Discover one of the most fascinating and beautiful countries of the Arabian Peninsula!
Combining breathtaking natural beauty with a well-preserved cultural heritage, the Sultanate of Oman is one of the least known, yet most exciting and safe, tourist destinations in the Middle East.
You will explore the intriguing capital of Muscat, the magnificent forts and palaces of Oman, the rolling dunes of the Wahiba Sands by camel, the beautiful walled city of Nizwa, and the land of frankincense and forgotten caves near the port city of Salalah.
Hiking, cultural touring, short camel ride
- Discover Oman’s breathtaking mountains, dunes, and coastline on this authentic Arabian experience!
- Visit medieval forts, stroll through souks and cattle markets, ride a camel in the great Wahiba Sands, and trek through mountain villages near Oman’s Grand Canyon, Wadi Ghul
- Sleep under the stars in a traditionally-styled, but ultra-modernized Bedouin tent (with air conditioning, en suite facilities, and cozy patios)!
Duration: 10 days Start Location: Muscat End Location: MuscatDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive Muscat
Arrival at Muscat International Airport (most flights arrive in the morning), then pass through passport control and collect your bags before meeting your guide in the Arrival Hall. We’ll transfer to the group hotel, check-in and drop off our bags before departing on our afternoon tour.
We begin our exploation of Muscat by embarking on a relaxed dhow (traditional fishermen’s boat) cruise. We'll see the Muscat coast through the eyes of ancient seafarers who plied this route for centuries. We'll stop briefly at a natural cove and be able to photograph the spectacular Al Bustan Palace Hotel before we return to the marina.
This evening, we venture to the Bait Adam Museum for a private visit, followed by a traditional dinner with an Omani Family. We will explore the museum with the founder and curator of this unique collection of Omani artifacts and history. We’ll become better acquainted with Oman’s rich heritage by viewing this private collection of old maps, photographs, paintings, jewelry, and one of the best private collections of ancient coins in the Middle East.
Day 2 : Muscat
After an early breakfast, we'll depart to visit the Fish Market, then the Grand Mosque, the most exquisite mosque in Oman. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the most beautiful and extravagant modern mosques in the world. The mosque was first opened in 2001 and took six years to build. The mosque features a blend of Islamic, Middle Eastern, and Omani architectural styles, hosts one of the world’s largest handmade Persian rugs (it took 600 female weavers 4 years to create!) and one of the world’s biggest crystal chandeliers. The mosque can hold up to 20,000 worshippers and is the largest in Oman. An Omani scholar will give us a short lecture on Islamic culture inside the mosque.
After the lecture, we'll visit the Bait Al Zubair Museum with its extensive collection of jewelry and costumes from different regions of Oman. Then, we'll enjoy lunch at the famous Al Bustan Palace Hotel. After lunch, we’ll continue our touring and visit the House of Amouage. The House of Amouage creates some of the most expensive perfumes in the world for both men and women. In recent years, some Amouage scents have been blended for Western tastes to appeal to a larger audience and are available in select stores internationally. Here in the headquarters, the blending of some of the finest ingredients takes place, including frankincense and myrrh found only in Oman and Yemen, rose from Taif in Saudi Arabia, and Arabian amber. After having experienced the aroma of Amouage, we drive straight to Mutrah, a delightful quarter of Muscat.
Mutrah still retains the feel of a small fishing village! We'll explore the souk, or tradtional Arabic market, watching the locals go about their day shopping--the women in black abeyyas and men in white dishdashas, embroidered hats and turbans folded in the Omani style. We'll stroll along the Corniche and dhow harbor, viewing the Sultan's Palace and colonade and also the Jalali forts standing guard at the mouth of the harbor.
Day 3 : Nizwa and Jebel Akhdar
We’ll rise early today so that we can drive to Nizwa in time to enjoy the weekly Friday morning cattle market-- a fascinating spectacle of furious bidding by the local tribes people, many of them women. Nizwa lies on a plain surrounded by a thick palm oasis and some of Oman's highest mountains---it is famed for crafting silver khanjars(traditional daggers). We'll see many of these khanjars, plus pottery, baskets, and silver jewelry, as we stroll through the souk. We will also visit the Nizwa fort, which was built in the 17th century and dominates the town center with its 125 foot round tower.
From here, we'll drive to the starting point of our village walk in the town of Al Aqor on Jebel Akhdar. Enjoy a fascinating walk through mountain villages with terraced farms and ancient falaj irrigation systems, not to mention the magnificent views over Wadi Muhaydin. We'll keep a look out for fossilized coral and maybe even see a rose water distillery in action!. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch either before or during the walk. (2-2.5 hours, 2.5 miles, altitude just over 6,000 ft)
Dinner and overnight at the Sahab Hotel.
Day 4 : Hiking in the Wadis of Oman
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll drive to Wadi Nakhr located in the depth of Oman's deepest canyon. Then we proceed to the village of Al Hamra, located at the foot of the Hajar Mountains. Al Hamra is one of the oldest towns in Oman and is interesting for a well preserved row of two and three story mud-brick houses built in Yemeni style.
We will have time for two hikes today with a picnic lunch in between. Our first walk will be an exciting, easy walk along steep canyon walls to an old abandoned village, bringing you back in time hundreds of years. (1.5hrs, 2 miles, altitude around 6,000 ft) The second walk will take place along the western flank of the Nakhr gorge, from the village of Al Khatim down to the entrance of Wadi Nakhr (the Grand Canyon of Oman). (3.5hrs, 3.7 miles, from 6,000 ft to 2,000 ft) Both walks follow ancient donkey paths used by donkey caravans to carry supplies to the villages higher up in the mountains.
Dinner and overnight at The View, a unique eco-lodge with luxury tented rooms.
Day 5 : Mountain Hike
After breakfast at the eco-lodge, we’ll drive to the starting point of our longest hike. We begin walking down old stone staircases built steep into the north walls (sure-footedness required!) with fantastic views over Wadi Bani Awf and Balad Seet then over the high plateau and down on the south slopes past old villages towards the famous mountain village Misfat Al A’briyeen. We will have lunch in an Omani guesthouse in this village and take a one hour break before continuing down the mountain path. (5 hrs, 5.5 miles, from 6500 ft to 3000 ft)
Buffet dinner and overnight at our eco-lodge, The View.
Day 6 : Wahiba Sands
Today we descend out of the mountains and drive south via the towns of Sinaw and Mudairib, passing old watch towers standing guard. Sinaw's souk attracts many local Bedouins and Mudairib features traditional homes with carved wooden doors and painted ceilings. We continue our Omani journey to Wahiba Sands, a vast mass of undulating red and white sea of sand and dunes rising up to 650 feet, which are host to a variety of flora and fauna. The ever-changing patterns of the dunes are a photographer’s delight. We’ll enjoy an afternoon camel ride with Kristy once we reach our Desert Camp. No experience required, Kristy will bring her years of camel trekking skills from Morocco and get everyone comfortable in the saddle in no time!
Dinner and Overnight stay in the delightful Desert Night Camp. We stay in large Bedouin-style individual tents, complete with en suite bathrooms, air conditioning, and cozy patios that provide panoramic vistas across the golden sands.
Day 7 : Wahiba to Sur to Salalah
We spend the morning driving back to Muscat along the coastal route in our 4WD vehicles, with some interesting stops along the way. First, we'll visit the ruins of Bibi Miriam’s Tomb. As the only standing remains of the once thriving port city of Qalhat, Bibi Miriam’s Tomb is probably one of the most photographed ancient relics in Oman. Believed to have been built by Bahauddin Ayez, King of Hormuz in honour of his wife, it stands on the hill just outside the village of Qalhat. The rest of the port city, destroyed by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, is gradually being reconstructed by an international team of archaeologists. Our next stop is the Bimah Sinkhole, a spectacular limestone crater with blue green water at the bottom. On clear, sunny days while driving along the coast we might have the chance to see sharks in the deep blue water or flat-footed gazelle sprint across the landscape. Next up is Wadi Arbayeen, with its deep pools of water set among the date palms. Then we head to the airport in Muscat for our flight south to Salalah. We settle in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and enjoy an afternoon to rest and relax at this lovely resort.
Day 8 : Salalah
Today we'll explore many sites near Salalah. We'll drive to the fishing village of Taqa, an old town with an interesting castle surrounded by watchtowers and stone houses. Then we proceed onward to Khor Roricreek, the site of the ruined city of Samhuram, and capital of ancient Arabia’s frankincense trade. Excavations have produced evidence of an ancient city with trade links by sea to Far Eastern destinations and even with distant Greece. Next up is Mirbat, the ancient capital of Dhofar, an important town as early as the 9th century for its trade in frankincense, horses and slaves. We'll explore some of the old houses famous for their woodcarvings. If we are lucky, we might see boatloads of fish arriving into the harbor. One of Dhofar’s best-known historic sites is Bin Ali’s Tomb. The twin-domed structure is the tomb of Mohamed bin Ali, who died in 1135 AD, and is a fine example of medieval Omani architecture.
After lunch, we'll visit the Biblical “Nabi Ayoub” or Prophet Job’s Tomb, perched high up in the mountains. Enroute are spectacular views of the plains, mountain landscapes and emerald green pastureland. From here we'll head over to Mughsail Beach to check out the blowholes (perforations in the limestone rock through which sea water gushes during high tide). We'll also drive along the amazing hairpin bend roads in this region and visit a wadi. The views are breath-taking. At the nearby bird sanctuary, we may see seasonal birds. Enroute, the stark shapes of leafless Frankincense Trees dot the landscape. Once traded as a commodity more precious than gold, frankincense harvested in Dhofar is rated the best in the world.
Day 9 : Salalah
Salalah, the “garden city” of the south, is a tropical paradise. We'll visit a local garden, which has groves of coconut, banana, papaya, and vegetables. We'll also make photo stops at the beautiful Shanfari Mosque with its exquisite artwork and stained tiles. Next we will explore Al Husn Souq, where the frankincense crystals of Dhofar and typical Dhofari frankincense burners are sold. Be sure to check out the sale of cattle and guns in the market and then we'll walk along the city’s promenade (waterfront corniche) where single-story houses are dwarfed by tall, swaying palms. Al Husn Palace, summer residence of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, stands at one end of the promenade.
Farewell dinner at the hotel tonight.
Day 10 : Depart Muscat
After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, we'll transfer to Salalah airport for our 1.5 hour flight to Muscat where the trip ends. Please book your departure flight from Muscat anytime after 3pm.
DATES: Best time to go: January - March, November - December Departures: Nov 26, 2014 - Dec 5, 2014
Shangri-La Bandar HotelMuscat
Al Bandar is one of the three hotels at Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, Sultanate of Oman. The five-star deluxe property provides 198 sea-facing guestrooms. Deluxe Rooms offer expansive space with a modern, Arabian-inspired décor that expresses the spirit of Oman in a contemporary setting.
Sahab is a unique and tranquil luxury boutique hotel situated on the Saiq Plateau which is located 2,004 meters above sea level on Jebel Al Akhdar in the western Hajjar Mountains, overlooking a canyon that contains ancient villages and famous terraced farms/gardens. The hotel is designed and built in tribute to the charm of the mountain, linked with the modern style. Over 5000 sqm of native plants and 270 million year-old marine fossils are located in the garden surrounding the 27 luxurious hotel rooms and suites.
The ViewAl Hamra
Perched on a ridge high above the town of Al Hamra, a little way outside of Nizwa, the View Eco-Lodge has 15 tents, seven of which have views over the valley. All the tents have laminate flooring, a basic air conditioner and heater, and private bathroom shower rooms.
Desert Nights CampWahiba Sands
Set in the Wahiba Sands, the Desert Nights Camp offers luxury tented accommodation. Each air-conditioned tent includes a lounge, bedroom, bathroom and is equipped with all the facilities of a luxury hotel.
Crowne Plaza Resort SalalahSalalah
The Crowne Plaza Resort is situated in 45 acres of gardens and coconut groves, overlooking the Indian Ocean, and located on a long stretch of white sandy beach. The hotel has two restaurants, and has a range of sport and leisure facilities, including a nine-hole golf course.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.