A night under the stars in the Oman desert is a gem alone, but there’s much more to a desert tour – from climbing dunes with a 4x4, to riding camels and smelling the perfume of an incense forest.
Crossing the desert from north to south till it opens on the Arabian Sea will lead you to the wild coast of Al Wusta, against the backdrop of a blue sea. But a 2-hour drive from the capital Muscat is enough to reach the easily accessible Wahiba sands.
Then back on the 4x4 to Rub al-Khali, the second largest desert in the world after the Sahara, covering a quarter of the Arabian peninsula and belonging to Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It was named the ‘Desert of deserts” by the explorer Wilfred Thesinger and is known as the Empty Quarter.
The dunes, with colours ranging from gold to copper, will work their spell in many ways, starting with its inhabitants. Excursions with the Bedouins, who originate from the beautiful A'Sharqiyah Sands, or a visit to their homes will reveal the soul of the place, with its silences and wildlife.
Camping at night you’ll enjoy the unique feeling of sleeping under the stars, to then wake up to explore the flora of the desert. This is not renowned simply for its sudden beauty, but even more for its perfume. In the Rakyhut, a region bordering Yemen, the incense tree Boswellia grows.
The four sites of the Land of Frankincense were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, along with the ruins of Khor Rori and the remains of a caravan oasis, crucial to the medieval incense trade.
And after the dryness of the sand, one can relax wandering around the ancient city of Nizwa, famed for its history, culture and local handcrafts - a verdant oasis full of rivers, orchards and palm trees surrounded by inhospitable mountains and a dramatic coastline.