Whispers Through the Empty Quarter

by

Arabian nights under a blanket of stars. Soaring sand dunes and labyrinthine cities. It’s time to live out your Lawrence of Arabia fantasies. Less than 100 years ago, the Empty Quarter had not been mapped let alone crossed by western man.

Now it is your chance to embrace the hypnotising landscapes and cultural traditions of this Arabian jewel. Arid landscapes and rolling dunes. Encounter camel trains and the Bedu’s who escort them, mingle with the Bedouins who have lived in these harsh conditions for centuries. Few travellers will get to experience such a remote, untouched yet sparsely beautiful region of our planet.

DAY 1Arrival Muscat

Welcome to Muscat! Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Be greeted by the warm air, turquoise sea and lush city. Spend the afternoon relaxing and exploring your resort. This evening, you will be transferred to a local village house, Bait Al Bilad where you will try your hand at cooking the local omani cuisine. The village house is a fully restored and authentic village house on the beach of Qantab – the fishing village that lies between the Al Bustan Palace & Shangri La hotels.  Enjoy an authentic Omani cooking class with the locals and dining experience, surrounded by the jebel and the sea. (D)

2 nights Shangri La Resort

DAY 2Muscat

Fill up on a delicious breakfast before departing to explore Muscat city. Your morning begins by exploring the Bait Al Zubair Museum and a photo stop by Qasr Al Alam (His Majesty’s Palace). From here, you will head to the corniche and explore the vibrant fish market and lively Muttrah Souk. The gold souk here is one of the highlights! Bargain with the locals and see what treasures you can uncover in the labyrinth of twisting and winding alleyways. You will also visit the Grande Mosque, the largest mosque in Oman. It is also home to the biggest carpet in the world. (All visitors must be fully covered to wrists and ankles; ladies must wear a scarf covering hair and neck for a visit to the Grand Mosque.) (Grand Mosque is open only from Saturday to Thursday and Friday is closed).  You will then return to your hotel, where the remainder of the day is yours at leisure. (B)

DAY 3Jebel Shams

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning before departing and making your way to  the magnificent Rustaq Fort which is perched on a rocky outcrop of the western Hajar mountains. The old village of Rustaq leads to the famous hot springs situated at the end of an attractive oasis. Make the most of a quick visit to the shallow springs surrounded by lush green date plantations and steep mountain peaks. You will continue an amazing drive through Wadi Bani Auf, which brings you to the base of the north face of Jebel Shams and the beautiful village of Bilat Sayt, hidden between the mountains. Your camp setup is ready upon arrival. Take in the spectacular scenery that surrounds you. (B,L,D)

Overnight Desert Camping

DAY 4Jebel Shams

Your belly will be full this morning after a delicious camping breakfast. This morning we depart for Al Hamra, Jabrin and Bahla, some of the regions oldest cities of mud houses and abandoned villages. Discover one of the most beautiful castles in Oman, Jibreen Castle. Feast your eyes on the marvel of artistry that has gone into constructing the ceilings and building. This castle is like a maze. So many rooms, so many doorways. Later you are treated with Omani lunch. After lunch visit the natural wonders of Al Hoota Cave. Located in the foothills of Jebel Shams, its formations are as old as 2 million years. The cave is home to nearly 100 animal species and the blind fish. This cave truly is a geological paradise.

From here, we continue on another 40 minutes before reaching our next camping site at the Grand Canyon of Oman – “Jebel Shams”. The chasm seems to go on forever. Small abandoned villages remain inside it, and hiking trails are the best way to explore it. After arriving at the camp site, enjoy another night under the sheet of stars and stories from your guide. (B,L,D)

Overnight Desert Camping

DAY 5Nizwa and Wahiba Sands

Following breakfast, it is time to head out to explore the canyon with your guide. From here, descend the highest peak of Arabia as you head towards the old capital town of Oman – Nizwa. The town is enriched with history and culture. Visit the Nizwa fort and must to do silver souk – be sure to practice your bargaining skills! Following a picnic lunch, the next stop is the magnificent golden Wahiba Desert. Drive through the rolling sand dunes as you make your way to your camp. Your luxury camp in the middle of nowhere and it is beautiful here. Be sure to climb the sand dunes to a spectacular sunset – a great way to end the day. (B,L,D)

Overnight at Desert Nights Camp

DAY 6Sugar Dunes

After breakfast, it is time to begin crossing the dunes as you drive to the Sugar Dunes of Khaloof Bay. Khaloof Bay is backed by soaring sand dunes. In the waters on the beach, local fishermen are hard at work and the bays vibrant bird population means eagles soar above whilst flamingos balance precariously in the shallow waters. Your next camp site is already set up. Time to kick back and relax. (B,L,D)

Overnight Desert Camping

DAY 7Rub Al Khali

Why not rise early to take in the stunning sunrise. Following breakfast, you will have some free time if you wish to explore a little on foot. You then continue driving onwards to the desert of Rub Al Khali, the home of the Bedouins in the region of Oman straddling the border with Saudi Arabia and the Yemen. Here the extreme temperatures and arid conditions mean that it is mostly uninhabited, although its fringes are home to the proud, resourceful and hardy Bedu, which have survived here for centuries. Your expert tour guide dunes his way manoeuvring the vehicles to reach your camp site. (B,L,D)

Overnight Desert Camping

DAY 8Salalah

Today you head further south towards Salalah. Be guided through a landscape of colossal golden and red sand dunes, vast salt flats and oases. Experience the sensation of being surrounded by deafening silence and sand.  Enjoy supreme tranquillity in one of the most stunning environments on earth. Very few people have the opportunity to explore the vastness of the Empty Quarter. Be sure to make the most of it. Examine geodes, prehistoric small solid or hollow rocks lined with crystals, or perhaps meet up with and chat to Bedus taking camel trains across the desert. (B,L,D)

2 nights Juweirah Resort Salalah

DAY 9Salalah

Today is yours at leisure to explore Salalah. Head into the hills for some fantastic walking trails or if you prefer to flop and drop, laze by the water. (B)

DAY 10Departure

This morning your tour ends after breakfast. You will be transferred to the airport for your onwards flight. (B)

Package Includes

  • Return airport transfers
  • Air conditioned 4WD transportation with English speaking local guide
  • 2 nights Shangri La Resort including breakfast
  • 1 night at Desert Night Camp with dinner and breakfast
  • 4 nights desert camping including all meals
  • 2 nights stay at Juweirah Resort Salalah with breakfast
  • Cooking class at Bait Al Bilad
  • Economy Class one way ticket Salalah – Muscat
  • Entrance fee to all attractions as per itinerary
  • Full camping gear, additional crew for set up and break down camp prior to arrival on site
  • Use of standard Coleman tents (big) with comfortable beds and mattress, toilet and shower
  • Facility, daily fresh camping dinner and breakfast and lunch off-site in a local restaurant
  • Special Omani dinners (BBQ, Shewa)
  • Scrubba Wash Bag