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The Wahiba Sands

Listed under Deserts in Oman.

  • Photo of The Wahiba Sands
  • Photo of The Wahiba Sands
  • Photo of The Wahiba Sands
  • Photo of The Wahiba Sands
  • Photo of The Wahiba Sands
  • Photo of The Wahiba Sands
  • Photo of The Wahiba Sands
  • Photo of The Wahiba Sands
Photo of The Wahiba Sands
Photo by Jenny Fowler
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Sun was setting over the Wahiba Sands in Oman. A light wind blew up the face of the great red dune, carving a knife-edge between the golden sunlit side and the ribbed shadows of the leeward side. The wind blew little flurries of sand over the edge and dropped them on the other side, shaping and sculpturing the sinuous crest of the dune that led south into the distance.

I stood with three other visitors and our two local drivers, looking westward over the trackless sands, watching the sun drop towards the horizon, absorbing the changing colours of the sky and the quiet of the desert. A moment of peaceful reflection, then as the sun fell below the horizon we returned to our lifeline, the four wheel drives that had brought us up impossible slopes to our vantage point.

The Wahiba Sands leave an impression on everyone who visits. It's not a place to explore by yourself, much better to stay at one of several desert camps which offer accommodation in comfortable tents and trips into the desert with drivers who have lived all their lives here and tackle vertiginous sand slopes with nonchalant ease.

I was staying at Al-Areesh Desert Camp, accessed from Al Qabil on Highway 23, the Muscat to Sur road. It's a very good road, maybe best travelled by daylight as camels do tend to cross it. We left our car in Al Qabil, and a driver took us up to the camp in time to catch the sunset.

As well as the tents, the camp has a large roofed area with rugs and seats. When we returned from the dune, we found a meal was laid out with plenty of choice of food cooked to local recipes, spicy meat or lentils, with salad, and rice or flat paratha bread. Outside a campfire was burning and guests sat round under the stars.

In the morning, patterns in the sand revealed that far from being lifeless, the desert is home to many creatures. The mark of a lizard's tail and a jerboa's feet were clear among a number of other signs of the night's adventures. I was only staying for one night, on my way to the coast at Sur, but from the camp there are interesting visits to local markets, wadis and ancient villages available, so this is a good base to spend several days exploring this austerely beautiful part of Oman.

Written by  Jenny Fowler.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Are the wahiba sands part of the Sahara

Are the wahiba sands part of the Sahara i'm in saif rawl now and would like to visit

1 Reply

Not really: they're in Oman between Muscat and Sur.

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