It is evening. All is quiet. From your private cabin, you step out onto desert sands under a sky that’s been set afire with oranges and reds by the setting sun. Sipping your glass of wine, poured for you with a most gracious Omani hospitality, you contemplate the dunes that surround your camp. They, too, are ablaze in a stunning golden hue as the sun takes it final bow behind the distant sea of sand in the west.
Dusk descends. Lights begin to flicker in the pavilion, casting a hushed glow against the colorful, intricately designed carpets hanging on the wall. Soon, you will gather for dinner around the al fresco community table, pillows and conversation all around as a roof of stars glitters overhead like far-off diamonds. But you’re not quite ready to share this experience with fellow diners yet. You find a chair underneath one of the ghaf trees with their tiny, intricate leaves. Sitting there, images of 1,001 Nights dance before your eyes, and the Bedouin spirit washes over you.
The Wahiba Sands are truly a magical place, and in your Discovery Tours small group, you’ll stay overnight amidst their desert splendor, just as Bedouins have done for centuries. Sand dunes here tower as tall as 650 feet, their ever-changing patterns and shifting slopes one of Oman’s breathtaking natural wonders. Some have called the uninhabited Wahiba “a perfect specimen of sand sea” and you’re sure to learn why.
Officially known as the Sharqiya Sands (but originally named for the Bani Wahiba tribe), this desert stretches for 4,800 square miles. Just 30 years ago, Britain’s Royal Geographic Society chronicled the diversity of its terrain and its life – identifying 16,000 invertebrates and 200 species of fauna and birds. Also impressive for a desert, they found 150 species of indigenous plants. To say that such a variety of desert life interested scientists of the day would be an understatement, and it interests them still.
Then there are the dunes themselves. Their graceful crests trace a long line from north to south. Known as “linear” dunes, their razor-sharp peaks are formed by the most meticulous sculptors: the Arabian winds. One comes in from the sea to the east and another from the sea to the south, one acting like a wall to the force of the other. They are constantly shifting, moving inland about 30 feet each year.
It is a privilege to visit here, and to get a glimpse of traditional ways that are quickly disappearing. During your stay, you will stop to visit a Bedouin family in their home, meeting the women in their elaborate dress and full-length abeyya made from gauze. Many of them, despite their demure manner, are skilled drivers in the desert sands. And their intricate crafts are a delight to behold.
Join Discovery Tours on our Explore Dubai & Oman itinerary, and experience the silent beauty of the Wahiba Sands for yourself.