The Fourth Wonder – Wahiba Sands, Oman

It was a sunny afternoon when I discovered Beauty. I had considered three elements, the turbulent seas, the star studded unending skies and the imposing mountains as the most awe inspiring wonders I had ever known. That day I discovered the fourth. It was the hauntingly starved desert. I had seen the desert on television, the biggest it got for me was 32’’. When I saw the Wahiba Sands desert at Oman, I discovered another facet of nature previously unknown to me.

We were picked up at Muscat by our tour guide in a 4 wheel drive. I had no idea what was in store when we left the road and entered the sandy desert.

The Wahiba Sands desert was as vaster than I could see, more beautiful than I had imagined it to be. There was so much sand everywhere. Humongous stretches of ceaseless sand were interspersed with shrubs that looked ravaged by the blazing sun. I saw Sand that had built itself into mammoth dunes which looked more like mountains to me, Sand that was so fine that it felt like water in my hands, Sand that formed beautiful waves styled by the wind, Sand which changed colors from red to white to brown as we changed course in the desert and Slippery Sands on which Camels walked on with ease. I was enthralled completely by the beauty of the whole vista.

Entering Wahiba Sands

Waves of sand

The Wahiba Sands is a popular desert destination at Oman with several camping facilities and tours that organize camps deep into the desert. Many of these are even luxury camps with almost all with running water and some with even a swimming pool! To maintain the ethnicity though, a well thought out cultural program with dances, local cooking etc. is often organized too. We had booked ourselves with one such camp and thoroughly enjoyed the royal treatment.

As we entered, the camp, our senses feasting on the beauty in the bareness, we were treated to refreshing ‘zatar’ tea. We later went ‘dune bashing’ or ‘wadi bashing’ on 50–200 m high sand dunes which was quite thrilling.

The desert that is scorching by day is chilly by night. As the lights grew dim, we washed for dinner and settled in the open area for the cultural program. After dinner, we started star gazing and there were oh, so many stars! The city smoke and fog allows us to see hardly any stars. Deep in the desert, the dark velvety sky was bejeweled with these a massive number of these bright starry embellishments. We star-gazed for several hours trying to figure out the few basic constellations we knew. Far away from civilization, we could see nothing but pitch darkness outside the vicinity of the camp.

We awoke in the spacious tent-room in the desert to a very dewy and chilly morning. A quick breakfast later we were on our way home. It was fascinating to see so many camels out there in the middle of nowhere. We made a halt at one of the local Bedouin people’s homes at the fringe of the desert. Although the Bedouin people or the residents of the desert now have access to the latest amenities, many still lead their lives near the desert, owning herds of camels, or through tourism.

A dewy campsite in the morning

Cute little camel at Wahiba Sands

Serene camels

The way back to Muscat was another visual treat on the Sur-Muscat highway which is a coastal road for a long patch. With bare mountains on one side and the sea on the other, it was hard not to stop at every scenic spot we saw! All in all, a fantastic trip which revealed to us a new element of nature we were hitherto unaware of.

The coastal Muscat-Sur highway

Muscat-Sur higway coast

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Categories: Asia, Oman | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “The Fourth Wonder – Wahiba Sands, Oman

  1. Amruta

    Nice write up
    Few days back only read abt deserts in one of the magazine as
    “The desert holds a Perfect and natural balance between lifelessness And living vibrancy”

    • That is so true indeed. It is strange to see such bareness where not a leaf moves and feel how alive the place is!

  2. Beautiful description of sand stretches of Wahiba with equally alluring pictures! Thanks Richa for taking us on this desert trip and sand safari 🙂

  3. You have spun a breathtaking desert, naked in its beauty, with bare words. Those images deftly compliment your narrative. My only crib: where is that night shot?

    • Thanks so much for the lovely comment. I guess we were too absorbed in the star gazing and didn’t take any worthwhile pics at night!

  4. Picturesque posting of the travel. Well complimented by the snaps too.

  5. Richa, this is so pretty. I loved the road caressing the sea. The pictures are superb and so is your narrative. I would love to visit and vacation in a desert! It is so picturesque.

    • Thanks Rachna for all the comments! A desert is a whole different experience than the conventional beaches/hill stations!

  6. Wonderful post! The place and your description reminded me of our very own pushkar mela. What a fantastic experience you had and you described it very beautifully with equally beautiful pictures! I could visualize it all!

    • Thanks Arti. The Pushkar Mela must be one awesome event I am sure. More than the desert, the experience of the people and the crowds must be overwhelming! Now now, thats one more thing added to my list of to-goes!

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