Wahiba Sands, officially named A'Sharqiyah Sands, is the most accessible of Oman’s deserts. Huge golden dunes stretch as far as the eye can see, and the sun creates a kaleidoscopic change of colours throughout the day, including reds, golds, blues and pinks. After the sun sets the sky is illuminated by a vast blanket of stars, and so it is well worth spending the night at one of the desert camps.
Wahiba Sands is located towards the centre of Oman, with the edge of the desert around a three-hour drive from Muscat or Nizwa, or only around 90-minutes from the coastal town of Sur. The periphery of the desert offers an almost extra-terrestrial landscape, with jagged rock formations and steep mountains on one side, and the rising dunes on the other. Hidden amongst the foothills, there are picturesque wadis; deep canyons which usually feature running water. The most well-known of these is Wadi Bani Khalid, which has water year-round and provides opportunities for swimming and canyoning. Heading towards the dunes there are also pockets of greenery, with lush date palm oases creating a striking colour contrast against the sand.
There are plenty of adventures to be had in the desert, from dune bashing and sand boarding to camel rides and, depending on the camp, quad biking. Wahiba Sands is also the home of the Bedouin, and it is possible to visit local encampments to learn about day to day life in this arid environment.
Camping options vary from rustic to luxurious. For those happy to spend a bit more, there are some exquisite private camps, offering an exclusive and secluded experience.