Wahiba Sands and Wadi Bani Khalid from Muscat
The Wahiba Sands, about three hours from Muscat, is Oman’s version of Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter. It is a vast mass of red and white sand, 140 km by 80km, with dunes rising up to 150 meters. There is a scattering of Bedouin camps, as Bedouin herders still wander from waterhole to waterhole, and the sands actually contain quite a variety of terrain and vegetation. It is possible to drive across the Wahiba Sands, but it is more usual to drive in from Mintrib, camp overnight Camp, and drive out of the sands the following morning.
The sands are a good place to interact with Omani women whose Bedouin lifestyle affords them a more visible social role. They wear distinctive, brightly coloured costume with peaked masks and an abeyya (outer garment) of gauze and are accomplished drivers, often coming to the rescue of tourists stuck in the sand. They are also skilful craft-makers and may well approach you with colorful woolen key rings and camel bags for sale.
In stark contrast to this is Wadi Bani Khalid, one of Oman’s most beautiful wadis. Continue to Wadi bani Khalid where there is a total change of scenery. The effect of viewing the arid dry desert and the bountiful wadi is breathtaking.
The wadi has clear deep blue water and you will have an opportunity to take a refreshing dip in the spring water and relax under the shade of the palm trees. Catch a glimpse of the pretty villages of Wadi Bani Khalid which cling precariously to the rugged mountainside.
International flights arrive into Muscat. Usually 3-4 nights is required to discover the capital Muscat and the other interior areas.
Niju Joseph Ambakkadan / www.toursopedia.com