Overview The Sultanate of Oman has long captured the imagination of desert lovers. Under the guidance of our Arabian hosts, this desert discovery follows ancient trails of nomadic tribes and desert explorers. Arriving into the colourful city of Muscat, we visit the lively souks and fish markets before joining the Mutrah Trail to enjoy panoramic views of Muscat’s ancient port. Journeying south, we visit Wadi Shab and it’s swimmer’s cave before driving onwards to the Wahiba Sands, home to the Al-Wahiba Bedouin. Our well-paced desert exploration crosses unbroken dunes, some of them up to 100m high. When the sun is high we stop to enjoy the tranquillity of the desert environment before following ancient trading routes to our desert camps and enjoy hot sweet tea the Omani way! Continuing our desert tracks we arrive at the white sugar dunes of Khaluf which roll down to the Indian Ocean where we hope to encounter the local Bedu fishermen, trading their catch of the day. Leaving the magic of the desert, we head for the former, ancient capital, Nizwa and explore the old fort or if you so wish, barter with local silversmiths in the Souk. With its renowned Arabian hospitality and dramatic desert environments, Oman is a welcoming destination for the intrepid traveller. Highlights 4 nights Standard Hotel 3 nights Basic Tented Camp Max altitude – 2000 metres MEAL PLAN: All breakfasts 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners included Itinerary Day 1:Arrive in Muscat Arrive in Muscat at the hotel in Muscat. Package services begin with the transfer to the hotel. This transfer is normally evening and a representative of our local guide will accompany the group on the short journey to the hotel. If you are arriving before this time, please note there will be a meeting point in the hotel lobby the following morning at 8.00am Meals included: None Day 2:Tour of Muscat and wild wadi camp After meeting our Leader and team we embark on a morning tour of Muscat beginning with the Grand Mosque, built by Sultan Qaboos in the 1997. It has the biggest 1 piece hand made Iranian carpet in the world. The interior walls are made of carara marbles.This elaborate construction is a wonderfully modern piece of Islamic architecture and was a gift from Sultan Qaboos to the Omani people, celebrating his 44 years in power. Moving across to the old quarter of Muscat and time permitting, we may visit the fish market where local fisherman bustle to sell their catch of the day. Prior to lunch we have time to visit our first Omani souk in Muscat’s old town and is wonderful place to buy traditional Omani wears. Heading for the outskirts of Muscat, we take an afternoon walk upon the original Muttrah trail which leads down to the harbour. Visit Old Muscat (where guests can see the Al Alam Palace, the official palace of His Majesty and also the 2 Portuguese forts, Jalali & Mirani) . Also visit Bait Al Zubair Museum to get a glimpse of Oman’s past glory than drive to hotel . ( B , L ) Day 3: MUSCAT – TO SUR 0830HRS: From Muscat to Quriyat, visit the fishing village and drive to Bamah village and photostop at the sinkhole. Proceed to Fins where the guests can see the white sandy beach. Picnic lunch in Fins beach. Then go to Wadi Shab, photostop in the wadi. Cross to the next wadi, Wadi Tiwi, guests can enjoy the crossing on shallow water. Proceed to Qalhat and visit the Bibi Mariam mausoleum. Arrive in Sur and visit the dhow building factory. (B ,L, D ) Day 4 : SUR TO WAHIBA SANDS ( DESERT) 0830 HRS: Depart Sur in the morning and proceed to Wadi Bani Khalid, one of the most beautiful oasis in Oman. It is a lush valley oasis with date palms & pools surrounded by steep cliffs. The guests can enjoy a refreshing swim in the natural pools of the wadi. Continue to Wahiba Sands, where guests can enjoy dune driving and see the majestic sand dunes that are 200 kilometers long and 100 kilometers wide and soar up to 150 meters and appear in a variety of hues from orange to deep amber. This includes stop in a Bedouin campsite. Picnic lunch included. (DINNER & OVERNIGHT – 1000 NIGHTS CAMP). (B ,L, D ) Day 5 : Drive Across Wahiba Sands and onto Nizwa Early mornings in the desert are a time of activity . Mists are a curious phenomenal 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. 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.. 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. (B,L,D). Day 6 : Visit Nizwa Fort and Jabel Shams 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. We return to Nizwa late in the afternoon (B,L,D). Day 7: DRIVE VIA WADI BANI AWF TO MUSCAT 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. in the afternoon visit of Nakhl Fort and Ain Thowarah. Arrive in Muscat and direct to the hotel. Day 8. MUSCAT – TRANSFER TO AIRPORT The trip ends today in Muscat Breakfast in the hotel – Leisure Day.