Desert calling

With the change in weather from hot to normal temperatures and the transition of arid deserts to a lovable vastness, it’s the time for nature lovers to experience the highly diverse terrain and topography of the country.
From rugged mountains, long stretches of golden desert to blue water wadis, Sultanate offers some of the best terrains for campers to lay down a camp, sleep under the stars and feel the sound of silence.
For scores of Omani desert tour operators, the change in weather is the beginning of yet another fruitful season, as the number of foreign tourists keeps increasing as weeks pass by.
“Yes, it is the beginning of the season of desert camping. It was good for us last year and we have had a good number of foreign guests throughout the season,” says Arshad, Assistant Manager of Arabian Oryx, a local SME.
Dozens of desert camping SMEs operate in the country, with the majority around Al Sharqiyah where the sand deserts are aplenty.
“Like last year, this year too we have several good enquiries from overseas some of which have materialised into bookings”, said Mohammed Zuhair of Sama al Wasil, another Omani desert camp service provider.
“The season has just begun and the number of visitors is very low to begin with. However, we are expecting a sound response from the tourists which mostly comprise foreigners and locals,” Rethish, representative of Safari Dunes in Bidiya said.
The desert camping tourism is considered unique by a large chunk of explorers for its ingenuity and the unmatching experience that is on offer. Most of the camps are located in and around the Rimal al Sharqiya (Wahiba Sands) in the North Eastern province and offer a true Bedouin experience. Eco-friendly accommodations, trekking activities, camp fire, tent, food at night and other desert activities are matching second to none and has more international takers than the local guests.
Identifying the importance of desert tourism, the Ministry of Tourism offers its wholehearted support to this sector.
The ministry is in the process of organising a camping exhibition for tourist companies specialised in tours and camping to help in bringing the tourists and tour and camping companies together.
“This initiative is to increase the number of tourists and tourist groups interested in camping from inside and outside the Sultanate and this will provide an opportunity for promotion of the available camps and required facilities such as shops, restaurants, toilets, swimming pools and electricity,” Anwar al Balushi, Director of the Department of Tourism Events at the Ministry of Tourism, said.
During the exhibition, awareness lectures would be organised to introduce the tourists about the sites suitable for camping, preventive measures, cleanliness, health, and regulation of the camping areas and how to install camps. The exhibition will also have the cooking, sports and cultural activities.
Also, a lecture on camping will be held which would tell about the types of camps being available in the market, the first aid and the likes. Maps about the suitable places for camping would also be distributed at the occasion.