When I went to Oman, one of the things I really wanted to see was the desert. Wahiba Sands is a desert located 2-3 hours from Muscat, which was perfect. When I did research about Wahiba Sands, I found a few other attractions in the area as well, which we visited on the same trip. Our route for this road trip was Muscat – Bimmah Sinkhole – Wadi Shab – Sur – Muscat. We did all this in a day, and we used around 12 hours.
Bimmah Sinkhole is a popular weekend destination among Omanis, as it is only 1,5 hour from Muscat. The local name is Hawiyat Najm Park, which means Falling Star. The legend says that a meteor hitting the earth created the hole, but science has later rejected this theory – the hole was created by natural erosion. Anyways, the sinkhole is such a beautiful place because of the turquoise water it is filled with. The place is like a paradise – the word “sinkhole” is not a good word for describing it!
Driving further down the coast for 20 minutes, you will find Wadi Shab. It is known as the most beautiful wadi (valley) in Oman. Honestly, the wadi did not impress me. I guess it is more beautiful if you walk further into the valley, but it also requires you to swim some places because there are no paths.
After Wadi Shab you reach the city Sur. The city is famous for its turtles, but you can only see them at certain times, so we did not see them. The coastal city is beautiful and if you have time, you should spend some time here. As we had limited time, we just drove through the city.
Wahiba Sands was our next destination. Driving in the desert by ourselves was not an option for us, as we do not have any experience with it. We parked our car in the village Bidiyah and were picked up by a driver. We had pre-booked a 2-hour desert drive. The price came at 35 OMR (90 USD), which was a real bargain compared to the other options we found. At the hotel, a Wahiba Sands trip for two would cost us 280 OMR (730USD), and we could not find it much cheaper online either.
Our guide/driver from Safari Desert Camp was a local Omani with some English knowledge. “It rains here one or two times a year”, he told us. The skies where heavy and dark, so I wondered if the yearly rain would come today. It did not, but the skies stayed dark for the rest of the day (sadly that meant no sunset for us!). The driver told us that there are not as many Bedouins living in the desert as before. “Many Bedouins live in the desert during winter and by the coast during summer. Many have also moved from the desert permanently because the schools are too far away”. Education is free in Oman, but not mandatory for children. Today, only 75% of the children in Oman are attending school.
We could see small farms all over the desert when we drove through it. We could not see any people there – only camels and goats. “Many people have their animals out here and check on them once a day, while they live in the village”, our driver told us. “The Bedouins living in the desert all year round also holds camels and goats. They come to the village once a year, during summer, to sell their animals and buy supplies, before they go back to the desert for another year”. What a life – I cannot imagine how they manage to live in the desert. I do not even understand how our driver managed to navigate; everything looked the same to me. However, the desert trip was amazing, and I am very happy we got to do it!
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