Mountains, Desert Dunes

High mountain villages, the ancient capital, golden dunes of Sharqiya Sands, and Muscat.

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DAY 1JEBEL AKHDAR

On arrival into Muscat travel by private vehicle to Jebel Akhdar, a relaxing and at times spectacular 2.5 hour drive from Muscat International Airport.

Check in to your hotel, enjoy lunch and a relaxing afternoon on the property. Jebel Akhdar sits more than 2000m metres above sea level and the highlands here have a Mediterranean-style climate that is perfect for growing sweet-scented roses for rosewater, as well as apples, stone fruit, pomegranates, almonds and grapes.

Jebel Akhdar: Overnight at Sahab Hotel | Alila Jabal Akhdar | Jabal Akhdar Hotel

DAY 2JEBEL AKHDAR ROSE WALK AND NIZWA

Enjoy an early morning escorted walk through local villages to view their gorgeous orchards and rock rose plantings. First introduced by Persian settlers, they are now widely cultivated, filling the air with fragrance when they burst into bloom in April and May. The petals are plucked by hand in the cool of the morning, then boiled to produce a vapour which condenses into the finest rosewater.

After lunch depart Jebel Akhdar and drive towards Oman’s cultural capital, Nizwa. This Oasis city was once the capital of Julanda Dynasty in the 6th and 7th Century AD. Today it remains as the most popular tourist attractions with its historical buildings and imposing fort – now Oman’s most visited national monument.

Nizwa is one of the oldest cities in Oman and was for centuries a vital hub of trade, religion, education and art. These days it’s also known for its famed souq or market. Vendors here sell everything from meat, fish, fruits and vegetables to spices, dates and gold. But Nizwa is also renowned for its silver jewellery which is considered to be the best in the country. Explore the renowned souq in the evening.

Nizwa: Overnight at Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel | Falaj Daris Hotel Nizwa | Al Diyar Hotel

DAY 3NIZWA

Rise early to travel to Nizwa’s famous weekly goat and cattle market where farmers come from far and wide to trade livestock in a time-honoured tradition. This is one of the liveliest markets in all of Oman. Explore Nizwa Fort, with its enormous circular tower built in the 17th century by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya’Aruba to defend the route to the interior.

The fort dominates the entire area, with the town having grown around the edifice. Access to the top is only by means of a narrow twisting staircase barred by heavy wooden doors, studded with metal. From the top of the tower one can get a bird’s eye view of the Nizwa city.

Enjoy with lunch at a local restaurant, before returning to your hotel for an afternoon and evening at leisure.

Nizwa: Overnight at Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel | Falaj Daris Hotel Nizwa | Al Diyar Hotel.

DAY 4NIZWA TO SHARQIYA SANDS

Depart Nizwa and journey to the famed pottery village of Bahla, have lunch in the idyllic village of Misfah Al Abreeyan emerging from an oasis of green against a rugged mountain backdrop, enjoy a photo stop in Birkat Al Mawz, then on to magical Jabrin Castle.

Dating back to 1670, Jabrin Castle is not only famous for its recently restored and beautiful structure, detailed lattice-work, famous curved arches and detailed hand-chiselled doors, but also for its folklore of magic and wizardry. Gaze out over the surrounding landscape from the Sun and Moon chambers, and from the stunning rooftop offering uninterrupted views in every direction.

Complete today’s journey across the vast Sharqiya Sands. Running south from the Eastern Hajar Mountains to Arabian Sea, this sand sea has dunes that rise above 100-150 metres in different shades of colour – the perfect place for both the romantic and the adventurous.

Sharqiya Sands: Overnight at Desert Nights Camp | Desert Palm | Arabian Oryx | Safari Camp.

DAY 5SHARQIYA SANDS

Spend an unforgettable day in the desert today. Watch the dunes change colour and shadows slide across the sand as the sun draws its arc across the sky. Enjoy activities like camel riding or quad-biking, and simply relax and immerse yourself in the silence of the desert.

At sunset, enjoy canapes and refreshments atop a towering dune as the sun dips and the temperature drops. You will not forget the shimmering night sky any time soon.

Sharqiya Sands: Overnight at Desert Nights Camp | Desert Palm | Arabian Oryx | Safari Camp.

DAY 6SHARQIYA SANDS TO MUSCAT VIA SUR

After breakfast check-out and depart your desert camp.

Living within and along the Sands are approximately 3000 pastoralist Bedouins from different tribes who still tend to herds of goats and camels. On your way, stop at a Bedouin house, meet the very hospitable people unspoilt by tourism, and enjoy traditional Omani kahwa (cardamom infused Omani coffee) and dates.

Leaving the dunes behind, head towards the coast on sealed roads once again. Enjoy a brief stop in Sur – an important seafaring port since antiquity. You’ll have time to spend at the waterfront Dhow yards where these enormous timber boats are still made by hand.

In the early afternoon, continue north-west along the coast road towards Muscat. Stop for a surreal swim in the Bimah sinkhole, a remarkable limestone crater with a pool of deep blue-green water at the bottom. Return to Muscat in the evening and check-in to your hotel.

Muscat: Overnight at your choice of Muscat Hotel.

DAY 7MUSCAT

Start a half-day city tour of Muscat today with a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (closed

Fridays). Completed in 2001, the Grand Mosque stands proudly over Muscat. It is home to one of the largest Crystal Chandeliers and hand-stitched Persian carpets in the world.

Leaving the Grand Mosque, head towards Mutrah and the fascinating fish market. The sights and sounds of the market will have you yearning for more. Accordingly, head to Mutrah Souk, wander around the market with the scent of ancient Frankincense – the perfume of the gods – in the air. Your haggling urges filled, make your way to the Oman Museum, a photo stop at Al Alam Palace flanked by Mirani Fort and Jalali Fort, built by the Portuguese during their reign in Oman.

Lunch at hotel or at one of the many local restaurants along the Corniche at Mutrah Harbour.

Muscat: Overnight at your choice of Muscat Hotel.

DAY 8MUSCAT

Complete your journey in Muscat. Spend the day by the beach or pool or snapping up some final keepsakes from Mutrah souk.

ITINERARY INCLUDES

  • Airport transfers
  • All in-destination transport/touring
  • Local, English-speaking driver/guide
  • Bottled water
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Breakfasts daily and meals as specified by the tour operator upon enquiry

NOTES

Vehicle Type: 4WD on tour and/or Sedan Car in Muscat
Touring Style: Private tour with your own dedicated Omani Guide/Driver