Leaving Muscat after breakfast we make our way to the coastal road that runs between Muscat and Sur. After short stops at the Bimah Sinkhole and White Beach, we turn away from the sea and head up the northern face of the eastern Hajar Mountains. Following a steep gravel track that, in a short time, takes us to the peak of the impressive Selmah Plateau over 2,000 m above sea level. Views to the north are of the Arabian Sea and, to the south in the hazy distance, the Wahiba Desert.
This track passes ancient villages that were, until a couple of years ago, only accessible on foot or by donkey. This long, west facing ridge is spectacularly lined with numerous beehive tombs built by the Umm Naa people around 2500BC. Here we will stop for a delicious and freshly prepared picnic lunch.
By mid afternoon we leave the mountains behind us and head through Ismaiyyah. Passing the 18th Century fort at Mudayrib, we leave the tarmac road behind to enter the desert and drive the final stretch on sandy tracks before reaching our camp, set-up with the russet red dunes.
The Wahiba Sands is a stunning desert of parallel valleys of sand dunes stretching north to south. Bedouin live, mostly on a seasonal basis, in the dunes tending to their camels.