Oman – A Journey in Aromatic Arabia

Experience a truly unique journey into Old Arabia, minus the glitz of the Gulf States

Oman is a hidden gem, a real success story in the Middle East! Here you will find an intoxicating mix of incredible scenery and a fascinating culture, inviting you, the traveller of today, to experience a truly unique journey into Old Arabia, minus the glitz of the Gulf States!

On our 14 day tour we travel around the country taking in the sights, both natural and historic, from the lovely coastal city of Muscat in the north, then down south to Salalah and the Empty Quarter, once the centre of the ancient incense route. Oman is a great choice for a holiday as there is something for everyone. Come to enjoy the spectacular mountain, desert and coastal scenery, and meet the friendly Omanis who have immense pride in their heritage and traditional culture.

Why not join us on another wonderful adventure in 2024? We would love to have you along!

Arrive Muscat.  You are met upon arrival at the airport and transferred to the Naseem Hotel or similar (2 nights/all meals).  We meet our guide in the late afternoon for a tour of nearby city sights including the forts of Mirani and Jalali, constructed by the Portuguese during the 16th century, and Al Alam Palace (exterior only), the official residence of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, the ruler of Oman. We finish our sightseeing with a visit to the vibrant Muttrah Souq, an exotic market precinct within walking distance of our hotel. By the time we arrive, the souq will be coming alive for the evening. Here you will find a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from brass lions, ceramics, silk, nuts and dried fruit, with the aroma of spices and frankincense filling the air.

Dinner tonight in a local restaurant. 
Overnight Muscat.

We start the day with a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a magnificent building completed in 2002. It is home to one of the largest Swarovski Crystal Chandeliers in the world and the world’s largest one-piece hand stitched Persian carpet made in Khorasan, Iran, which occupied 600 female weavers full time for four years. The whole structure reveals rapturous homages to several architectural styles across the Islamic world. Then drive through the embassy district to Qurum where we visit the Royal Opera House, a simply beautiful building reflecting the unique
ontemporary Omani architecture. Commissioned by the late Sultan Qaboos in 2001 and built by the same architects as the Grand Mosque, it opened in 2011 with a performance of Turandot and Placido Domingo singing the lead role.  Stop for lunch then move on to the Bait Al Zubair Museum to view a fine collection of traditional clothing, antique jewellery and weapons. Finally, we head down to the marina to board a traditional dhow for a 2-hour sunset cruise. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

Today we leave the city and have a lovely scenic drive east through the spectacular East Hajar foothills to the attractive fishing village of Qurayat. Continue to the Bimmah Sinkhole, one of several in Oman, 70m wide and 30m deep.  It was created when a limestone roof of a cave collapsed.  Drive to Sur, a small coastal town that played a central role in overseas trade with east Africa.  The town has long been famous for dhow building and is still the centre for ship building in Oman today.  Stop for lunch then visit the Maritime History Museum that has displays showing the ship building tradition with several models of dhows and everything related to Oman’s sea trade. 

Check into the Zaki Apartment Hotel or similar (1 night/all meals).

This morning, we visit the shipyards to watch the ship builders at work, then drive on to Jalan Bani Bu Ali. Here we visit the unusual 11 th century Al Hamuda Mosque (restored in 1990), famous for its 52 domes that provide hidden ventilation for the mosque. Stop for lunch then drive to the great Wahiba Sands where dunes 200 km long and 100 km wide run south from the Eastern Hajar Mountains to the Arabian Sea. The dunes are 100-150 metres high in shades of orange through to amber. Bedouin camps are dotted along the tracks and trails and there are sporadic stands of single-species woodlands. Where the sands meet the ocean there are outcrops of beautiful aeolianite (sand compressed into rock) then the beaches mellow into soft shades of yellows and whites.

We spend the night at the comfortable Arabian Oryx Desert Camp or similar (1 night/all meals).

We leave our desert camp and drive to the town of Al Mudhaireb where we can see fine old buildings with magnificently carved doors built by wealthy merchants. Continue to Manah, Oman’s old capital city in the 16 th century.   We visit the old town and the outstanding Across the Ages Museum.  The Museum, designed by Cox Architecture, an Australian company, is a cultural and educational landmark for all Omanis, taking the visitor on a vast, sweeping journey through time. It traces the story of Oman from the first settlers of prehistory to the present, spanning different ages, dynasties, and civilizations.  Stop for lunch then drive to Nizwa for check in at the Date Palm Inn or similar (2 nights/all meals).   Nizwa was the capital of Oman in the 6 th and 7 th centuries.  An important crossroad at the base of the Hajar Mountains, it was once a centre of education and art.  Our two day stay in Nizwa and its close surrounds will provide us with a fuller and more rounded impression of the northern part of Oman. 

Overnight Nizwa.

After breakfast we spend an exciting morning at the livestock market where farmers from around the country come to Nizwa to buy/sell cattle and goats. It is quite a spectacle!  We walk to Nizwa’s great 17th-century fort, one of the most impressive in all of Oman. The fort was designed with various ingenious devices used to repel invaders. Among these were ‘murder holes’, slots
through which defenders could pour boiling date syrup on the heads of attackers as they climbed its stairs!   Climb to the top of the tower to see the date palms encircling the town and the view of the Hajar Mountains.  There will be free time to explore Nizwa’s souq, which is renowned for its intricately hand-carved silver daggers, silver jewellery, handicrafts, rosewater products, beauty creams and spices.  Stop for lunch then drive to the nearby oasis town of Birkat al Mawz (‘Pool of Bananas’) for a walk through the extensive date plantation. 

Return to Nizwa.

After breakfast we drive to the town of Jibreen, once an important centre of learning for Islamic law, astrology and medicine.  Here we have an opportunity to visit the equally impressive castle built in the 17 th century.  Then to Bahla to visit a remarkable set of battlements which forms part of a 12 th century fort built by the Bani Nebhan tribe.  Time permitting, we can visit the traditional souq which is famous for local pottery. Continuing our exploration of the Al-Dakhiliyah Region, this dramatic, mountainous area has outstanding scenery. 
Stop for lunch then drive up to Jebel Akhdar (3000m) part of the Al Hajar mountain range, and another spectacular part of Oman. The region is an important agricultural area growing dates, pomegranates, nuts and is famous for the rare rock roses that is used in many traditional Omani fragrances. In fact, the climatic conditions of Jebel Akhdar have made it an important location for the cultivation of a wide variety of different crops, subsequently leading to the development of terrace farming techniques to capitalise on the precious water supply.

We check into the Hanging Gardens Guest House or similar (1 night/all meals).

After breakfast walk with our guide on the trail above Wadi Al Muaydin to view the spectacularly arranged terraced villages where most of the market gardening takes place.  Then drive down to Al Hamra, a mudbrick town situated at the foot of the Hajar Mountains and overlooking an extensive date oasis. It is interesting for its well-preserved two and three storey houses built in the Yemeni style.  Then drive up a dramatic, twisting road to the village of Misfah Al Abriyeen for an extraordinary panorama of agricultural terraces, valleys and old houses built from local stone. We walk through the narrow alleyways of the village and on trails along the edge of encompassed plantations where we will learn about the falaj system, the traditional Omani irrigation channels where water is channelled from underground sources to support agriculture and domestic use.  It is a fascinating insight into life in a traditional Omani community at the heart of the Hajar Mountains.  Stop for lunch then drive into the Batinah region and on to Nakhal, a village surrounded by thousands of date palms, where we will visit the beautifully restored 19th century Nakhal Fort, with a sweeping panorama of the plantations and mountains that can be enjoyed from the ramparts.

Continue to Muscat and check into the Hilton Garden Hotel or similar (1 night/all meals).

Transfer to the airport for our flight to Salalah, the perfume capital of Arabia.  We are met upon arrival and transferred to the Arabian Sea Villas or similar (3 nights/all meals). The route from the airport winds through lush plantations of coconut, papaya, banana and mango.  Salalah is Oman’s southernmost city in the province of Dhofar, an area famous for long white beaches, ruggedly beautiful landscapes, vast deserts, and a rich history rooted in the ancient frankincense trade. There is a subtle African flavour here not found elsewhere in Oman.  After lunch we visit the Museum of the Frankincense Land to visualise the importance of this product to the region.  Then we will have a walk through the aromatic alleyways of the Old Haffa Souq, famous for frankincense and perfumes made by local Dhofari women.  Each woman has her own secret recipe! 

Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

This morning, we drive west initially through dusty wadis to Raykhut, then behind soaring cliff tops with spectacular ocean views to Mughsayl. This is a beautiful beach area, great for swimming, and bird watching. Here we will see the best frankincense groves in the region – one of the few types of vegetation to survive in this arid habitat. Continue driving up to the plateau of Jebel Qamar for a spectacular view of the
coastline. Then drive along a wonderful mountain road with breathtaking scenery to Al Fazayah Beach for a picnic lunch. Return to Salalah around 3.30 p.m.

Dinner in a local restaurant.  Overnight Salalah.

After breakfast we drive east to explore the fishing village of Taqah. Here we can see the sardine fishermen energetically hauling in the morning catch. Then moving on to visit the very interesting Taqah Fort, where we can see a fine example of coastal fort architecture displaying the traditional interior of a Dhofari house with the original floor plan, furnishings and architectural features. Leaving the coast, we drive up into the mountain range of Jebel Samhan, past limestone caves, acacia and frankincense trees, to the plateau at 1300m for a breathtaking view of the east coast and the Jebel Qara mountain range.  Stop here for a picnic lunch then drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sumhuram.  In 1000BC it was the greatest city of Southeast Arabia and a powerful port which controlled the frankincense trade route inland through Arabia to Jerusalem, Alexandria and even Rome.  The ruins have been extensively excavated and restored, with a lovely natural setting between the hills and the coast. Return to Salalah for overnight. Dinner in the hotel.

We leave Salalah this morning with our bedouin guides for an overnight trip to the desert.  The Empty Quarter, or Rub al Khali in Arabic, is the largest continuous sand desert on earth, the Sahara being larger but with more stone than sand. A vast expanse of sand, covering about 650,000sqm of the Arabian Peninsula, stretching from the United Arab Emirates in the North, touching Oman in the East, and covering a huge portion of Saudi Arabia – an area about the size of France.  This is the heartland of the nomadic Bedouin, and the setting for Wilfred Thesiger’s classic book Arabian Sands. The dunes of the Empty Quarter move about ten metres every year and our Bedouin guides must constantly update their mental map of the landscape: recognising old dunes withering while watching young ones grow tall. It is easy to understand why Thesiger loved this place. For him it meant indescribable freedom…and of course there is no adventure quite like being in the middle of nowhere! 

Overnight in the very comfortable fixed desert camp (proper beds and shower facilities available).

We say goodbye to the desert and drive back to Salalah for overnight in the Arabian Sea Villas or similar (1 night/all meals).

Transfer to the international airport for onward flight.


A$7484 per person twin share, single supplement A$1025


  • all accommodation
  • English speaking guide
  • all transport by landcruiser
  • domestic flight from Muscat to Salalah
  • all meals as specified
  • airport transfers.