How to get the most out of a day in the desert

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The heat was hot and the ground was dry. But the air was full of sound. I’ve been to the desert on a horse with no name. No. Stop. Different story.

My star sign is Pisces and maybe that’s why I can gaze at the ocean for hours and hours. The last 32 years every beach was my happy place. Give me some sand, a palm and the more water the better and then leave me alone for the rest of the day. And then I’ve met Wahiba Sands, one of the Omani deserts. In the moment when our car left the paved road and become one with the sand in three bumps, I was in love. And I then knew: it never has been the water which fascinated me about the ocean, it was the infinity of the view, the infinity of the thoughts. Since then the desert and the ocean, these two opposed things, are one for me.

“The ocean is a desert with its life underground and a perfect disguise above”
America – A Horse With No Name

We’ve only been in the desert for about 24 hours but we did everything one should do when in the desert. Here are my ultimate tips what you should do when you only have one day in the desert.

Get ready for a car race

One of the most fun things we did in Wahiba Sands was a race against two other cars. You have to know that I’ve been in Oman because of a treasure hunt (read more about this here) and although we never really cared about the race factor of the hunt it hit us with full power when we reached the desert. The French team on our right side, the British in our back, there was no other choice than to give it a go like on a German Autobahn. I was sitting on the back seat and the only thing in my mind was: “WOOHOO, what a ride”. But my tummy thought: “uhhhh, what a roller coaster. Maybe I should make her seasick to stop this helter-skelter”. No worry, I was fine. But you actually can get seasick when driving through sand. On the way back out of the desert the other day it was my turn to hit the road and although I always thought it would feel like driving in snow it’s actually more like jet skiing.

Disclaimer: Although it was A LOT of fun it was also dangerous and we all are very lucky people that nothing happened.

Sleep underneath the stars

Although the 1000 Nights Camp, where we stayed, has beautifully designed Arabic tents, it was always my dream to sleep underneath the stars in the desert. So we took our mattresses and blankets outside and made ourselves comfortable under the bright shining moon in Wahiba Sands. And this moon light is way brighter than you would expect. Another thing I really did underestimate is how cold it gets in the desert. I woke up in the middle of the night just because my face was so f***ing cold. But it was one of the best nights of my life. And I woke up to this view. Priceless.

Go dune surfing at sunrise

If you want to catch sunrise in the desert you have to get up at about 5am, get up a dune and sit there and wait. We took some sand boards with us and although I still would prefer ski holidays with powdery snow, surfing the dunes was fun. To get the best impression jump to the end of the post and watch my video.


Bring alcohol and a torch

In the desert things are a little bit different. Don’t forget you’re far away from civilization. Electric generators are only working from 9am to 11pm and although there where candles in the tents in the 1000 Nights Camp, a torch can be very helpful. Same with alcohol as you can’t buy any in the camp.

Ride a camel

I was so excited to FINALLY ride a camel. A CAMEL. My first attempt to get on the camel ended in the sand and so did the second. There is video footage SOMEWHERE but until I get my hands on this I believe the others who said I’ve looked very elegant while falling off the camel. Twice. But my third attempt was successful and I totally know now why they call a camel the ship of the desert, well, it’s fun but comfortable feels different.

What else happened during this day and how sunset and sunrise looks in the desert you’ll see in this video.

Read “5 Things you need to know when visiting Oman” on traveldudes.org if you want to know more about Oman.

Thanks to Oman Air for making this experience possible.