Oman : Wahiba Sands
To the south east of Muscat the Hajar mountains give way to the dunes of the Wahiba Sands. Once described as a 'perfect sand sea' the rolling dunes of the Wahiba Sands are truly stunning. The dunes are about 100-150 metres high and range in colour from orange to hues of amber and gold. Where the sands meet the ocean, outcrops of rock are carved into strange and abstract shapes. Activities in the area centre round exhilarating dune driving in 4x4 vehicles as well as the more sedate camel treks and cultural visits to Bedu camps and the bustling Bedu market in the town of Sinaw.
The 1000 Nights Camp is the only one of its kind at Wahiba Sands. Set in an isolated (40km through the dunes from the main road ... great fun for self drives!) but scenic spot amongst a small stand of Cineraria Trees in a valley between the rolling sand dunes. The camp is one of the most peaceful places in Oman. This camp differs from the other camps in the Wahiba Sands in that you stay in 15 traditional hand made wool Bedouin tents but more importantly there are no dune buggies or quad bikes, no electricity generators and no mobile phones! At night the camp is lit by the soft glow of paraffin lamps which cuts down on light pollution giving you spectacular night skies.
The tents are furnished in a rustic style with Arabic carpets, comfortable double or twin beds with crisp white bed sheets, pillows and warm blankets (it can get a little chilly at night!). The tents also have a tea table and chairs as well as fresh towels and a cool box for beverages. At present the open air toilets and showers cubicles are set in 2 regimented rows a little distance from the camp and whilst clean and functional (hot water showers and proper flush loos) they have suffered under the harsh climate and are in a bit of a poor state of repair. We were told that the toilets are being refurbished for the 2007 season and some of them relocated closer to the tents.
The main reception is located in a big Bedouin Majlis (living room tent) furnished with Arabic style carpets and rest pillows, the perfect place to enjoy welcoming drinks and the camp fire at night. The dining tent has low height tables with sitting cushions rather than chairs and the food is exclusively Arabic in style with Mezze starters, fresh green salads, Omani B.B.Q, fresh seasonal fruits and desserts. To help preserve the local environment, the camp avoids the use of plastic cups and dishes or any plastic materials in the restaurant or the whole area of the camp.
There are a number of activities ranging from camel riding (day trips or longer on request), trekking in the sand dunes at night under the stars or early in the morning while the sun rises, 4WD trips across the dunes to the beach for a lunch time picnic (on advance request). The area is famous for practicing your dune driving with a local guide, but to preserve the peaceful nature of the camp this takes place some distance away.