Destinations

Desert camps for Arabian Nights fantasies

What better way to live out your Arabian nights fantasy than by spending some time in Oman’s desert camps?

Surrounded by sand with endless stars on show each night, it would be a travesty to visit Oman and not experience the long-standing lifestyle of Bedouin nomads.

Here's the pick of camps. 

SAFARI DESERT CAMP 

Live like a Bedouin for a night at this camp in the Wahiba Sands. There are twenty basic tents, kitted out with carpets, Bedouin chests and proper beds. There is an open-air bathroom to the side of the tent. The camp adheres to traditional Omani culture and on arrival guests are served mint tea, dates and Omani coffee, which is called kahwa. The culture continues to dining in a majil, with tables that are low to the ground and cushions for seats. The camp uses its own camels and 4WDs, so touring is an option for guests. The drive from Muscat takes around three hours on good-quality highways. Camp staff can collect guests from nearby villages for a trip across sand dunes, making the arrival as exciting as the destination. There is also a sand dune buggy, camel rides and even the option to dress as a Bedouin for a night of dancing. 

1000 NIGHTS CAMP 

One step up from the Safari Desert Camp, 1000 Nights has a pool that you could mistake for a mirage in the sandy haze. There is a range of accommodation, from the basic Arabic tent with shared bathroom, the Sheik tents with en suites to the Sandhouse for larger groups. During the day you can join in activities such as sand bashing. A quick scamper up the dunes near the camp allows you to watch sunset from the top – it’s spectacular every time.  

There is Bedouin dancing entertainment in the evening as well as a buffet meal – often lamb baked underground, rice and salad. Sand boarding and dune trekking are included in the stay while coffee with a Bedouin family, fireworks, horse safaris, sunrise breakfasts and sunset dinners in the dunes are chargeable extras that will make your stay extraordinary. 

ARABIAN ORYX CAMP 

Touted as the true Bedouin experience, this camp is named after the oryx, one of the few mammals endemic to this region. “I wanted to create a welcoming environment where I could share the beauty of the desert with my guests,” owner Hamdan Al Hajri says. “There is no better way to do that than sitting around a camp fire, listening to traditional music, sampling wonderful food and sharing stories among friends,” he adds.  

There are 37 air-conditioned abodes which are less tent, more room. Food is prepared traditionally, either cooked over the campfire or sand-baked with the option for in-room dining or in a shared dining hall. A unique activity offered at this camp is the chance to drive to Wadi Bani Khalid for a cooling swim in the clear water pools. 

DESERT NIGHTS CAMP 

This desert camp is the go-to for luxury, with 30 Bedouin tents spread out over four hectares for privacy. The five-star rooms have outdoor “sit-outs” in the Omani style complete with bean bags and bench, linen canopy beds, tiles and the kind of bathroom you wouldn’t associate with camping, complete with slippers and bathrobes. The tents are also air-conditioned, a godsend in the desert heat which can reach more than 40 degrees during the day. It does however get cold enough to warrant a campfire in the evening, adding to the romance. 

The oils of frankincense and myrrh are ever-present in this camp. While other camps will charge extra for private outdoor dining, this camp allows you to choose between a meal in an air-conditioned dining room or dinner under the stars. After dining, there are telescopes for stargazing as well as a Bedouin band and an Omani oud player.  

Bench International offers an 18-day Sultan, Safari and Spice tour which travels to the exotic locals of Oman, Tanzania and Zanzibar and incorporates two nights at Omani camps, including one night at the luxury Desert Nights Camp  



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