Wahiba Sands is named after the Wahiba bedouin tribe that lives nomadically among the golden desert sands. Also known as Sharqiya Sands, the dunes here are huge – standing up to 330 feet (100 meters) high in the north.
A true desert, the dunes and the chance to sleep under the stars attract many travelers. Dune bashing in 4x4s is especially popular, as is sandboarding and quad biking. For a more peaceful trip, treks, camel and horseback rides guided by local Bedouins are beautiful ways to experience the desert, which moves at a speed of up to 33 feet (10 meters) a year. There are no permanent settlements in Wahiba, though Bedouins often set up camp at the Al Huyawah oasis to gather dates.
Known for its rich biodiversity, Wahiba Sands is home to 180 native species of plants, as well as over 200 species of animals, including birds. If you’re here at twilight, look out for desert mammals’ footprints in the sand, when they head out in search of food.
Three hours from Muscat and 1.5 hours from Sur, Wahiba Sands is accessible by car off the Muscat-Sur Highway at Al-Mintirib. Running 112 miles (180 km) from north to south, it is possible to drive across the desert on your own but highly inadvisable to go without a guide. The best time to visit Wahiba Sands is outside summer, from October to April.