Updated April 2020, What It Was Like To Camp In The Wahiba Sands, Oman was originally written in February 2020
Me: Yeah I know how to drive in sand.
Narrator: She, in fact, did not know how to drive in the sand.
French Sponge Bob narrator’s voice: 30 days later….
Me: Asks nervously “should we buy sand plates?”
Them: Nah, you know how to drive in sand.
Don’t worry, I didn’t get us marooned in the Omani Desert, it turns out I was okay even though all the bluffing I did about the knowing how to drive in the sand. We didn’t get stuck, not once.
The Wahiba Sands were high up on all our to-do lists for our Oman road trip. Who would want to pass up a chance to sleep under the stars with nothing but the silence of the desert surrounding you? Okay, I know a lot of people would pass up on this chance… but the three of us aren’t a lot of people, so there we were, free camping in the Wahiba Sands. We had a look at camper trailers beforehand to see about maneuvering our luggage, as I didn’t want to just pack it all in one vehicle.
In this quick guide to camping in the Wahiba Sands, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to camp out here in the Omani Desert independently. There are several desert camps and glamping setups around here in the Wahiba Sands, but we opted for a do-it-yourself version (ie: not very glamorous, but still ridiculously fun).
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Getting To The Wahiba Sands
We accessed the Wahiba Sands from nearby Jalan Bani Bu Hussein and followed some lonely jeep tracks out into the undulating desert. From Jalan Bani Bu Hussein we followed a road north to the small hamlet of Fulayj Mashayikh before continuing northward. The road eventually T’s off, from which we headed west until the road ended. At that point we stopped for a minute to gaze out over into the endless sea of sand dunes, we’d finally made it to the Wahiba Sands. From the edge of the Wahiba Sands, we continued along jeep tracks into the sea of dunes towards the northwest. We climbed sand dunes, with me flooring the Landcruiser as fast as I could (with sweaty palms gripping the steering wheel of course) between mountains of citrine-colored sands, passing camels and the occasional abandoned settlement (I’m guessing the inhabitants were out grazing animals for the daylight hours. We eventually turned around and came back to camp about 10 kilometers north of where we left the end of the road.
With all that said, there are multiple ways to get to the Wahiba Sands. Other points of access are Al Mintirib/Hawaiyah, Redda/Aflaj, Sinaw, and Hijj. Al Mintrib/Hawaiyah is typically the easiest place to begin traveling into the Wahiba Sands from. There is a route we had read about prior to our departure that bisects the Wahiba Sands from north to south, but it’s generally recommended to go with a guide as the dunes can be difficult to navigate, it’s easy to get stuck and it’s even easier to get lost out here.
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The Best Time To Visit The Wahiba Sands
It’s generally recommended to avoid visiting Oman between April and September as temperatures are diabolically hot. The winter months of November to March are the best with the coolest temperatures.
Don’t miss the beautiful Bimmah Sinkhole on your Oman vacation
What It Was Like To Camp At The Wahiba Sands
Camping in the Wahiba Sands is an ethereal experience. After bashing through dunes all day we eventually settled on our first campsite. I had been on the lookout for where we would camp as I didn’t want to park the jeep right on the tracks, and also didn’t wanna sink our Landcruiser in the sand. Eventually, we approached the perfect spot- a hardened patch of compressed rock-like desert sands, just off the jeep tracks, smack between two massive dunes. This was it- it was late afternoon, the wind was howling and the light was going to soon begin to change.
Looking for more things to do in Oman? Check out my 12 best adventures in Oman post
Take a hike and explore magical Wadi Shab
Wahiba Sands Packing List
- 4WD vehicle + sand plates and shovels: Realistically you cannot explore the Wahiba Sands without a 4WD vehicle. If you do not have a 4WD I’d advise booking a night or two at a desert camp and arranging them to pick you up From the Muscat-Sur Highway or from Al Mintirib. Sand plates and shovels are recommended in the event you get stuck out here.
- Tent: Bring a tent to go camping, unless you don’t mind sleeping in the car.
- Blankets or sleeping bag: To stay warm at night. In the winter it can get a little cool at night out in the Wahiba Sands.
- Carpet or tarp: Not totally necessary, but a nice addition if you want to sprawl out and relax without getting sand everywhere.
- Drinking water: Typically it’s recommended to carry at 3 liters per day, per person.
- Food: We stocked up on easy to prepare foods from shops as we traveled through Oman. Also, Oman has canned hummus and that is one of the single best (and delicious) inventions of all time if you ask me.
- Camp stove and camp cooking set: Camping is a popular activity in Oman and we found it quite easy to find a camp stovetop and gas canister from a camping store near Quriyat. It was possible to purchase cooking sets in Muscat, but you could always bring one from home too.
- Inreach Explorer+: In the event you get lost out here I’d recommend carrying a GPS/SOS beacon.
- Bradt Oman Guidebook: Helpful in planning your visit to the Wahiba Sands and beyond.
- An extra can of gasoline: The Wahiba Sands are massive and there are no services once you are out in them, so I’d recommend carrying a gas can with you just in case.
- Scarf: To help keep the sand out of your face.
- Layering clothing: In November when we visited we found that the temperatures were quite a bit cooler at night than in the daytime in the Wahiba Sands, so layering clothing were a great option for keeping cool and warm when needed.
- Sunglasses: The sun is intense out here.
- Sandals: We climbed the dunes barefoot, but I’d recommend having a set of sandals handy for kicking around camp.
- Moisturizing lotion: Because the desert is dry AF.
- Lip balm: For the same reason as above.
- Sunscreen: The sun is intense, so don’t burn yourself to a crisp. I recommend this organic sunscreen.
- Baby wipes: To try and keep the sand cleaned up off of you after a long day playing in the desert.
Not Into DIY Desert Camping?
No problem! There are several desert camps in the Wahiba Sands.
Budget Desert Camps
Midrange Desert Camps
Camel’s Adventure Desert Camp
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Legend Desert Camp
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Queen Desert Camp
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Luxury Desert Camps
Looking For A Wahiba Sands Tour?
There are several day tours on offer from Muscat, overnight desert camping and combination Wahbia Sands + Wadi Bani Khalid tours. Shop all the different Wahiba Sands tours on Viator.
Have Any Questions About Visiting The Wahiba Sands?
Ask in the comments section below!