This tour includes the highlights of the central Oman hinterland: the Gulf port of Sur, the turtle sanctuary at Ra Al Jinz, the dunes and a Bedouin encampment in the Wahiba Sands, the Jabel Akhdar plateau, the ancient former capital at Nizwa, the spectacular Jebel Shams mountain range and numerous tiny villages, wadis and oasis. This is a tailor-made tour which can be varied to suit your exact requirements. You travel in a 4WD vehicle, usually Toyota Land Cruiser, with an English-speaking Omani driver-guide.
Day 1 Depart from London Heathrow on an overnight Oman Air flight
Day 2 On arrival you will be met by your driver/guide who will be with your for the duration from your trip and transferred to Muscat for a one night stay at the Crowne Plaza. Spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach and taking a dip in the warm Indian Ocean.
Day 3 Depart mid-morning by a 4WD vehicle along the scenic and rugged coastal route. This drive along the coast offers great views of the blue waters of the Gulf of Oman. We pass fishing villages, and the picturesque Wadi Arabayeen with its deep pools of water set among date palms. We stop at the Bimah sinkhole, a spectacular limestone crater with blue-green water at the bottom. At Qalhat we pass the ancient cliff-top mausoleum of Bibi Miriam. The road then winds through mountain terrain to the ancient port of Sur. After some time spent exploring Sur with its famous ancient dhow-building yards, we drive on to Ras al Jinz, a sanctuary for green turtles. Stay overnight at Carapace Lodge in the Ras Al Jinz Scientific centre. We walk to the beach at night, to watch the turtles nesting on the sands.
Day 4 After breakfast, we continue driving inland, the rocky scrubland and hills begin to be covered in sand that drifts in until everything is coated in wind-blown sand. Wadi Bani Khalid, with its deep blue-green waters and pretty small villages embedded in the mountains, makes a good stopping point for a swim before continuing to the desert. We continue our drive on to the Wahiba Sands, a vast mass of red and white sand with dunes rising up to 200 meters. The ever-changing patterns of the dunes are a photographers delight. You stay at a Bedouin encampment about 20km into the Sands. Your experienced driver can take you riding the dunes for some sand-bashing fun on your way to the Thousand Nights Camp, the overnight stop. Your home for the night is a Bedouin tent lit by oil lamps. Sit cross-legged on a carpet for a traditional Bedouin dinner, served in the main meal tent. Your guide will explain the various features and customs of Bedouin life.
Day 5 After breakfast, leave camp, drive out of the Wahiba Sands and head for the historic town of Nizwa. We visit Jabrin, the finest of Oman's castles built in the late 17th century which became a seat of Omani learning. This castle displays the highest achievement in Omani ceiling painting & beautifully executed woodcarvings. Visit the terrace farming village of Wadi Ghul, well-known as the home of some of the best traditional weavers in Oman. The traditional patterns are geometric, made from red, black and brown vegetable and chemical dyes. Stop at the medieval village of Al Hamra, a wide date plantation in between the rough mountain terrain. The old part of the village lies on a titled rock slab and some of the oldest and finest two-storey houses in Oman can be found here. The village and its palm plantation sit in an elongated oval with a graded road encircling it. The dilapidated ruins of old watchtowers overlooking the village add to its charm. The final visit is to Misfah a pretty mountain village with its stone dwellings hewn into the mountainside. Enjoy a walk through the terraced gardens which offer an abundance of lemons, dates and banana. Overnight stay at the Falaj Daris hotel, Nizwa.
Day 6 After breakfast we go into the heart of Nizwa to visit the Round Tower fort and the souk. In the late morning we leave Nizwa for the pretty village of Birkat al Mauz, where we enjoy a walk through the lush green date plantations. From Birkat al Mauz, we go on to Wadi al Madeen, the gate of the 'Green Mountain' From here, a 35km stretch of winding road takes you to Jebel al Akhdar (2000m), the green jewel of the Al Hajar mountain ranges. Enjoy the cool climate up in the mountains and see Jebel al Akhdar which is famed for fruit orchards laid out in terraces along the mountain slopes and irrigated by falaj, traditional water systems. A large variety of fruit including peaches, apricots, figs, grapes, apples plums and pears are grown here from July to September and almonds and walnuts are cultivated. Tiny villages, including picturesque Saiq, Al Ain, and abandoned Wadi Bani Habib, dot the landscape and overlook a spectacular vista of peaks, gorges and wadis. The roses of Jebel al Akhdar fill the air with fragrance from March to April, when they are in full bloom, and rose water is distilled in the homes of the villagers. Return to Nizwa to overnight at the Falaj Daris Hotel.
Day 7 Today there is an adventurous drive through mountain passes as you drive over the Jebel Akhtar range to Nakhl. The road goes down into the Wadi Bani Awf, one of the most fascinating and astonishing mountain valleys. On the way pass the little village of Hat and reach the beautiful mountain oasis of Bilad Said, famous for its terraced agriculture. After leaving the wadi, drive through the date palm plantations and pass the sparkling springs to the fort at Nakhl. After visiting the fort, head back to Muscat for a four night stay at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort at Al Bandar.
Day 11 Transfer to Muscat airport for your day flight back to London
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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