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Duration: 10 DAYS TOUR
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BEACH, MOUNTAIN, DESERT & CAMPING TOUR

 

DAY 01 ARRIVE IN MUSCAT; AFTERNOON MUSCAT SIGHTSEEING TOUR

Arrive in Muscat and join the tour at the hotel. Muscat is an old walled town, arguably the Gulf’s most attractive city, surrounded by a horseshoe ring of mountains that naturally restricts its growth. The seaward face of Muscat is dominated by the Portuguese fortresses of Merani and Jalali (built in 1587) with their crenelated parapets. The city displays intermingling ancient cultural heritage and modern style; you will see houses, gates, old markets, small shops and winding roads redolent of authentic history, side by side with modern markets, shops, buildings and streets stamped with modern architecture. This allows Oman to preserve its historic character and at the same time enjoy its contemporary spirit. Muscat is renowned as one of the cleanest Arab capitals and has gained the honour of winning the Cleanest Arab City Contest several consecutive times. In the afternoon we will take a guided tour of Muscat including visiting the Bait Baranda Museum. We will also have the chance to take a stroll along the waterfront of Mutrah, Muscat’s oldest quarter and onto the bustling souk.

DAY 02 DRIVE TO FINNS BEACH VIA WADI TIWI

Before leaving Muscat we will visit the Grand Mosque. We then follow the coast down to Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi. A beautiful oasis of freshwater pools, Wadi Shab is an ideal place to stop for a photo. We will then visit Wadi Tiwi where there is the option to walk in the wadi, following the pools up through a haven of lush vegetation and palms, before heading to our camp at Finns Beach for an opportunity to swim and a night under the clear Arabian sky.

 DAY 03 DRIVE TO QAHID VIA SUR

Continuing to follow the rugged coastline south we head for Qahid, pausing en-route to visit the Port of Sur . Once a major trading port with East Africa, Sur represents the seafaring origins of Oman. We will visit the dhow ship building yard where traditional dhow boats, used throughout the 19th century, are still built today . We also visit the nearby small fishing village at Ayega, now a quiet community of old merchant houses, but once a stronghold of rebellious sheikhs. The desert coast of Oman is wild, rugged and beautiful; a place where deserted white beaches are interspersed with small, traditional villages. As we journey along the coast, the Wahiba Sands start to rise in front of us, a vast sea of sand covering about 15,000 square kilometres.

DAY 04 DRIVE INTO WAHIBA SANDS.

Breaking camp this morning we leave the coast behind us and drive deep into the heart of the shifting sands of Wahiba. Laid out before us like a great ocean of sand the endless dunes, some rising to 100 metres in height, are generally rusty red at the base and honey coloured on the top – an alluring landscape of changing contours and colours. The sands are home to the Bedu, nomadic tribesmen who roam the land with goats and camels, or live in small fishing villages. An exhilarating drive across the dunes brings us to our nightstop in the Wahiba Sands. Sunset promises stunning photo opportunities amidst the spectacular dunes, before we settle down for another night under the desert sky.

DAY 05 DRIVE ACROSS WAHIBA SANDS AND ONTO NIZWA.

Early mornings in the desert are a time of activity . Mists are a curious phenomena of the sands, spreading across the dunes and wadis at night, to disappear in the early mornings. The remarkable dew drinking beetle, living just below the surface of the normally scorching sands, utilizes this time to gain valuable sustenance. Just before sunrise it burrows to the surface, creating ridges in the sand to collect the dew from the rapidly disappearing mists. We continue through the desert this morning. In spite of its barren feel the sands contain a phenomenal amount of life. As well as the Bedu they are home to an exotic diversity of fauna including dragonflies, wolf, two species of Ruppell’s fox, wild cats and white-tailed mongooses. Some 115 species of birds have also been recorded here and it is one of the few remaining refuges for the elusive Arabian and Sand Gazelles. Once out of the sands we continue through a market town that is a meeting point for Bedouin for miles around. From here it is a fairly easy drive along tarmac roads to Nizwa, the capital of Oman from 751 to 1154 AD and still regarded as the cultural capital.

DAY 06.IN NIZWA; VISIT NIZWA FORT AND JEBEL SHAMS  VIEW POINT

We spend a full day exploring some of the many highlights of the surrounding area. We begin in Nizwa itself, visiting the traditional and modern souk. We continue onto the 17th century fort, built to guard the Sumail Gap during the struggle between the Sultan and the radical Imams. Nizwa was the center of Imam resistance right up until the 1950s when the Sultan had to call upon the help of the British to quell the rebels. Heading north we travel through the mountains, passing the dramatic craggy peaks of the Jebel Akhdar (‘Green Mountain’) range, the highest mountain range in Oman. Despite its desolate and barren nature, small settlements cling to the plateau areas, nestling in the lunar like landscape. For thousands of years self-sufficient oases have flourished in the folds of rocks, using an ancient irrigation system known as falaj. These are water channels that never dry up, often contoured round wadis or tunneled through the cliffs in order to tap the water table. Upkeep of the life-giving falaj is a community responsibility and contributes to maintaining harmony within a village. We stop en route to view the Al Hamra mountain range; at 3,000m, Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun) is the highest peak in Oman. Along the track to the summit of Jebel Shams, we encounter an astonishing view down a sheer drop of 1000m to the bottom of the ‘Grand Canyon’, Oman’s very own (and equally spectacular) version of its American counterpart; at the bottom of this vast void, a wadi winds peacefully through the landscape. According to one theory, the canyon was once a huge cave and evidence of fossils and shells suggests that the canyon base was at one time covered by a shallow sea. Finally we call in for a photo stop at the eerie ruined village of Tanuf, destroyed during the Jabal war and where a famous brand of mineral water is now drawn and bottled. We return to Nizwa late in the afternoon.

DAY 07. DRIVE VIA WADI BANI AWF TO MUSCAT TO BOARD DHOW

Our route back to Muscat is through the stunning Wadi Bani Awf. We once again leave the smooth roads behind, and head into a narrow canyon with steep sided cliffs. The palm trees, scattered dwellings and interrupted streams create a peaceful atmosphere. We head back to Muscat where we board the Dhow for our sunset cruise and overnight experience on this timeless vessel.

DAY 08 ON BOARD DHOW; AFTERNOON RETURN TO MUSCAT

This morning there will be a possibility to snorkel or swim off the Dhow, enjoy some of the Marine life that this area is well known for before we return to Muscat and check into our hotel. The afternoon is left free for you to enjoy the remainder of your time in Oman.

DAY 09 BACK TO MUSCAT

 Tour ends in Muscat after breakfast.