For four consecutive years (2012 - 2015), I have been camel trekking throughout the Ash Sharqiyah Sands formerly known as the Wahiba Sands, but after attending a presentation by British explorer and desert dweller - Mark Evans, I got inspired to write about my journeys desert crossing Oman.
Dune driving in the desert is quite an experience especially if your driver is a skilled-one who can safely steer the 4x4 up and down the steep golden dunes that lead to the camp.
Once at the camp, the comfort you experience at the 1000 Nights Camp is unparalleled to other camps in the vicinity; here you can lounge by the pool, go dune bashing during the day, hike the highest nearby dune to experience the majestic sunset and then roll down, sandboard or walk down the dunes back to your oasis in the desert!
At night, as you enjoy your dinner, a group of bedouin shows up to dance the night away to the rhythm of drums and the Arabic oud - a pear-shaped guitar.
The camel trekking begins ...
This journey is not as epic as the 49 days desert dwelling trek that a group of Omanis and Mark Evans bravely accomplished from Salalah, Oman through the Empty Quarters and into the towers of Doha, Qatar recreating the first desert crossing that took place in 1930 by the Omani Sheikh Saleh bin Kalut and the Briton Bertram Thomas. Learn more about their historic journey here.
Nonetheless, in our own epic way, we started our trek throughout the desert for 2 nights and 3 days accompanied by 10 camels and 3 local bedouin guides. Camel trekking is the desert's oldest means of transportation.
We trek throughout the desert for 8 km every day. We trek 4 km in the morning until we reach our first stop around noon to be well-received and delighted by a well-deserved lunch buffet and plenty of water and juices to replenish our strength for the afternoon trek.
After eating lunch under an improvised tent, we all succumb to a midday nap; an hour later, we embark on the last 4 km trek to our final destination of the day where we will set up camp and spend the night under the starry night and the vastness of the desert.
As we reach our desert camp site, we notice that we will be doing so next to the camp site of a local bedouin family. As a result, our Omani guides introduce us to the family who welcomes us with their traditional bedouin coffee, flat bread cooked in the desert and some dates.
Afterwards, the young local guides challenge us to a few desert games which include a running competition, a camel race we politely declined and a high jump competition.
In the evening, we are treated to the bedouin desert cuisine which is known as arcilla and which consists of rice with lamb cooked underground and laboriously stirred by hand in order to achieve a pasty consistency. My conclusion: A very delicious meal worthy of not being missed by anyone visiting this region!
The 2 nights and 3 days we did our desert crossing throughout the Ash Sharqiyah sands was filled with sand dunes and once in a while, a dust storm would cross into our path prompting us to improvise a tent to seek shelter.
There are no major sites within this area but rather extraordinary beauty and uniqueness of its landscape and the vast solitude of the desert. However; throughout these past 4 years, I have been able to witness how climate change has brought more greenery into this desert. When I first trekked here back in 2012, it was just a plain barren desert; nowadays, more and more desert bushes keep appearing ... to the joy of camels and locals alike!