably we were sponsoring the hole trip for them. 🙂 It was incredible – we were driving in the middle of Oman in a private car, with absolutely strange people, speaking no word in English. Anyway the Omani guy was very friendly, he kept asking us is everything OK?? He dropped us in front of our hotel in Sur. Few days later we were again visiting Wahiba sands from Sur.
Driving to Wahiba desert.
From the beginning I thought about renting a car but all people told us it’s very dangerous and you need to be really a good driver. From today’s perspective I cannot believe I haven’t rented that car. I’m quite well trained in offroad driving and I would definitely manage to drive through the desert. I was also a little bit scared to get lost. Generally it’s much more simple than you can imagine. The easiest entrances are at Bidiyah Castle (24km gravdel road and then sand tracks). The are also road signs or you can ask anyone about the direction. The sandy road is not that difficult unless you ship the main track. The road is quite flat, hard and easy to see because of car trails.
Apart from the touristic camp, there are no permanent settlements, only Bedouin temporary camps. Nasser told us (read A Friend from Sur) that taking pictures is forbidden on the section when entering the desert until the first desert camp. It prevents people from taking pictures of the interior of Bedouin’s houses. Sometimes when you climb the dunes it’s possible to see the interior of the house. Taking pictures of it it’s absolutely unacceptable in Arabic culture.
Driving through the desert you can see many camels walking along the road. We immediately jumped off the car to touch them and make some pictures. They are so friendly and soft. I could not stop hugging them. We also saw white camels. Said told us that white camels are special. We asked why they are special?? The answer was: Because they are white! Anyway there are no wild camels in Oman. They are too expensive and valuable for people. Unfortunately you can also see a lot of camels kept in the desert enclosed with a wire fence.
Wild camping in the desert.
Driving with Said we wanted to do wild camping in the desert. He said it’s very dangerous to settle in the flat areas. A lot of blogs say that it’s possible anywhere in Wahiba sands. Yes it is possible but please watch for local offroad drivers . When we were driving through the desert a lot of reach local residents organized offroads in their jeeps and quads. You can that see it on my pictures. And now imagine you are camping somewhere and they drive through the desert in the night. It really might be dangerous.
Sunset over the sand dunes!
It’s probably one of the best things I’ve seen in my life. The desert is a magic place. There’s incredible silence I couldn’t imagine before. This time we took our time to climb the dunes and watch the golden sunset. In March 2016 there was so much rain that a lot of bushes grown in Wahiba desert. Some guides that brought tourists to Wahiba sands were called liars because the desert was green 🙂 and nobody believed that this is the right desert. 🙂
Bedouins in Wahiba sands.
Before that we were visiting one of the Bedouin house. The families are very friendly. They invite us to show the interior of the house. It’s nice if you buy a small thing from them. The name Bedouin is derived from Arabic word Badoo, which means the beginning. Bedouins live with a strong relation with their land and animals. They live in the desert in colder months. In summer when the temperatures increase up to 50 degrees they move to live in the city.