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The Wahiba Sands desert in Oman is an amazing place. It will be an experience that you will never forget because in this desert you can drive by yourself. Have you always wanted to drive in the desert? Then it’s your lucky day because here you can try it!
Tip: during the week the desert is quiet and serene. But when you visit the desert during the weekend it gets crowded because locals go there to relax and for dune bashing. Both are nice because when we were there during the weekend, some locals took us dune bashing for free. They saw us looking at them and started chatting with us. We even got to drive their car ourselves and try dune bashing. You meet locals if you go during the weekend. We went from Thursday to Saturday, so we got to experience both.
You will see goats and camels roam free in the desert during the day. They are free to go wherever they want and in the evening, they always go back for food and water.
Camels are incredible animals. They are beautiful, they can survive weeks and even months without drinking water and they can run 60 to 70 km/h which is the same as a racehorse. In Arabic there are over 160 different words for a camel. They are very important in some cultures. There are two types of camels, the one humped or Arabian camels and the two humped or Bactrian camels.
How to get to the desert
There are many entrances to the desert. It depends in which camp you will spend the night, which entrance you should take. It is possible to bring the tent and camp yourself in the desert, it is allowed and you will see many locals camp in the desert during the weekend.
The entrance we took starts at the village called Bidiyah. You need to deflate your car’s tires before you head to the desert. You need a 4×4 car and deflate your tires at the Shell gas station to 18psi. Most of the time a person will help you if they see you’re in doubt. Afterwards you need to drive to the starting point of the desert. There is a public toilet there.
Starting point: Shariqiya Sands Starting point
The “sand road” here is well driven, it’s a good road to try driving in the desert. There are three camps on the road:
- Wahiba Bedouin Rustic Camp
- Al Raha Tourism Camp
- Thousand Nights Camp
If you spend the night at one of the camps most of the time food and some other activities are included. Most of the camps also offer more activities for which you pay an extra fee.
Tip: make sure to bring enough cash and a headtorch for during the night.
Important to know before you drive in the desert
When you drive with your car in the desert you need to know some things. What is important?
- Go with a 4×4 car that is in good condition
- Check the condition of your tires and spare tire
- Make sure your tank is full
- Deflate your tires to 15 psi (12 – 18 psi)
- Bring a first aid kit
- Bring plenty of water and food
- A shovel and pump can get handy
- Bring a blanket and enough clothes
- Don’t forget your phone and charger
- Watch videos on YouTube on how to drive a car in the desert
Some extra things that you need to keep in mind:
- Extra fuel, only if you plan to go deep in the desert. You don’t need this to go to one of the three camps I mentioned above because you don’t go too deep in the desert.
- Go with two cars. You don’t need this in this desert because many people will pass by, and you can always contact the camp where you will spend the night.
- Tow rope and a 2-way radio to be extra safe.
Wahiba Bedouin Rustic Camp
The Wahiba Bedouin Rustic Camp is the closest camp to the village. In this camp they do a lot of free activities included in the price of your night. They also offer paid activities. You need to know that there is only electricity from 10 pm.
We met the owner of the camp, and he talks about his youth as a Bedouin. It was interesting because nowadays we have so much technology that a lot of traditions are disappearing. The owner will try to explain all the traditions.
Bedouin is like a group of nomads that live in the desert. They live minimalistic and the goats and camels are really important for them.
Information about the free activities and events when we stayed at this camp were:
- 6:05 am: sunrise
- 7 am – 9 am: breakfast
- 8 am: milking goats
- 5:20 pm: sunset
- 6:20 pm: traditional Bedouin dance
- 7:30 pm: dinner
- 8:30 pm: campfire
Some other activities you can do:
- Dune bashing: half an hour or one hour (from 20 OMR to 30 OMR)
- Camel ride: short experience, half an hour or one hour (from 4 OMR to 17 OMR)
Besides driving in the desert there are many more things to visit in Oman. Read about all the places you should visit in Oman on the blog Road trip in Oman.