The Shaqyriah, also called Wahiba Sands, are in my opinion THE highlight of any trip to Oman! There are many deserts on this planet, but the Wahiba Sands are surely what comes closest to what one has in mind when imagining endless sand dunes of various shapes, heights and colors. It simply goes as far as the eye can see, and beyond… You come here to experience and enjoy this endless immensity, the total quietness of the desert, with only the wind on the dunes as a background music, and marvel at the sheer beauty of this so hostile nature.
At that point, I would like to (strongly) advocate a few points, in my opinion very important:
- You should stay at least 2 nights, and afterwards we regretted that we didn’t stay 3 nights / 2 full days in the deserts. This desert is so magnificent, so far away from everything we normally know, so “exotic” (using the etymologic sense of the word), that it deserves enough time to let this unique atmosphere impregnate you.
- The Wahiba Sands have turn increasingly popular, and unfortunately, local offer has adapted to the demands of an adrenaline seeking clientele, with more and more activities on the program. Quads are a real nuisance! First, they have a very strong, very negative impact on a fragile ecosystem. Second, their horrible noise is a terrible disturbance for anyone within miles.
- Try to select activities that both respect the environment and will enable you to truly experience the desert: camels are the ancestral way of moving around in this environment, for a good reason! The whole day camel trip into the desert is a great option, and do not be scared: it is easy, it is relatively comfortable, and during the hot hours, you will stop at a temporary camp site and actually rest in the shade.
Now what should you consider when choosing the camp:
- Do as you wish, but I would advocate against going alone in the desert… You can easily loose any orientation and navigating the dunes is not an easy task.
- Try to be as far as possible into the desert: the camps at the edge of the desert are somewhat of a rip-off (check on Google Maps)
- Be clear on your comfort expectations, knowing that electricity means a generator roaring days and night.
- Be clear about the number of people you will want around you. There are some very large camps out there, so ask yourself: do you want to experience the desert in a small group or with larger crowds?
- Check the activities on offer, and ovoid at any cost those camps offering adrenaline pumping activities, that will have a strong, negative impact on the environment and the ecosystem and will create strong nuisance for your experience and for neighboring camps
- Nomadic Desert Camp, so simple, offered us a really pleasant experience: family run (the only Omanis with whom we really had a chance to exchange with somewhat more in length), offering total quietness and a pleasant desert experience. I went there twice (January 2014 and February 2022) and can only recommend them.