After few days of traveling in Oman around Muscat /the capital/, Sur and magic Nizwa town we have finally reached amazing red desert in Oman – Wahiba sands. This place is stunning and you absolutely can’t miss it. Here are some usefull information and tips how to get there and spend a night in desert camps under the most incredible starry.
Me and my friend Lya were freestyle solo travelers in Oman and this is not too popular way of traveling in this country and probably not the easiest comparing to Asia or even Soith America.. I didn’t find too many useful tips for solo traveling to Wahiba sands. We previously hired a car with a driver to take us to Wahiba sands /hiring a car is probably most popular and comfortable, and for some parts withing the country the only way of traveling in Oman/. Unfortunately this transportation is very expensive and additionally we drove from Nizwa to get to Wahiba Sands. We booked the cheapest camp in Wahiba desert – Al Raha Camp /which is not cheap at all!!/. This is a must in Oman – spend a night at the desert to admire magnificent red desert during sunset and lie under the sky evening time to watch trillion of stars!
Wahiba Desert Night Camps and Resorts.
There are few luxury night Camps in Wahiba Desert with prices reaching up to 450 Euro per night! Most camps offer a pick up service from the suburb of the desert if you do not have a 4WD car. Al Raha Camp did not offer pick up but the camp price was much cheaper! We visited few of them and 1000 nights Camp /very popular online/ was really nice but way above our budget! 🙂 When we reached Al Raha camp it turned out we are the only guests. It meant we have no transportation to come back to the city the next day. It took us all day and a lot of money to reach this place but finally we decided to spend a night in the nearest city – Bidiyah, thinking of coming back to the desert the next day and figure out plan B 😉 The next day we asked at the reception about organized trips to desert but it was too expensive for us. We were discouraged and finally decided to travel back to Sur. It was one of the most amazing travel destinations we had in Oman!! Great hotel staff, always eager to help 😉 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 money to a driver /whoever he is/! to drive back to Sur in a private car. It was amazingly cheap – 3 Rial per person to get from Bidiyah to Sur. But of course someone need to tell you this, as it is impossible to ficgure out there is such possibility with local drivers. 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 whole trip but who cared! 🙂 The drive was incredible – we were driving somewhere in Oman in a private car, with absolute strangers but good people, who spoke absolutely no English! Anyway the Omani guy was very friendly, he kept asking us OK?? OK?? He dropped us exactly in front of our hotel in Sur. Few days later we were visiting Wahiba sands again but from Sur with our lovely friend from the hotel – Nasser!
Driving to Wahiba desert.
On the beginning I thought about renting a car but all people told us it’s very dangerous and you need to be a really good driver to go to the desert. Today I cannot believe I haven’t rented a car. I’m quite well trained in offroad driving and I would definitely manage driving through the desert. I was also a little scared to get lost but actually the road is pretty visible and it is impossible to loose a track. Generally it’s much more simple than you can imagine. So if you feel pretty comfortable driving jeep cars it is DOABLE! The easiest entrance to access the desert are at Bidiyah Castle (24km gravel road and after sandy tracks). The are also road signs to Wahiba Desert or you can anytime ask anyone for direction to Wahiba Desert. The sandy road is not that difficult unless you skip the main track 😉 The road is quite flat, hard and easy, just follow car trails.
Apart from the touristic camps, there are no permanent settlements, only Bedouin temporary camps. Nasser told us that taking pictures is forbidden from the moment you enter the desert section until the camp location. It protects local 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. Generally taking pictures Bedouins is 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 take some pictures. They are so friendly and soft! couldn’t stop hugging them. We also saw white camels. Said – another friend told us that white camels are very special. We asked why are they special?? The answered: Because they are white!! 😉 Anyway there are no more wild camels in Oman. They are too expensive and valuable so even they are walking freely, they still have an owner. Unfortunately you can also see a lot of camels kept in the desert section surrounded by a wire fence.
Wild camping in Wahiba desert.
While driving with Said we wanted to do wild camping in the desert. Unfortunatley he said it’s very dangerous to camp in a flat desert area. A lot of blogs say that it’s possible to camp anywhere in Wahiba sands. Yes it is possible but be aware of local offroad drivers. While we were driving through the desert a lot of local reach residents organize regularly jeep and quad offroads. Check photos. Now, imagine you are camping somewhere while they drive full speed through the desert in the night.
Sunset over the Wahiba sand dunes!
It’s probably one of the best things I’ve seen in my life. Red desert is a magic place. I have never experienced such silence. We spent hours climbing sand dunes, watching huge red sunset and walking barefoot on warm, velvet sand. In March 2016 there was so much rain in the desert, that we could see green bushes growing in Wahiba desert! Nasser told us that once a local guide brought tourists and a professional photographer to Wahiba sands to take photos. He was called a liar because the desert was all covered in green bushes 🙂 nobody wanted to believe that this is the famous red Wahiba Sands desert. 🙂
Bedouins in Wahiba sands.
There are Bedouins houses in the desert. Visiting one of them was a very nice experience. The families are very friendly. They invited us to show the interior of the house. It’s nice if you buy a small thing from them but it’s not required. 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.