Classic Oman Holiday
8 day holiday from - £1,995 per person based on 2 adults sharing a double/Twin room. Excluding international flights.
Return to Oman Holidays
- See and scale the incredible vast dunes of the Wahiba Sands and spend 2 nights in the desert
- Explore mystical desert forts and castles
- Beautiful coastal scenery and the opportunity to spot rare turtles nesting on the beach
- Superb scenery of Jebel Akhdar and ancient mountain villages
- Wander in the atmospheric souqs of Muscat and Nizwa
- Enjoy the breathtaking views at the vast immensity of Jebel Shams Grand Canyon
Suggested Classic Oman Holiday Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival Muscat (Drive – 30 mins)
Arrive in Muscat and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, there may be time to explore the city. Overnight at Al Falaj Hotel.
Strategically situated at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, Muscat has been an important trading town on the vital crossroads along the maritime Silk Road between east and west for at least two millennia. During the 16th and 17th centuries it changed hands between Portuguese and Turkish invaders several times before returning to local control. Since the late 1700s Muscat has been the Omani capital, but it was the discovery of oil in the 1960s which saw Muscat mature from a small harbour town into a large and modern city, fuelling a vibrant economy and a multi-ethnic society as workers from countries such as India arrived in search of work. The modern city lies glistening white against the rugged brown mountainous backdrop and encircles the Old Muscat, a walled town on a natural harbour which houses excellent examples of traditional Omani architecture and a couple of Portuguese built forts dating back to the 16th century. Museums and majestic gatehouses tell of a stately past which sits curiously comfortably alongside the modern opulence – so it is with Oman country-wide.
Day 2 – Muscat – Sur – Ras Al Jinz (Drive – 3 hours in total)
Today drive through spectacular scenery of rugged mountains, layered in graphic sandstone and limestone levels, towards Sur. En route visit Bimmah Sink Hole and Park, a limestone chasm whose turquoise waters are simply mesmerising. Afterwards, continue to Wadi Shab, a gorgeous oasis with inviting pools where it may be possible to take a dip. After lunch, continue to Sur, renowned in the past for its dhow shipyards, before reaching Ras al Jinz on the coast, the easternmost point on the entre Arab peninsula. After an early dinner, visit the turtle sanctuary at Ras Al Jinz for a breathtaking experience: at night, green turtles, after a journey of thousands of kilometres, come ashore to lay their eggs. Overnight Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve. (B, L, D)
The attractive coastal town of Sur has long been known for its tradition of dhow building, its shipyard continuing to produce these mighty vessels which have formed such an important part of Omani culture and trade over the years, although these days there is less demand. Today it’s a relatively quiet town where one can walk through traditional markets surrounded by Omanis in their typical national dress, and it’s a good place to get a feel for local culture. Sur played a role in the slave trade for many years, being a conduit for slaves brought from East Africa on their way to the markets of Arabia, and it took many years for this practice to be eradicated in Sur after it was officially outlawed.
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
The Turtle Reserve was established in 1996, whilst the eco-tourism project dates back to 2008, with an aim to significantly reduce the impact of humans on turtle welfare. It is set amidst a pristine natural landscape, with flawless shorelines lapping against gilded deserts, dappled with verdant oases, all against the ever-present tableau of chiseled mountains. The setting plays host to one of the key nesting sites of the endangered Green turtle and allows you the privilege of witnessing the nesting habits of this noble creature close-up. Whilst sightings are not guaranteed you have an excellent chance of seeing them all year round. The site was originally a scientific reserve, but visitors are now allowed to be on hand to watch the humbling experience as these giants of the deep – adults can grow up to 45 inches long and weigh nearly 400lb – emerge from their vast migratory journeys and dig, bury and depart from their clutch of eggs back into the ocean’s anonymity.
Day 3 – Ras Al Jinz – Wadi Bani Khalid – Wahiba Sands (Drive – 2½ hours; Drive – 1½-2 hours)
Drive to Wadi Bani Khalid – an oasis spot in the middle of barren and dry mountains. It is one of the most beautiful wadis in Oman and its pools with clear deep blue water give you an opportunity to take a refreshing dip. After lunch, we head into the Wahiba Sands, a vast sea of undulating red and white sand. The ever-changing patterns and kaleidoscopic colour shifts of the dunes are a photographer’s delight. After some exciting sand dune driving we reach our desert camp for the night. Overnight 1000 Nights Camp. (B, L, D)
The Wahiba Sands are characterised by enormous rolling dunes, some as high as 150 metres, stretching as far as the eye can see – a quintessential desert landscape that is as beautiful as it is austere. Named after the Wahiba tribe, the region is home to Bedouin who manage to eke out an existence around the few oases, and is also home to a surprising amount of wildlife. Immortalised by the travels of Wilfred Thesiger, a journey into the sands offers a superb opportunity to experience desert wilderness. Wildlife is, despite the aridity and relative lack of vegetation, very much out there: Arabian sand hares, White-tailed mungo, Desert foxes and the Arabian Wolf are all worth watching out for and reptiles abound. Bird watching is also surprisingly profitable, with a range of species of vultures, eagles, falcons, wheatear and nocturnal owls all on offer to the sharp-eyed.
Bedouin is a collective name given to a variety of desert dwelling tribes, spread out from the Arabian Peninsula to North Africa. Traditionally the Bedouin were largely nomadic, taking their large goat hair tents and moving to find pasture for their flocks throughout the arid desert wastes. Although different tribes were united, typically the Bedu would live separately in their family groups – a necessity so as not to put excess pressure on the meagre resources of the landscape. Nowadays modernity has taken its toll on traditional Bedouin life, as many have settled in towns and cities in search of a more secure existence, but many nomadic families still exist. The recent imposition of national borders on the homelands of the Bedouin has also acted to circumscribe traditional patterns of migration. The Bedouin are, nonetheless, still famed for their culture of hospitality which dictates that they treat all visitors as honoured guests.
Day 4 – Wahiba Sands
Full day at leisure in the Wahiba Sands. Enjoy lunch at a Bedouin House, sampling local food and coffee as well as exchanging cultural experiences in their home. A range of activities are available from the desert camp, which should be booked in advance: these include Camel Safari, Horse Safari, 4-wheel dune driving, 4 wheel drive desert exploration at sunset and sunrise, Desert Trekking with a Bedouin guide. Of course you may prefer to simply relax and drink in the serenity of the views over the dunes. Overnight at 1000 Nights Camp (B, L, D)
Day 5 – Wahiba Sands – Ibra – Jebel Akhdar – Nizwa (Drive – 5-6 hours total)
Morning drive to the historic town of Nizwa, Oman’s cultural capital. Before reaching Nizwa we visit Ibra’s Old Houses, in an ancient settlement, surrounded by peaks and characterised by its beautiful souk and watch-towers. Continue to Jebel Akhdar via Birkat Al Mouz. In Arabic Jebel Akhdar literally means ‘green mountains’ and is an escape from the relentless hear of the plains. The area is famous for its gardens, farms and terrace plantations. We visit Wadi Habib to see one of the remote villages and its walnut and fruit plantations of fruits such as apple, apricot and pomegranate. We then continue to Nizwa. Overnight at Al Falaj Daris Hotel. (B, L, D)
Jebel Akhdar (literally ‘The Green Mountain’) is part of the Hajar Mountains, which stretch for about 190 miles from North West to South East, with their highest peak, Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun) rising to an impressive 9872 ft. The higher parts of the region receive enough rainfall to allow agriculture and many traditional fruits and vegetables are grown on the slopes, such as pomegranates, walnuts, apricots, grapes and peaches, hence the mountain’s name. The area is also the prime spot for the breeding of honey bees. This is one of the most scenic areas in Oman, and is mostly inhabited by members of the Bani Riyam tribe. Jebel Akhdar was the scene of some fierce fighting between rebels and Omani and British forces in the late 1950s. The landward slopes still bear an ancient fortress – Birkat al-Mawz – which has recently been restored, following its collapse.
The town of Nizwa has historically been a very important oasis offering respite from the often harsh landscape surrounding it, and is a key centre for growing dates. However it is far better known for its splendid fort built in the 17th century and painstakingly restored in 1990. The fort is vast and contains many different sections, including a Koranic school, a mosque, a prison and living quarters. Once the capital of Oman, Nizwa became an important centre for trade and education, profiting from its strategic position between Muscat and Dhofar. The town has been extensively modernised under Sultan Qaboos bin Said, but retains its flavour, especially in the back streets of the old souq. Its most celebrated industries include tanning and leather work, manufacture of halwa sweets and precious metal ornaments, all of which are in evidence in its shops.
Day 6 – Nizwa – Jabrin Castle – Bahla - Jebel Shams (Drive – 2½ hours)
This morning we visit Nizwa souq and the lively livestock market as well as the famous fort, built in the 17th century. Then proceed to Jabrin castle, constructed in the 17th century and one of the finest of its kind. Its magnificent plasterwork, the carved doors and the painted wooden beams of the ceilings make this castle very different from others in Oman. The excellent audio guide significantly adds to the tour, as does the superb vista from the battlements. Afterwards continue to Bahla, one of the oldest small towns of Oman and, in the 12th century, the local tribal capital. You stop here and admire the photogenic views of the city and its magnificent fort before continuing to Jebel Shams, where you will overnight in the mountains. Overnight Jebel Shams Resort. (B, L, D)
Day 7 – Jebel Shams – Al Hamra – Wadi Bani Awf – Muscat (Drive – 5 hours in total)
After breakfast, imbibe the gentle zephyrs that caress the summit whilst soaking up the spectacular view of the ‘Grand Canyon of Oman’. You then drive to Al Hamra and Misfah, to see one of the oldest villages of this region. The traditional mud houses, dating back 400 years, are still occupied. After an early lunch, we head to Wadi Bani Awf, the end point of the canyon and enjoy a superb window on what is called the ‘Snake Gorge’, coiling through the core of the precipitous mountain cliffs. This is a simply stunning part of Oman with fantastic prospects of the surrounding scenery. You drive to the town of Nakhl with its fully restored fort, clinging determinedly to a rocky outcrop, before arriving in Muscat for the night. Overnight at Al Falaj Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 8 – Departure Muscat
Explore Muscat on a half-day city tour. Visit the beautiful Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, one of the largest examples in the Middle East. Then drive through the old walled district of Muscat and visit Bait Al Zubai Museum, showcasing the rich culture of Oman. You also visit Muttrah Souq, where the practice of bargaining for handicrafts and silver items is one you will soon master! In the afternoon you will take a sunset cruise, with the backdrop of the city and its island fortress, looking out for the frequently seen accompanying dolphins, before transferring to Muscat airport for your return flight. (B, L)
If you wish to add a beach break on to your trip or perhaps extensions to the deep south around Salalah or to the Musandam Peninsular, then there are many options and please contact us for details.