It was only couple of weeks ago when my friends invited me to join the Desert Safari in Wahiba Sands. Wahiba Sands is located in Sharqiyah region which is 4 hours drive away from Muscat. It is a desert measuring 180 km from north to south, 80km from east to west and with dunes 100-150 meters high. Anyone who comes and visit Oman should never miss Desert Safari experience! Part of the Desert Safari activity is doing the sand dunes crossing where 4wd enthusiasts drive and explore the desert all together via convoy. We used Nissan Patrol that accommodated 4 persons in the car just enough to do desert driving.
It was a weekend activity. We left Muscat at 3.30 pm and reached meet up place at 6.30pm in Al Kamil. Before we reached the meet up place, we put a full tank of gasoline in preparation for the crossing at the last gas station before entering the Wahiba Sands. In Al Kamil, all of the participants in the crossing registered and each paid 45 OMR/ 117USD/ 5,445 PHP. From there, preparations were made for the 4 wheel vehicles that will join the activities such as removing the air out of the tires in a level appropriate for driving in the desert. Participants brought their own 4wd cars. At exactly 7 pm, we left Al Kamil going to Wahiba Sands and it was done via convoy. There were like 50 4WD cars joined the event. All the vehicles entered the Wahiba Sands together. When we reached the camp site, we first set up the tent where we will be sleeping. We used torch as our light in the desert while other participants slept on their cars. It depends on whatever works for you in the desert. As expected, there was no signal also for the mobile in the desert. Foods were ready at the event as part of the registration fee. There was a food truck that catered the food and it was served in a buffet style. Arabic foods were served. We also brought some emergency foods, water and other essential things needed in the desert such as the tent, spray shower, shovel, lamp etc. We were also lucky it didn’t rain that hard because Oman was having a bad weather that time. The first night at the Wahiba sands was spent sitting, talking, fun times and star gazing. The sky is so perfect to have this moment in the desert.
The next day the real adventure started. The organizer made a briefing to those who will drive on the dunes as well to the participants of the activities. Driving education was prerequisite for safety reasons and tips were also given on how to drive on the desert. It also discussed the tracks to be followed. There was a track for those who wants to experience driving in a very extreme way and there was the chill track who are for the first timers and those who doesn’t want to be pressured and just enjoy the sand. Even if I didn’t drive in the desert, it was interesting to know some of the facts imparted on the orientation. It gives you an idea, the techniques in driving in the desert and yes, it was only that time that I realized how challenging it could be. There were male and female participants on the event which is really impressive! Seatbelt is a must while doing the sand dune crossing as well.
Our friends who drove the car took the chill track. At first, it was pretty smooth driving on the desert, but after a while the dunes were getting higher and steeper and it was getting tougher. Though it was the chill track, I don’t think it was really easy terrain. Our car got dig in on the sands for how many times. The car’s tire got off the rim as well! But it was okay, as it was part of the adventure in the desert. There were persons/ organizers (The Guide) who are fully equipped to assist participants whose cars got trapped on the sands. It is really a challenging activity in the desert. The good thing everybody was just having fun! Sand dune crossing is never a competition or a race.
The good thing about crossing, we were able to visit different areas of the desert that will give you a glance of the beauty of Sharqiyah Desert. Wahiba Sand (Sharqiyah sand) is really huge! The sand is simply spectacular! The color ranges from red brown to light brown. If you happen to see one area with beige sand color then near the coast it is almost white! I was really fascinated of the place. It is truly a gem of the country.
Part of the adventure too was camping out. We camp out the first night then moved to another place the next day so building the tent was part of the so called adventure in the desert. We brought our own tent. Accommodation is not part of the registration. If you will ask if there was a toilet, oh well there was a toilet truck just enough to keep everything in modesty. My friend brought a portable tent toilet that made our life easy but you can’t really prevent yourself to pee if there is a call of nature.
There were some fireworks too on our second night. On our third day, the options were given to the participants either to go back to Al Kamil to end of the activity or continue and take the track going to the coast then out of Wahiba Sand. We took the track going to the coast. It was really such a beautiful desert! The sand on the coast enchanted me, so far my favorite part of Wahiba Sand! We almost reached the road going back to Muscat late afternoon. We had our cars’ tires inflated with air again before driving back to Muscat.
I really had fun doing the Desert Safari. It was something new to try! Sand dune bashing gives you such a different adrenaline rush. The camping out activity gave me the opportunity to learn how to live in a primitive way and survived in the desert. In addition to our mini adventure, my slippers got lost on the second day while we were having pictures on the desert! Imagining how big the Wahiba Sands and the number of cars joined, someone picked up my slippers in the middle of the desert and returned it back to me. Indeed, such a memorable desert Safari in Oman.
My slippers and I will be together for more adventures to come!
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