Oman is a melting pot of cultural traditions and hypnotising landscapes. Mix into this hazy heat some truly unforgettable wildlife encounters and swimming spots with a spattering of dramatic coastlines and Oman becomes a must see on any travellers bucket list.
Travel by 4WD through rugged landscapes, visit quaint mountain villages and witness turtles nesting on the stunning white sand beaches. Swim in desert oases, climb colossal sand dunes and take a thrilling ride over them with our experienced drivers. Mingle with the locals in their traditional homes and explore abandoned stone villages before exploring the bustling souqs with ornamental jewellery and intricately hand carved daggers.
Welcome to Muscat! Scenically wedged between mountains and ocean, with old forts and excellent museums, an opera house and flower-filled parks, the gentle city of Muscat is a delight to visit. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the afternoon relaxing at your hotel before enjoying a cooking class at the fishing village of Sidab. Enjoy cooking with the Sidab women whilst interacting with the locals and learning about their culture and traditions. You will be cooking traditional Omani food and have the opportunity to enjoy what you have prepared with the local women.
Enjoy a visit to the Bait Al Zubair museum. This privately owned museum is located in the old town of Muscat and is known for its fine collection of traditional costumes, antique jewellery, weapons and other treasures. Embrace a photo opportunity at Al Alam Palace, the palace of the Sultan, before you visit the Mirani and Jalali forts (outside only). Move on to visit Muttrah Souq, which is one of the oldest markets in Oman, dating back over two hundred years. Its history and antiquities only increase the extent of its beauty, magic and allure. The gold souk here is one of the highlights! Bargain with the locals and see what treasures you can uncover in the labyrinth of twisting and winding alleyways. Dinner this evening is at the Turkish Diwan restaurant. (D)
Overnight Grand Millennium Muscat or similar
Begin your day with a delicious breakfast before departing on your Muscat city tour. Your first stop will be the impressive Grande Mosque which stands exquisitely against the skyline. A beautiful Swarovski chandelier and a huge handmade Persian carpet adorn the main prayer hall. After an architectural competition to select the best design for the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the construction took six years. Please consider the dress code for the visit of the Grand Mosque: Women must fully cover their hair, arms and legs; men must wear long trousers and a shirt. Visits are not possible on Fridays.
A beautiful photo opportunity awaits you at Birkat Al Mouz, one of the most famous villages lying in ruins in Oman. With a large banana plantation and scenic surroundings, the site is also home to the old falaj irrigation system, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which provides mountain water to the villages via a canal like system. It is an enchanting stop that will transport you back in time. Visit the village of Al Hamra, one of the best-preserved old towns in the country and the home of the Bait Al Safa living museum. Stroll in between the old, abandoned buildings and traditional mud houses. Visit the museum and learn about Omani traditions with both men and women demonstrating ancient practices. Stop at the old village of Ghul to see the abandoned Persian ruins. Arrival at Jebel Shams, Oman’s highest point at 3,009m. It is truly an amazing sight at all times of the day. Enjoy the spectacular view of Oman’s “Grand Canyon”. (B,L,D).
2 nights Jebal Shams Resort or similar
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before starting the day with a photo opportunity at Wadi Nakhar, which is one of the most beautiful valleys in Oman. It is a very deep valley and consists of several branches.
The valley is a beautiful destination for mountaineering and hiking. Continue to Misfat Al Abriyeen, a village that boasts amazing agricultural terraces, beautiful alleys, and old houses built on top of solid rocks. The old houses in Misfat Al Abriyeen are traditional mud houses with palm frond roofs and are unique in that they are built on solid rock foundations. Here you will also see traditional Omani irrigation channels (falaj system), where water is channelled from underground sources to support agriculture and domestic use. Visit Nizwa, the former capital of Oman. Explore the 17th-century Nizwa fort with its vast tower and superb views of the oasis. In the bustling souq nearby, you will find local products such as Omani daggers (khanjar), copper, silver jewellery, livestock, fish, vegetables, and handicrafts for sale.
Discover Jebel Akhdar (the green mountain). It is neither green nor a single mountain, but a large grey-brown massif covering more than 1,800 square km with several peaks, rising to nearly 3,050 metres. The mountain range is dotted with Omani villages and in many areas, villagers have dug terraces in parts of the mountain for growing crops. Wadi Bani Habib is one of several interesting villages located on the massive plateau. Jebel Akhdar is also famous for rose water distillation. Of the thousands of varieties of rose, only a few produce the fragrant oil required to make rosewater, ‘damascina’ being prized variety. The rose season begins mid-March and finishes mid-May. (B,L,D)
Overnight at DusitD2 Jebel Akhdar Hotel or similar
After breakfast, set off for a trek in Jebel Akhdar. This is Oman’s premier walking/trekking area offering gentle walks between its villages, to tough traverses of its highlands, to thrilling tramping and clambering in its wadis (gorges). The trek is about 7.5 km long and takes approximately 5-6 hours through spectacular landscapes. The remainder of your day is at leisure. (B)
Overnight at DusitD2 Jebel Akhdar Hotel or similar
Following breakfast, make your decent and visit the Women’s market in Ibra which is held every Wednesday. Visit the enchanting Wadi Bani Khalid. Drive past the village with its endless date plantations until you reach the magnificent wadi. The pools are cool, deep and absolutely stunning. Feel free to plunge in and experience the crystal-clear waters. After lunch, drive to the impressive Wahiba Sands which are vast mass of red and white sand with dunes rising to 200 metres, home to a variety of flora and fauna. Have your own sand bashing fun with our well experienced driver riding the dunes on the way to the camp site. (B,L,D)
Overnight at Arabian Oryx Camp or similar
Breakfast this morning is at your camp site. Witness the sunrise over the rolling dunes as the colours morph with the rising of the sun. Set off before stopping in Jalan Bani Bu Ali at the Hammouda mosque, an architectural masterpiece that has kept traditions alive. The mosque, famous for its characteristic 52 domes, is built in beautiful geometric design. It was constructed in an age that lacked modern technology and engineering. This architectural marvel is the only one in the area that has a falaj or waterway. Continue to Jalan Bani Bu Hasan castle, a solid, squat building that has been well restored (open Saturday-Thursday 08:30-16:00, Friday 08:30-11:00). Arrival at Al Ashkara (named after a poisonous desert plant), the key city of this area. Explore the stunning sandy beaches, where you might see different species of birds. The seas and tides here are very rough compared to the shores of Muscat. Visit the Ras AI Jinz Turtle Reserve, world renowned for the nesting of the endangered green turtle, Chelonia mydas. The reserve is one of the most important nesting sites in the Indian Ocean. (B,L)
Overnight Resort Ras Al Hadd Holiday or similar
Heading back towards Muscat today, trek and swim at Wadi Shab. Fresh water cascading from the top of the mountains meets the briny sea water on its banks, creating an environmental diversity unique to this wadi and making it stand on a pedestal of its own when compared with the other wadis (valleys) in the Sultanate. Stop at Bimah sinkhole, a deep natural depression filled with turquoise water. The locals say that a meteor fell on this spot resulting in the natural depression and forming a small lake. Stop at the fishing village of Quriyat, dating far back into Omani history as a vital sea port. It is well known for its stocks of kingfish and tuna. Transfer to Muscat Airport here your tour ends on arrival. **Trek and swim at Wadi Shab is only feasible if guests have an evening flight or extension night in Muscat** (B,L)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.