Close to nature: wild camping in Oman
Omanis may be considered a camping people, and the country's young population in particular has set a trend here. This is no surprise – because underneath the open sky in the midst of the Sultanate's spectacular landscapes, closeness to nature and the glow of the stars in the night sky, where distant galaxies shine in competition, can be enjoyed intensively. But how does wild camping work in Oman, what do travelers need to bear in mind and where are the most beautiful spots? A brief guide.
A nation known for its warm welcome towards tourists, very low crime rates that make Oman one of the safest countries in the world, as well as warm, sunny weather and a low population density create the best conditions for camping experiences in the south-east of the Arab Peninsula. Outdoor lovers hardly need to worry about rain, cold or even dangerous animals in Oman – instead, a fresh breeze drives away the heat of the day, while impressive landscapes show their best side in the evening light or at sunrise – usually with no visitors around.
Wild camping permitted (almost) everywhere
Nature lovers can camp almost anywhere in the country at the site of their choice and free of charge. Restrictions only apply to nature reserves such as Ras al Jinz, private grounds and the Muscat Governorate, where a camping permit has had to be applied for since the end of last year (available here). In addition, a respectful distance should be kept from villages and other inhabited areas. Otherwise, there are no limits to the spirit of adventure: whether in the midst of fjord landscapes or lonely sandy deserts, on a rocky outcrop in the high mountains or between turquoise-blue natural pools in a wadi – on the road in a rented off-road vehicle with a normal tent or roof tent or even in a camper van, the fascinating Sultanate can be explored particularly well "off road".
A pick of the best camping locations:
• Beautiful beaches: For those who like to spend the night directly on the beach will find beautiful places to stay at Ras Madrakah Beach near Duqm in Al Wusta, which lies between black rocks, on the sandy beach west of Khasab in Musandam or Al Fazayah Beach south of Salalah in Dhofar. Close to the capital lies Al Sifah Beach with golden sand and a dune at the back as shelter from the winds.
• Mountain panorama: On the plateau of Oman's highest mountain Jabal Shams at 3,075 metres, travelers can spend the night on the edge of a canyon that drops almost 1,000 metres. The camping site of Jabal Akhdar is located on the Saiq plateau at around 2,300 metres where, in addition to 360-degree views, the rose blossom beckons in the month of April. Those who prefer an even more remote location can visit the traditional mountain village of Wakan, surrounded by terraced gardens and especially popular with hikers. Please note that it can get very cold at night in the high mountain areas.
• Picture-perfect deserts: The sand deserts Sharqiya Sands, about three hours by car from the capital Muscat, and Rub al-Khali, with its up to 300-metre-high dunes northwest of Salalah, promise campfire romance in lonely desert areas. An exceptional camping site located in the first-mentioned desert represent the Sugar Dunes near Al Khaluf, where the desert merges directly into the sea.
• Hidden spots: A walk through the salt flats off Masirah Island brings bird lovers with portable tents to Barr al Hikman, where a lagoon lines the white sand beach. Here, flamingos, spoonbills and great egrets can be seen. On Masirah Island itself, where it can sometimes get stormy, endless beaches await camping enthusiasts - and thanks to the prevailing wind conditions, the best kite spots in the country.
Information on campsites, supermarkets, freshwater stations, petrol stations, etc. is provided by various apps, such as the iOverlander app. A vehicle with four-wheel drive is not a must, but highly recommended so even remote locations can be reached.
When renting a vehicle with a rooftop tent in Oman, a cold box, cooking utensils, solar shower, water containers, sleeping bags, a table, chairs and many other amenities are usually part of the package.
Information on where to park, find fresh water, supermarkets and filling stations etc. is available via various apps, including iOverlander. A vehicle with four-wheel drive is not a must, but highly recommended so even remote locations can be reached.
For additional information on the Official Host Country of ITB Berlin 2024: www.experienceoman.om.