The Deserts and Mountains of Oman - 5th April to 13th April 2019

Wadi

Expect exotic, unspoilt scenery on our visit to the Sultanate of Oman, an extraordinary country that is forward-facing, yet still retains much of its traditional charm. We travel in 4WD vehicles (typically Toyota Land Cruisers with four to a vehicle) from Muscat to a fascinating and unspoilt world of traditional souks, mud villages, desert and mountains, where people live much as they have lived for centuries. The tour introduces you to rural communities, local culture and guided walks through wadis, deserts, fertile valleys and mountains - all in the company of English speaking local guides and expert drivers.

  • Travelling through Oman in 4WD vehicles exploring the desert, mountains, fertile valleys, Arabian Sea coast and rural communities
  • Discovering the culture and history of Oman
  • Guided walking through old Muscat, visiting the magnificent Grand Mosque
  • Exploring old forts and castles
  • Guided walking in remote areas, including desert, wadis and jebels
  • Luxury camping in the desert and mountains
  • Visit a desert Bedouin family in Wahiba Sands
  • Wahiba Sands camel ride
  • Two nights luxury accommodation at the 5-Star Shangri-La in Muscat

From Muscat we drive along the Arabian Sea coastal route, crossing the Hajjar Mountain Range to the mountain market town of Nizwa stopping along the way to visit farming communities with time to explore a spectacular gorge high up in the mountains. We stay in delightful hotels and high quality tented accommodation in the mountains and desert before returning to Muscat via the Jebel Shams Plateau, Wahiba Sands, Wadi Bani Khalid and Wadi Shab.

Oman

omani_mosque

The Sultanate of Oman occupies the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, with a coastline of some 1700km that stretches from the Straits of Hormuz in the north to the borders of Yemen in the south. Oman borders Saudi Arabia in the west and the United Arab Emirates to the northeast.

We travel in Spring, typically warm and dry, with temperatures at 30°C avg dropping to around 20°C at night. In mountain regions it can be cooler, particularly at altitudes above 2000 metres. The guided walks range from short to longer treks over fairly rough terrain, overall graded moderate. Many of the trails follow centuries-old routes through the mountains and are still in use by mountain villagers as the only means of access. The holiday is as much a cultural as a walking holiday and one of the features is that you may join in for some or all of the walks; the choice is yours.

Wadi

FRIDAY 05 April – TRAVEL TO MUSCAT

 

Arrive at the airport under your own arrangements for the flight to Muscat. Check-in at least two hours before departure time, using your passport and e-ticket. Your seat numbers will be shown on your e-ticket.

Aahlan wa Sahlan! Welcome to Oman!

Visas are available to UK passport holders on arrival at the airport. Passports should be valid for at least six months. Proceed to the Travelex counter. Fill in the visa application form and make the visa fee payment. OMR 5 (approx £10.00). The Travelex accepts the visa fee in any major currency. Proceed to the Visa Counter and get the visa stamped, then proceed to the baggage claim.

Met by a representative of Eihab Travels LLC, our agents, at the meeting point outside with a placard showing Langdale.

Transfer by private air-conditioned coach to the Al Falaj Hotel in Muscat where we spend the first two nights. During the drive the driver/guide will provide some interesting facts about Muscat and Oman in general.

Gulf Standard Times is GMT + 4 hours

Check in at the Al Falaj Hotel where we stay for two nights.

As we arrive late, a nightcap in the bar may appeal to some. Overnight Al Falaj Hotel.

 

SATURDAY 06 April – MUSCAT (BD)

 

Meet up with our guide, Abdulrahman, who will accompany us throughout the tour.

 

Today we have a guided tour of Muscat, the capital city of Oman. Muscat is a beautiful, pristine city, situated between the brown pleated mountains on the shores of the Arabian Sea. The city has developed, but has retained its pride in its heritage and culture.

 

Historically fishing was only second to farming as an economic activity in pre-oil Oman, and following our city tour we visit its main fish market. It is still a major industry and more than 150 species of fish and crustaceans have been identified in Omani waters.

 

From her we drive to old Musca, with a photo stop at the magnificent Al Aalam Palace (the official residence of Sultan Qaboos) flanked by the twin Portuguese forts of Mirani & Jalali. 

 

After an optional lunch, we walk the Riyam-Muttrah mountain trail. This two hour (optional) walk takes us along an old mule track, up a fairly steep climb and then down into the wadi. The reward is a great view of the harbour and Muttrah. The walk is a good introduction to our walking programme.  (walk - 2 hours - grade easy/moderate some scrambling).

 

Following the walk, we explore the Mut trah Souq, a labyrinthian market place where the exotic aroma of spices, coffee, ancient remedies and perfumes fill the air.

 

Dinner at the hotel. Overnight Al Falaj Hotel.

 

SUNDAY 07 April - MUSCAT-WADI BANI AWAF-BILAD SAIT- HAIL AL SHAS THE VIEW, HAIL AL SHAS (BLD)

 

Depart for today’s journey in 4WD vehicles. On our way, we visit the Grand Mosque, an architectural marvel and the new landmark of the city. Ladies visiting the Grand Mosque must wear a head scarf and be fully covered. Men should wear long trousers. No shorts, beachwear or sleeveless outfits permitted.

 

This exhilarating drive takes us along the Batinah coast, before taking the mountain crossing through the Al Hajjar Range towards Nizwa. Terraced farming and beautiful mountain villages await you along with far reaching views over the surrounding area.

 

The mountains are also where Omani honey is produced. Across the country you’ll find a varied landscape that consists of dried-up river beds, hills, plains and deserts in which plants flourish and provide the nutrients required by bees: palm trees, coconut palms, cereals, limes, vegetables, sugar cane, frankincense and gum trees. 

 

Drive on through the mountain pass with stunning view to the village of Bilad Sait (meaning the hidden village) where we walk through the gorge into the he village with some scrambling involved. (walk easy. one hour).

 

Continue the drive across the mountain range and then descend to Al Hamra and on to The View Camp located next to the mountain village of Hail Al Shas.

 

Overnight and dinner at The View at Hail Al Shas.

 

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MONDAY 08 April – JEBEL SHAMS – JABREEN-AL HAMRA-MISFAT AL ABRIYEEN- NIZWA FALAJ DARIS HOTEL, NIZWA (BLD)

 

Early morning, drive to Jebel Shams. In Jebel Shams we start the Jebel Shams Rim Walk, known locally as the Balcony Walk, along the Grand Canyon, with views over Jabal Al Khawr, Jabal Misht and Wadi Sahtan. It is widely recognized as one of the best vistas in Oman. Ascend to Hail Al Shas. Most houses in this little village are built from mud bricks and clay and many are over a hundred years old. They are built into the slope of the wadi (valley), nestled closely together. (walk three hours - grade moderate - steep in places. the walk is optional).

 

Forts and castles are Oman's most striking cultural landmarks and, along with towers and city walls, previously used as defensive bastions or look-out points. There are over 500 forts, castles and towers in Oman.

 

Start the day with a guided tour of Jabreen Castle. Built as a defensive stronghold, the Jabreen is one of the finest of Omani castles with dungeons, passages, rooms and ceilings adorned with fine carvings, paintings, inscriptions and frescoes.

 

Visit Al Hamra, at the foot of the mountains, where 400 year old mud houses are still standing and occupied. Then drive to the quaint little mountain village of Misfat Al Abriyeen.  Our guide will lead a fascinating walk around his village, explaining its history, agriculture and falaj watering system. The tour takes us through paths mostly shaded by date plantations and crops such as lemon, mangoes and a range of vegetables. Next we drive towards the Western Hajjar Mountains, over 2000 metres high and visible from far off. Next we drive up the mountain of Jebel Shams, (translated literally: “Sun Mountain”) and the highest peak in Oman. 

 

Drive to Nizwa. Dinner and Overnight at Falaj Daris Hotel, Nizwa.

 

TUESDAY 09 April - NIZWA-BIRKAT AL MAUZ-JEBEL AKHDHAR (Walk)-NIZWA FALAJ DARIS HOTEL, NIZWA (BLD)

 

We start the day with a visit to the Nizwa Fort & Souq.

 

Driving up to the Jebel Akhdhar Mountains, we make a stop at the picturesque little village of Birkat Al Mauz at the foot of the mountain - famous for its falaj water system and date and banana plantations.

 

We take the winding road to Jebel al Akhdar (2000m), the green jewel of the Al Hajjar Mountain Range. 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 the falaj water systems.

There are many short walks and long hikes in Jebal Akhdar, some of which are military routes which were used in the Jebal Akhdar war. Also famous for its fruits, rose and nut plantations, there are many small villages with some of the best farming in Oman. Abandoned villages are scattered randomly along the plateau hidden in wadi's and caves.

Our guide will take us on an interesting guided walk through mountain villages and  terraced farms with magnificent views over Wadi Muhaydin. Look out for fossilised coral, and a chance to see a rose water distillery in action. This 4km trail, connecting all the villages on Saiq plateau, starts either from Al Aqar or Saiq village. (walking time two hours. grade moderate).

 

Dinner and overnight stay at Falaj Daris Hotel, Nizwa.

 

village

WEDNESDAY 10 April - NIZWA- IBRA-WAHIBA SANDS DESERT NIGHTS CAMP, WAHIBA SANDS (BLD)

 

Today we set off to the desert. Our guide will be happy to suggest a few more interesting places on the way including a stop at the abandoned mercantile village of Al Mansfah. Much of the charm and character of this old village, which had known its heyday hundreds of years ago, has not washed away.

 

We stop at the desert town of Ibra where they hold a unique women-only market (only on Wednesdays) for Bedouins from surrounding Sharqiya Sands.  Ladies Market in Ibra is a fairly recent innovation, opened in 1990 and is only held on Wednesday mornings. It is the only souq in Oman which lends itself totally to the needs of women. Lotions, cosmetics, powders, textiles, perfumes and henna are amongst some of the items on sale. A dusty square, normally filled with camels and goats is transformed at the middle of each week into a bustling area where brisk business is done by women clad in exotic traditional costumes. There is a community atmosphere in the air where the women chat, work, and sell while their children amuse themselves with the wares. (Please ask for permission before you take photographs!)

 

Before continuing towards the dunes, we take the winding road up to the picturesque Wadi Bani Khalid. This is one of the greenest and most scenic wadis in Oman. It has great swimming holes and picnic areas. The walk is alongside a series of large swimming holes, following a rough boulder-strewn path for about 20 minutes through the deep part of the wadi to the Muqal Cave.

(walking time two hours. grade easy).

 

Running south from the Eastern Hajjar Mountains to the Arabian Sea, the Wahiba Sands, described as a Sand Sea, stretches almost 200 kms in length and about 100 kms in width, forming part of the Empty Quarter – so called for its sea of dunes stretching over the horizon. The dunes rise above 100-150 meters in different shades of colour. It’s a romantic place that should also appeal to travellers with a sense of adventure. A roller-coaster ride over the dunes should be a thrilling experience, especially for those who are first time visitors to the desert.

 

Just before we reach the camp we stop to enjoy the hospitality of a Bedouin home. Families here are unspoilt by mass-tourism and are pleased to offer us Omani “kahwa” (traditional coffee) and dates.

 

Our next stop is the desert and luxury camp, Desert Nights Resort.

 

Drive up the dunes to witness the sunset over the sands.

 

Dinner with local musicians proving background music for your entertainment. Overnight at Desert Nights Resort.

 

THURSDAY 11 April - WAHIBA SANDS-SUR-WADI SHAB (Walk)-SINKHOLE-MUSCAT SHANGRI-LA BARR AL JISSAH RESORT – AL BANDAR (BLD)

 

An early rise is a great opportunity to explore the dunes by foot or to just watch the shifting colours of the dunes. 

 

After breakfast, you can enjoy short camel ride within the Camp (less than 5 minutes) or a camel ride around the camp (30-45 minutes)

 

The drive from Wahiba Sands to Muscat offers stunning views of the Arabian Sea on one side and rocky cliffs on the other. We leave the coastal road to visit Wadi Shab for a tranquil walk along the wadi, stopping for a picnic lunch.

 

This is one of Oman’s most scenic wadis, a canyon type valley with flowing water throughout the year. Fresh water cascades from the top of the mountains to meet the sea, creating an environmental diversity unique to this wadi. This is a tidal wadi and, depending on the state of the tide, we may have to cross by boat. The walk is along an increasingly narrowing old rocky winding track, passing banana and mango trees with a series of streams and pools. Picnic lunch. (walk 1 - 2 hours. grade easy).

After the walk we continue the drive towards Muscat.

 

En-route we stop at the white sandy Fins beach for photos, as well as the Bimah Sinkhole, a spectacular limestone crater with blue green water. From here, we travel back to Muscat and drive to the Shangri-La Al Bandar Hotel, where we stay for two nights.

 

Dinner and overnight at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa (Al Bandar), Muscat.

 

Wadi

FRIDAY 12 April - SHANGRI-LA BARR AL JISSAH RESORT – AL BANDAR (BD)

 

Leisurely breakfast in the hotel.

 

Today there are a number of optional activities, including complimentary transfers to Muttrah or relaxing at the hotel’s private beach or enjoying one of its swimming pools.

 

Check out of the hotel in the evening followed by dinner at the Kargeen Restaurant in Muscat before we transfer to the airport for the return flight to UK.

 

NOTE: Arrangements will be made to retain some hotel rooms up until our departure so that you can relax, change and shower before departure for dinner and flight. Depart from the Kargeen Restaurant around 2030hrs.

 

SATURDAY 13 April - ARRIVE BACK IN UK

 

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner

omani_hotel

Accommodation is in excellent quality hotels and luxury desert and mountain tents, the latter being more like bungalows than tents, with full facilities. After this exciting journey we spend the last two nights at the luxurious 5-Star Shangri-Li Resort near Muscat with its own private beach, leisure facilities, spa and swimming pools.

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Inclusive price per person sharing a twin/double room departing from Heathrow £2,950
Supplement for departue from Leeds Bradford Airport £750
Supplement for British Airways flight including upgrade to Premium Economy On Request

What The Price Includes

  • International return economy class flights UK to Muscat
  • Private air-conditioned coach with driver for airport transfers
  • Bottled mineral water and soft drinks throughout the tour
  • Oman Government service tax  
  • 4WD vehicles and driver for the tour
  • Camel ride at Desert Nights Camp
  • Portage at all hotels
  • Accompanying tour leader throughout
  • English-speaking local guides
  • Full programme of sightseeing and guided walking
  • Services of our agent in Muscat – Eihab Travels  
  • Hotel accommodation with full facilities
  • All meals as shown in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to places of interest including museums and monuments

What Is Not Included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Oman Visa (approx £40.00)
  • Beverages
  • Gratuities, which are optional
  • Any Government taxes or compulsory charges that may be introduced after the publication of the brochure.

For reasons of safety, weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances - it may be necessary to make changes to the programme without advance notice. Every effort will be made to avoid this if at all possible.

Please Note: For reasons of safety, weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances, it may be necessary to make changes to the programme without advance notice. Every effort will be made to avoid this if at all possible.

Arrival

FRIDAY 05 April – TRAVEL TO MUSCAT

Arrive at the airport under your own arrangements for the flight to Muscat. Check-in at least two hours before departure time, using your passport and e-ticket. Your seat numbers will be shown on your e-ticket.

 

Etihad Airlines:

Heathrow Passengers:

Depart Heathrow (T4)             EY012                              09:15

Arrive Abu Dhabi (T3)                                                   20:05 (flight time 7:10)

           

Manchester Passengers:

Depart Manchester     (T1)         EY016                           08:55

Arrive Abu Dhabi        (T3)                                             20:05 (flight time 7:10)

           

All Passengers:

Depart Abu Dhabi                      EY388                          21:30

Arrive Muscat                                                                22:40 (flight time 1:10  

 

Alternative flight routing with British Airways:

This alternative route is offered to clients who prefer to fly with British Airways in their World Traveller Plus (WTP) category, instead of Economy Class with Etihad Airways.

 

Depart Manchester    (T3)         BA1385                        07:25

Arrive Heathrow (T5)                                                     08:35

 

Depart Heathrow (T5)               BA0073                        09:45

Arrive Muscat                                                               22:45                                       

Departure

Etihad Airlines:

 

All Passengers:

Depart Muscat                             FN: EY381                     23:30

Arrive Abu Dhabi           (T3)                                             00:35   13 April (flight time 1.05)

 

Heathrow Passengers:

Depart Abu Dhabi   (T3)                FN: EY011                   03:00    13 April

Arrive Heathrow (T4)                                                         06:45    (flight time 7.45)

 

Manchester Passengers:

Depart Abu Dhabi                    FN: EY015                     02:15   (13 April)

Arrive Manchester (T1)                                                 06:30    (flight time 7.15

 

Alternative flight routing with British Airways:

Depart Muscat                          BA0072                           00:25 (13 April)                                    

Arrive Heathrow (T5)                                                    06:35

 

Depart Heathrow (T5)              BA1384                         07:50

Arrive Manchester (T3)                      08:50

Map

Weather

The Omani climate is characterised by long, very hot summers and warm winters. Travelling in spring, we avoid the sweltering, arid conditions of the July to Septemver. Rainfall in Muscat is rare, typical of its location in the Arabian peninsula.


E&OE

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