Stretching over 125 miles (200 kilometers) from the Eastern Hajar Mountains to the Arabian Sea, the Wahiba Sands (also known as Sharqiyah or Sharqiya Sands) are Oman’s adventure playground. Named after the nomadic Wahiba Bedouin tribes, this desert region is known for its amber-colored sands and towering sand dunes, some standing up to 330 feet (100 meters) high.
A desert safari is a must to experience Oman’s natural wonders, whether its dune bashing in a 4x4, taking a sunset camel ride, or zipping through the dunes on a sandboard or quad bike. Small-group or private tours leave from Muscat or Bidiyah, and typically include a picnic lunch at a traditional desert camp, swimming at Wadi Bani Khalid, and a variety of optional activities.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Heading off-road in the desert is only recommended as part of a guided tour with an experienced local guide.
- It can get hot in the desert and there’s little shade, so bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. A scarf to protect your face from the sand is also recommended.
- There is no cellphone coverage or Wi-Fi in the area.
How to Get There
The Wahiba Sands desert is about a 3-hour drive from Muscat, off the Muscat-Sur Highway at Al-Mintirib. The most popular way to visit is as part of a guided tour.
When to Get There
The best time to visit Wahiba Sands is during the winter months from October to April. During the summer (May to September), temperatures can reach 104°F (40°C) or more.
Wildlife of the Wahiba Sands
Wahiba Sands is renowned for its unique desert ecosystem and surprisingly rich biodiversity. Some 180 native species of plants, as well as more than 200 species of animals, can be found in the desert, including vipers, desert hares, sand foxes, and birds. The best times for wildlife watching are at sunrise or sunset, but guides will often point out animal tracks as you trek through the desert.