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Silent Sands and Shooting Stars

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Have you ever experienced total silence?  Where not even the faintest electrical hum or mechanical whirr disturbs you: the only distraction being the sound of your own breath?  Deafening silence - it really is just that!

As the sun sets into a deep pink and orange glow, the steeply sloping dunes take on a magnitude that is both reassuring and un-nerving.  Protected as you are from the intrusion of big city life, anything could be approaching from the other side of the slope!

It could even feel a bit eerie if it weren’t for the densely glittering ceiling, which descends fantastically above and around you.

To experience the universe in all its glory, undisturbed by light or noise pollution, is a spectacular thing.  And luckily for us, it is not just an ethereal fantasy from a film, but an easily organised overnight trip, and one of the best things to do in Oman, just a few hours drive from Oman’s capital city, Muscat.

Desert camping is a game of many parts and can be as raw or as polished as you like. Getting there is easy with a tour operator, who will arrange everything and do all the driving for you, while the more adventurous travellers (and 4WD owners) will love the challenge of navigating the golden dunes themselves, journeying deep into the Omani desert. You can however, access some camps on the outskirts of the desert in a normal saloon car.

A number of desert camps are waiting to be explored in the Wahiba Sands area, with a choice of accommodation options. You could make like a Bedouin and bunk down in a traditional, simple, heavily woven tent. Or settle into a barasti or concrete hut, like the ones on offer at Al Raha Tourism Camp and Sama Al Wasil Camp. Some have en-suite bathrooms with the amazing aspect of being open to the elements (there are walls for privacy, only the roof is missing!) How nice to shower under the stars.  How weird to have geckos watching you brush your teeth.

Silent Sands and Shooting Stars

Sleeping bags on the floor or duvets on king size beds, you will be kept snug and warm when the sun dips below the horizon because, yes, it really does drop a few degrees in the desert at night.  In fact, you might even need a jumper for extended stargazing sessions.

The camps’ generators are switched off mid-evening, thus creating the serene environment that desert campers are here to find.  However, gas lamps and torches can be provided, so that you may move around the camp without ending up in someone else’s tent, unintentionally. 

Grab a chair, get comfy with a drink and prepare to gaze at the must-see celestial show unfolding before you.  And have your wish list handy because shooting stars are in abundance.

1000 Nights camp has a great restaurant, serving a buffet of local dishes accompanied by Arabic musicians and dancers.  Hefty rustic tables hold parties of people and countless cushions are strewn around to create seating areas on the carpets.

For a 5* glamping experience, seek out the Desert Nights camp, although don’t expect any respect from your hardy beach camping friends.

In true Omani fashion, kids are welcomed and provided for, with play areas, camel and horse rides.  And everyone will appreciate a dip in the swimming pool after a hot day’s travelling.

It’s not all peace and quiet though as come daylight, the thrill seeking begins! 
Sand boarding is exhilarating and requires only a tray or something else sledge-like to sit on and someone to give you a big push. Go down as many times as your legs will carry you back to the top!

Dune bashing in a quad bike will have you flying over the hills, looking and sounding like an oversized irate bee. Or make use of the car’s internal handles and create sand storms on the slopes, with your 4WD.

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Last changed: Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 9:41 am

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