• Oman Camping Road Trip

    Everything You Need To Know

OMAN CAMPING ROAD TRIP

If you’re an outdoor lover, Oman ticks all the right boxes for a camping road trip adventure. In fact, it’s hard to think of another country that could rival it for such an incredible, rewarding, convenient and safe experience. With a superb infrastructure, cheap fuel and legal wild camping, Oman is one giant adventure playground just waiting to be explored.

With deserts, mountains, beaches and wadis to discover, camping truly offers the most rewarding experience. And in a country where accommodation can be a huge cost, it certainly keeps the budget in check! With two Oman road trips under our belts and a month spent wild camping throughout the country, we’ve got some vital tips to share. Here you’ll find everything you need to know to plan your own Oman camping road trip.

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WHAT CAR?

Oman is made for off-road adventures and hiring a 4WD is the best way to explore. There’s no denying that this will set you back twice as much as a 2WD, but we guarantee you’ll have twice the fun. Plus, if you’re camping you’ll be saving a huge chunk of money that would otherwise be spent on pricey hotels, so why not take advantage of everything Oman has to offer?

Our Toyota Fortuner is caked thick with mud as we tackle the final wadi on our 26 day Oman camping road trip

Off-roading through Wadi Al Abriyeen

A decent 4×4 costs from around $40/day, a 2WD $20/day. There are a number of car hire agencies at Muscat Airport, making it easy to pick up and drop off at the airport. We always use Holiday Autos to book our hire cars and find they have the best deals.

Check what documents you’ll need in order to pick up your rental – you might need an international driving permit for example. If you plan to drive in the UAE also, check that your rental company will allow cross-border travel. There is usually a fee for this, payable upon pick up. We had to wait a day for the insurance documents to be prepared and return to pick these up so it’s worth requesting this in advance so your documentation is ready when you arrive. If you use Holiday Autos the team can arrange this for you if you ask and the documentation clearly outlines what you need, plus all the T&C’s. Some travel insurance policies cover for car rental excess, so take this into consideration when deciding on a policy. We travel with World Nomads insurance cover – you can get a quote here.

A 4WD will allow you to go almost anywhere, making the most of Oman’s excellent off-road network. We often joke about how Oman’s off-road roads are better than many countries’ regular roads – an absolute pleasure to drive on. They criss-cross the country, linking mountain villages and remote beach towns, often a mere stone’s throw away from a main road yet a world apart. Many of Oman’s best wild camp spots require a 4×4 to reach, and hiring one will give you far more freedom and flexibility.

Renting a 2WD will still allow you to visit many of Oman’s highlights, but in our opinion it isn’t best suited to a camping trip. You’ll find yourself having to park up and carry your camping gear to the best sites, or compromise and settle for less spectacular spots. If it’s all the budget can stretch to though, it’s still doable – check out our best wild campsites post for some great 2WD accessible camping suggestions.

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EQUIPMENT

What exactly will you need to embark on a camping road trip?

Oman’s major hypermarket chains have pretty much everything you need if you’re looking to get set up from scratch on arrival. Or, of course, you can travel with your own gear from home. We found mixing and matching a bit was the perfect balance between comfort on the road and the practicality of flying with all our equipment.

Camping Gear

Tent

Widely available and cheap (from 5 OMR) in Lulu and Carrefour, but not necessarily the best quality or able to handle windy/wet conditions. If you have your own, it’s probably best to bring it. We travel with our Big Agnes Copper Spur and love it. The MSR Hubba Hubba is also a great option. 

Sleeping Mats

Basic camping mats, blow up mattresses or raised camping cots are all available in the hypermarkets. We used our Thermarest mats which are amazingly comfortable, lightweight, and packable.

Sleeping Liner/Bag

It can get cool up in the mountains at any time of year but often too warm for a sleeping bag by the coast, so having both a liner and a bag is a good idea. You can pick up a sleeping bag in the local hypermarkets, but best to bring a liner with you (silk is our preferred material).

Pillow

Best to bring a packable camping pillow with you, but normal bed pillows are easily available.

Camping Chairs/Mat

Easy to pick up from 2.5 OMR

Miscellaneous

Headtorch/Lamp

Toilet Paper

Travel Towel

Pen Knife

First Aid Kit

Bug Spray

Suncream

Small Trowel
(for digging a toilet hole)

Cooking Gear

While you could plan stops around cafes and restaurants for meals, having your own cooking equipment and food will allow you much more freedom.

Stove & Gas

The main gas canisters that are widely available in hypermarkets are the dumpy European Campingaz style (like this) or tall cylindrical nozzle type (like this). The tall ones are the most easily available across small stores, too. It’s hard to source the dumpy screw in type (like this) outside of the Sultan Centre in Muscat. Therefore, choose your camping stove accordingly!

Given that you can throw everything in the car instead of having to pack it on your back, buying a tabletop camping stove is the most convenient option. You’ll be able to buy the required gas almost anywhere, and the stove is nice and stable. We picked one up at Lulu for 5 OMR after running out of Kovea gas and having our other small burner break.

Pots, Dishes & Cutlery

If you plan on cooking for yourself you’ll need a few basics. These can all be bought easily in Oman, or bring your own if you already have a camping cook set.

pot

bowl

cup

spork

We also bought the following to make life easier and allow us to cook the sort of meals mentioned in the food section below:

sharp knife

chopping board

assorted utensils bundle

small cool box

Tupperware (for leftovers)

And if you’re a coffee addict like us, we highly recommend this travel coffee dripper.

You can buy wood for a campfire at the hypermarkets and you can also pick up a portable BBQ pretty cheaply, plus bags of coal if you wanted to cook this way. Personally we stuck to our stove to keep costs down.

Charging & Staying Connected

Unless you plan on hanging out in coffee shops and malls, attached to the wall socket for extended periods of time, you’ll need to pack some extra equipment in order to stay fully charged on your Oman camping road trip. It’s also a good idea to pick up a local SIM in order to stay connected.

Car Charger

This is the easiest way to charge your electronics on the move. Most rentals will have a USB socket so make sure you have the appropriate USB cables for your devices with you. A USB cigarette charger adapter is also useful for being able to charge multiple devices at the same time. You can buy these easily in most supermarkets/shops if you don’t have one with you. If you have a laptop you want to keep charged, you’ll need an inverter in order to use the power supply from your car. We had to hunt around a bit but eventually found one in Carrefour Muscat, lurking around in the car section. If this is a must for you, best to bring one from home. 

Solar Panel

Another option for keeping charged is to harness the power of all that lovely sun you’ll be basking in. Solar panels are lightweight and portable, meaning you can carry them with you on day hikes easily. They’re great around camp too, allowing you to keep everything charged even on short drive days.

Power Banks

It’s always a good idea to have a power bank on you when you’re out and about, or for that overnight charging of your phone when nothing else will do.

SIM Card

Oman is well connected, with mobile phone reception and data connection reaching far and wide. In more remote locations it is a bit patchy, but you’re unlikely to go more than half a day without getting a signal. Picking up a local SIM when you arrive at Muscat airport is quick and easy. We opted for Omantel, but there are a few others, such as Ooredoo, to choose from. You can get a set package from around 1 OMR. We paid 15 OMR for 12GB over 30 days.

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FUEL

Fuel is cheap in oil-rich Oman, costing 0.23 OMR/litre. In our Toyota Fortuner we averaged around 7.5 KM/litre, doing plenty of off-roading.

Over 29 days we spent $414 on fuel covering approx 5100 KM, less than 14% of our total budget. Your fuel economy will depend on the size of your vehicle and how much on/off-roading you do, but these figures are a good guide.

Most petrol pumps are manned so you just let the assistant know which fuel and how much you want and they’ll do it for you. Some take cash only, others both cash and cards. Petrol stations are widely available, however if you’re heading off in more remote areas be sure to fill up and check in advance where local petrol pumps are. A spare jerry can of fuel in the boot is also advisable. To avoid problems it’s a good idea just to fill up any time you see a petrol station (within reason!) instead of waiting until you’re running low. Only once (south of Shanna Port/Masirah Island) did we encounter a station without fuel.

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GETTING AROUND

Oman’s infrastructure is top notch and driving is easy, safe and enjoyable. Generally speaking Google Maps (iOS/Android) is better than Maps.Me (iOS/Android) when it comes to navigating here, although a combo of the two can be useful. Just remember to download the maps in advance in order to use them offline.

Google satellite view is particularly useful when hunting out off-road trails, figuring out alternative routes and getting an overview of the landscape. The Oman Off-Road book is also incredibly helpful, providing GPS coordinates for key points along the routes outlined. This makes it easy to pinpoint them on Google Maps/Maps.Me and navigate to/from/between them.

A copy of an Oman Off-road book and a vehicle manual - a must for any Oman camping road trip

The excellent Oman Off-Road book and all important car user manual

If you’re not accustomed to driving a 4×4, or your rental vehicle model is new to you, take some time before setting off to look through the manual and familiarise yourself with the basics. Read up on how/when to switch between H2, H4, and L4 modes. Know what to do if you get stuck in sand, mud, sabkha, etc.  Better to know in advance than be rifling through the glove box in a precarious situation! Your 4×4 should include a tire pressure gauge for letting out air before driving on sand.

Road signs directing us on the dirt roads of Wadi Bani Awf in Oman

Road signs are in Arabic and English and easy to follow

Road signs are generally easy to understand and the condition of Oman’s roads are excellent. Drive on the right. Speed limits are clearly indicated and your car will likely start beeping if you go over 120KPH, the max speed limit on the main highways. We found other drivers to be generally courteous, but should you encounter a situation be sure to keep your cool – raising your voice, getting angry or making erroneous hand gestures are not the done thing and could land you in serious trouble with the law.

CAMPING

How to Find Camp Spots

There are no official campgrounds in Oman, just a giant wild camping playground. This means a certain degree of roughing it, but an immense sense of freedom. Wild camping is legal anywhere, apart from a very few nature reserves and, of course, on private land. With so much choice, how do you decide where to stay and make sure you’re pitching up in the most scenic spots? We found a combination of three resources to be best – iOverlander, Google Maps satellite view and the Oman Off-Road book.

iOverlander

This open source mapping app is great for identifying potential camping spots. It’s used by overlanders all over the world to share information about, well, just about anything useful to someone doing an overland trip. There are loads of wild camp spots marked in Oman, including GPS coordinates, a brief description and sometimes even a photo. Some of our favourite spots came from iOverlander (iOS/Android), and we’ve added a few great ones too.

The tent sits on the sand next to palm trees, in front of an imposing rocky outcrop in Oman

Camping in Wadi Suneik, a wonderful spot found thanks to iOverlander

Google Maps Satellite View

This is great for scouring the land in search of a nice beach, flat patch of land or such like. Be sure to download the map in advance so you can access it everywhere.

Oman Off-Road Book

This book saved us so much time and effort, directing us to many an awesome camp spot. Suggested wild camps are marked for just about every route, making life (and planning) very easy. Highly recommended!

Putting the tent up in a flat clearing among the creamy white Sugar Dunes, a true highlight of our Oman camping road trip

Setting up camp in the Sugar Dunes, south of Masirah Island. We never would have found this spot if it wasn’t for the Oman Off-Road book.

Want to know where the best wild camp spots are?

CHECK OUT THIS POST

Where to Camp

From a legal perspective you can camp almost anywhere in Oman. From a safety and environmental point of view however, there are a few things to consider before pitching up.

Beach Camping

If you’re planning to camp on or near a beach, be sure to check the tides. Do an internet search to get exact tide times and heights (prior to losing internet connection!). Tides are highest when there’s a full or new moon, and higher during the night compared to day. Take a look around the beach and the last tide mark should be obvious. You can judge a safe camping distance based on this, and knowledge of whether the next tide will be higher or lower. Survey the area and opt for higher ground. We made a mistake on our second night camping at Bandar Al Khiran and woke up in shallow water! We thought we had pitched far back from the tide line, but failed to notice we were camped in a lower channel where the tide swooped in, cradling the dry section higher up.

Our tent pitched on the beach at Fazayah, a must visit destination for any Oman camping road trip

Wild camping on Fazayah Beach, south of Salalah

Wadi Camping

Wadis are seasonal riverbeds, often dry but prone to flash floods in the event of heavy rain. Be extremely cautious if camping in wadis, checking the weather for both the immediate and surrounding areas. Distant rain can run off the mountains and cause a flash flood in a wadi far away. If you are camped in or near a wadi, pack up and move on at the slightest hint of bad weather.

Nature Reserves

Oman has a number of turtle nesting beaches, most notably at Ras Al Jinz but also stretching the length of the east coast and on Masirah Island. Do not camp on any beach marked as a nesting beach. Your presence could prevent a female from laying her precious eggs.

CAMPING DO‘S & DON’TS

Leave no trace should be your mantra while wild camping in Oman. It’s your responsibility and obligation to ensure you clean up after yourself (even if others don’t, which is sadly often the case).

Rubbish

Have a dedicated rubbish bag around your camp and put all your waste in it straight away to avoid forgetting about it or having the wind blow it away. We re-used supermarket shopping bags for our garbage. Stick your bin bag in the boot until you come across a public bin to dispose of it in – they’re everywhere in Oman from beaches to mountains.

Toilets

You’re going to be doing a lot of bush squatting. A small camping trowel is ideal for digging a hole to ‘do your business’ in. Dig about 6 inches deep, at least 50 metres away from any water source/camp site and cover over the hole when you’re done.  Do not bury your toilet paper as animals will dig it up. Either burn it if you have a campfire going or bag and bin it. Be sure to have some hand sanitiser on you to disinfect after.

You can find public toilets at petrol stations, supermarkets, shopping malls, etc.

Campfires

Be smart about where you light campfires. Avoid anywhere that could pose a fire risk and be sure to light it far away from your tent. Use an existing (or make a new) fire ring of rocks, keep it small and supervised. You’ll need dead, dry wood to burn. Make sure you extinguish the fire fully before going to bed.

A family sit around a campfire on the beach with the lights of a distant town glimmering in the distance

Campfire on the beach at Al Jadi, Musandam

FOOD

Oman’s supermarkets are well stocked, easy to navigate and found in every major town and city. The main contenders are Lulu and Carrefour. Smaller local shops with more basic/limited supplies can be found in villages throughout the country. A little forward planning and the occasional detour into a town will ensure you never go hungry on your Oman camping road trip.

Supermarkets/Hypermarkets

So what kind of food can you find in Omani supermarkets? Well, just about everything you’d expect to find in a supermarket back home, but with a middle eastern slant. Think fresh Arabic bread, a huge fruit and veg section, aisles of packaged food including international brands, a butcher counter, a deli chock full of hummus, olives, tabbouleh salad and the like, endless freezers of food, plus general household goods and clothing.

You’ll find a Lulu and/or Carrefour in every major city – Muscat, Nizwa, Ibri, Khasab, Salalah, Sur, etc.

Camping Food

Depending on just how remote you plan on going, and whether you’ve picked up a cool box and ice or not, you’ll probably want a mixture of fresh and long-lasting food to keep you going. Cooking on a camping stove is cheaper and less hassle than making a campfire or bbq every night, so you’ll want to plan meals accordingly. Here’s some examples of food we cooked on our Oman camping road trip.

BREAKFAST

Muesli
(we picked up the same Dorset Muesli we’re used to from home at Lulu/Carrefour)

Powdered Milk/Fresh Yoghurt
(if within a day of our last supermarket visit)

Banana

Coffee
(prepared drip style using our X-Brew)

Other Suggestions –

Eggs

Toast (done in a pan)

Jam/Honey

Porridge

Fresh Fruit

The perfect way to start the day on your Oman camping road trip, a breakfast of muesli and powdered milk

Muesli and powdered milk for breakfast

LUNCH

Arabic Bread

Hummus/Babaganoush

Stuffed Vine Leaves

Deli Salads (spicy chickpea, tabbouleh, etc.)

Packet Soup

Cheese

Crackers

Leftovers from dinner

DINNER

We mostly cooked one pot stews, curries, pasta & couscous dishes. We’d make enough to last a couple of days.
Our shopping list would look something like this:

Tinned Tomatoes

Tinned Chickpeas

Tinned Kidney Beans

Tomato Paste

Various Spices

Stock Cubes

Couscous

Pasta

Peppers

Onions

Garlic

Ginger

Chili

Aubergine

Courgette

Spinach

Pesto

Cherry Tomatoes

Halloumi

Paneer (fresh or frozen)

Feta

Lemons

Olive Oil

Here’s a few of our go-to recipes and ‘make-it-up’ type dishes for inspiration!

Moroccan Chickpea & Couscous Salad with Grilled Halloumi

Chickpea & Spinach Stew with added Red Peppers

Pesto Pasta with Feta & Cherry Tomatoes

Tomato Based Stew with Aubergine, Courgette, Peppers & Kidney Beans

Mutter Paneer (Hairy Bikers’ Recipe) with Frozen Paneer

Palak Paneer

The pot is full of delicious mutter paneer, cooking on a small camping stove on the beach in Oman

Cooking up some Mutter Paneer on the beach

SNACKS & TREATS

Dates
(we bought a 5KG tub on day 1 to last us the month!)

Fresh Fruit

Dried Fruit & Nuts

Crisps

Chocolate
(one square of Lindt 90% for dessert every night is standard for us)

Baklava

Crackers

Biscuits

You can buy small barbeques relatively cheaply at a hypermarket, plus coal for burning and all sorts of other BBQ paraphernalia, so cooking food this way is certainly an option.

You’ll find bags of ice in the freezer section of hypermarkets to keep a cool box and its contents chilled for a day or so, but be wary of keeping meat, etc. for any length of time. It is hot throughout the year in Oman and food can spoil quickly.

FRESH WATER

A plentiful supply of water at all times is essential on your Oman camping road trip.

Staying hydrated is important, not to mention all the water you’ll need for cooking and washing. Fresh water supplies from natural sources like rivers are few and far between however – you certainly won’t be camping by a stream every night. While bottled water is cheap and plentiful, in the interest of minimising your plastic waste it’s best to refill existing bottles rather than continuously buy more.

We suggest buying two or three (depending on just how off-road you plan on going) 6L bottles of water at the start of your trip and refilling these along the way.

Often the easiest place to fill up is the local mosque. While some ablution taps are inside, many are external. It’s quick and easy to fill up your empty bottles here, outside of prayer time of course.

Public toilets and the bathroom sink at petrol stations are other places to fill up. In the mountains, we came across many water filling stations near villages. These usually have a big water tank on top of a dispenser.

Filling up water bottles at a mosque in Oman (outside of prayer times)
Filling up drinkable water in the mountains of Oman from a large cistern and dispenser

Filling up at a mosque and in the mountains

Oman’s tap water is generally considered safe to drink, however personally we always sterilise our drinking water using a Steripen, combined with a filter to ensure there’s no weird floaty bits. We filled our 6L bottles to use for washing and cooking, and filtered a litre at a time into our Nalgene water bottles for sterilising and drinking.

KEEPING CLEAN

Wild camping in Oman means no facilities. No showers. No sinks. No running water. So how do you keep yourself, your clothes and your cookware clean? We camped for 25 nights in a row, picking up a few ideas on the subject.

Personal Hygiene

The most enjoyable way to freshen up is in nature’s bath – a wadi pool. Plan your Oman road trip around visiting one of these regularly. A few good ones with fresh water more or less guaranteed year round are Wadi Damm, Wadi Suneik, Wadi Bani Khalid and Wadi Shab.

An aerial view of the hidden pool at Wadi Damm in Oman, hard rock and greenery framing the perfect natural pool

Taking a dip at serene Wadi Damm

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Oman also has plenty of gorgeous beaches, and while salt water isn’t ideal for washing in, it will make you feel less grubby. Nothing beats waking up at sunrise, crawling out of your tent and diving straight into the sea. Our favourite beach camps include Al Jadi Beach and Rocky Beach in Musandam, Fazayah Beach(es) south of Salalah, Bandar Al Khiran, Yiti Beach and Masirah Island.

Wadi Pools

Great Beaches

A number of beaches in Oman have fresh water tanks and these are ideal for having a makeshift shower (if you have a bit of privacy!). I took full advantage of this after a boat pulled up at secluded Rocky Beach and a couple of guys jumped out with hoses to replenish the tanks.

If there’s no tank around, but you have a bit of privacy, go ahead and turn the boot of your vehicle into a bathroom. A little bit of water in a cup, plus some soap and a shower puff will go a long way! Del found the car side mirrors perfect for shaving.

Del tidies up his beard with the aid of the car's wing mirror - needs must on an Oman camping road trip

Camp Shaving

A cup and large tub (I used our cool box), is all you need to wash your hair. I also found a few random taps to stick my head under. Dry shampoo works a treat in between washes.

Note that Oman is a conservative country and unless you’re in a completely private spot, you should cover up appropriately when swimming. Bikinis are a no no. A long sleeved rash guard type top and shorts are a better option.

Don’t pollute any fresh water with soap or shampoo.

Washing under the perfect natural shower in the hidden pool of Wadi Damm in Oman

Freshening up at Wadi Damm

Camp Hygiene

The last thing you want is to get sick, so keeping your cookware clean is as important as ensuring you have safe drinking water.

The easiest way we found to keep our dishes clean was filling up the big pot from our cook set with boiling water and suds, using it like a sink. In the warm air your dishes will dry quickly, otherwise flap them about a bit until they’re dry. Remember to pack a cloth or dish scrubber and you can use the same suds for your dishes as your laundry. If you don’t have a big pot, any solid bucket, tub or basin will do.

Laundry

Doing laundry on the go can inspire some pretty inventive contraptions. We’ve seen a tub strapped to the back of a 4×4, given a good old shoogle when off-roading, and heard of giant ziplock bags being engaged. We like to keep things simple and hassle free with our Scrubba. This genius invention goes everywhere with us and makes it possible for us to wash our clothes anywhere, as long as we have some fresh water.

Hanging up clothes and the Scrubba Washbag beachside on our Oman camping road trip

Wash day on Rocky Beach, Musandam and Fazayah Beach, Dhofar

If you haven’t heard of it, the Scrubba looks like a dry bag, but has a flexible internal washboard and a valve to release excess air. You just pop your clothes in, along with water and suds, roll down the top and clip it. Release the air via the valve, then rub away for a few minutes. Pour out your dirty water (away from any rivers, etc.), add fresh water to rinse and then wring out your clothes and hang them up to dry. The Scrubba also doubles up as the ideal dirty laundry bag because you can compress out all the air and contain the stink. It does an alright job as a makeshift drybag around water too, keeping our stuff dry when swimming across various wadi pools. Do yourself a favour and grab one of these travel game changers now.

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COSTS

Oman is not a cheap country to travel in, however with accommodation being one of the biggest outlays, a camping road trip means you’re already saving yourself a huge chunk of money. Fuel is cheap, car rental costs are reasonable and food is affordable. And best of all, with Oman’s wealth of natural attractions you’ll hardly spend a penny on entrance fees.

Our average spend over a month long road trip was $104/day for two people. This included 3 nights hotel accommodation in Muscat, 25 nights wild camping, a 4×4 Toyota Fortuner rental, fuel covering over 5100KM, UAE border crossing fees and extra car insurance, all our food, and a few miscellaneous items.
The full breakdown is below.

29 DAYS

TOTAL SPEND

$3011

TRANSPORT

$1522
50% of budget

FOOD

$611
20% of budget

FUEL

$414
14% of budget

OTHER

$464
16% of budget

The biggest expense by far is 4×4 hire, accounting for half of our total spend. If you’re travelling as a group of 4 (or 5 at a squeeze!) this would reduce the per person cost drastically. If you’re looking to really save money, a 2WD rental will cost about half, but your road trip experience will be very different to that in a 4WD.

Food accounted for our next biggest spend. We had a couple of meals out in Muttrah but largely bought all of our food in supermarkets and cooked for ourselves. Obviously the amount you budget for food could be less or more, depending on what you eat!

Fuel costs amounted to our next biggest spend. We covered a lot of ground, heading north from Muscat to Musandam, all the way south to Salalah, and back to Muscat again. Our fuel costs reflected a journey of over 5100KM. If you’re planning a journey covering a shorter distance then your fuel budget will naturally be smaller.

Pitching the tent in a rocky clearing among Musandam's towering mountains

One of our favourite camp spots of the whole trip – in the mountains of Musandam overlooking Wadi Bihi

Travelling to Musandam via road will add at least an extra $80 to your expenses. Your car rental agency will charge a fee for UAE car insurance – approx 25 OMR/$65 – and you’re required to pay UAE exit fees of a total of 64 AED/$17 per person (two entries/exits are required to drive from mainland Oman to Musandam return). Note that you’ll also require a multi-entry Oman visa.

Taking the car ferry from Muscat to Musandam return can avoid these fees, however ferries don’t run every day and there is obviously still an expense incurred.

We kept a note of all our spending using the wonderful Trail Wallet iOS app – check it out if you’re a budgeting fiend!

CULTURE & ETIQUETTE

Oman is a conservative Islamic country and cultural norms and etiquette may be quite different to those of your own.

One of the most important things to consider when packing for your Oman road trip is your clothing. As a minimum, women should cover up their shoulders and wear clothes below the knees. Ideally however, women should cover their arms and legs entirely with loose fitting clothing. This is culturally appropriate, as well as being practically comfortable in the heat. Men should also cover up, ideally wearing trousers and a T-shirt or long sleeved shirt but shorts are acceptable too. As a minimum wear shorts and a top when swimming at public beaches and wadis.

If visiting the spectacular Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat both sexes need to cover up from the neck to the ankles, with women also requiring a headscarf. Exposed feet are OK.

As in any Islamic culture, you should not shake hands with a stranger of the opposite sex unless they extend their hand first. Instead, placing your right hand over your heart is a polite way to greet someone. Avoid any public displays of affection.

Dressed according to local customs, wandering the halls of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat

English is widely spoken in the cities and main towns but not in more remote regions. A smile and a few words of Arabic will go a long way. Omanis are generally friendly and hospitable – you’ll no doubt be asked in to someone’s home for coffee and dates or have an offer of a meal. It’s polite to accept.

As always, ask permission before taking photos of people and don’t be surprised if people ask you to take their photo!

An elederly gent and his grandsons pose for photos from their 4WD on the sandy coast of Eastern Oman

The first of two cars to speed over in the middle of nowhere to say Hello and ask for their photo taken. We bumped into this old guy again in a shop the following day and he offered us a live crab! 

PLANNING & RESOURCES

Besides the (hopefully!) useful information in this Oman camping road trip guide, there are a couple of other resources we highly recommend.

The first is the Explorer Oman Off-Road book – a hardback beast of a book that wouldn’t look out of place on a coffee table but will no doubt barely leave your lap on your travels. We picked it up at WH Smith in a Muscat mall after first seeing it at the airport. We initially dismissed it due to its cost (18 OMR/$47) but after failing to find a Lonely Planet returned to leaf through it once again. We quickly realised the book had absolutely everything we could hope for on a trip like ours – a multitude of off-road driving and hiking routes throughout the country, itinerary suggestions, wild camp spots, practical information, inspiring photography and GPS coordinates to help us find it all. The book helped us get so much out of our road trip and was well worth the money. It’s easy to get your hands on it once you’re in Oman, otherwise order a copy in advance or get the app version direct from Explorer’s website.

A view from the passenger seat as the driver negotiates the roads of Wadi Bih in Musandam, Oman

Off-roading on one of the routes from the Oman Off-road book

Oman has some spectacular hikes to accompany your road trip and Oman Tourism have done a pretty great job marking specific trails. Click the Route 1 – 3 links to open up pdf files with detailed maps and route info for hikes around Mutrah and the Western and Eastern Hajar Mountains. We hiked a few of these on our first trip to Oman and loved them. It’s well worth working a few of these into your road trip itinerary.

Striding out onto the path above Oman's Grand Canyon, Jebel Shams rising high on the other side

Hiking the ‘Balcony Walk’ (W6) at the ‘Grand Canyon’, Jabal Shams

WHEN & HOW TO VISIT

Weather

October to April is undoubtedly the best time of year to embark on an Oman camping road trip. The day time temperatures hover around 25 – 30 degrees celsius and the evenings are pleasant, generally in the low twenties. If you’re camping in the mountains expect temperatures to be up to 10 degrees cooler at night – pack accordingly! With Winter comes some rain throughout the north of the country, but not much usually. We’ve travelled in Oman in November and December on two occasions and barely seen any rain.

Summer is stifling hot and hazy across most of the country, not the kind of weather you want to be camping and adventuring in. The exception is Dhofar in the south, which experiences a monsoon from mid-June to late August. This khareef turns the land lush and green, with raging waterfalls and wild seas. No doubt beautiful to see, but also not ideal camping conditions!

Looking out over the waterfalls and rockpools at Wadi Darbat in Oman

Wadi Darbat near Salalah in the dry season

Holidays & Weekends

Other factors to consider when planning your Oman trip include special holidays, festivals, Ramadan dates, and travel over weekends.

Popular wild camping spots, especially those close to Muscat, are always busier with locals at the weekend. It’s not uncommon for people to arrive (and leave!) in the dark, setting up big tents, lights and speakers to while away the wee hours. If you’re looking for solitude, best to visit during the week.

Research any public holidays before you travel as this can affect how busy the roads, major attractions and camp spots will be. If you’re visiting Musandam, check UAE public holidays too as this is a popular escape for many from Dubai and beyond. We failed to do so and found ourselves road tripping this stunning fjordland over a four-day UAE holiday. A few of our camp spots were far busier than we expected, with groups and expat families taking advantage of the long weekend. It didn’t ruin our trip by any means, but we would have switched up our plans had we realised in advance.

Ramadan dates change every year but usually fall sometime in late Spring/early Summer. National Day is one of the biggest holidays of the year, falling on November 18th, with the festival vibe lasting a few days beyond. Muscat Festival takes place over a month in January/February and Salalah Tourism Festival takes place during the khareef.

Getting to Oman

Flights

The brand new Muscat International Airport is served by a number of airlines including Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, FlyDubai and the national carrier, Oman Air. It’s a beautiful airport, the nicest we’ve ever seen! On both our trips to Oman we’ve flown Oman Air between London and Asia, taking advantage of a free stopover in Muscat to visit the country.

You can also fly internationally to Salalah from a few destinations, including Doha and Dubai.

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Land

Musandam, being cut off from the rest of Oman by the UAE, is actually more straightforward to visit from Dubai than it is Muscat. It’s an easy 2.5 hours drive between Dubai and Khasab, crossing the border at Ras Al Khaimah.

You can travel by bus between Dubai and Muscat, or drive the route in approx 4.5 hours. There are a number of border crossings including Khatam Al Malahah (near Fujairah on the UAE east coast), Hatta and Al Ain (also referred to as Mezyad). We crossed smoothly and quickly at Ras Al Khaimah, Khatam Al Malahah and Al Ain. Your car will be searched so don’t try to bring any alcohol. Be sure to check that cross-border travel is permitted with your car rental agency and have the correct paperwork with you.

Visas

Many nationalities can apply in advance for an eVisa to visit Oman. You can get a single entry 10 or 30 day visa, or a multiple entry 30 day visa (which is valid for 1 year). We opted for the multiple entry visa as we intended to visit Musandam by road (which meant three entries into Oman in total). You can find out more about visas and apply online here.

Two young men resplendent in sparkling white dishdashas look out over the famous Khor Najd in Musandam, Oman

OMAN CAMPING ROAD TRIP

Oman is a country we’ll be drawn back to again and again, our second Oman camping road trip firmly cementing it in our ‘all-time favourite countries’ list. We hope you’ve found the information in this guide helpful and use it to organise your own Oman adventure in the near future.

If you have any questions just drop them in the comments down below!

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – if you purchase a product or service via these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps offset the cost of running this blog and keeps us travelling so that we can continue to produce great content for you. We greatly appreciate your support!*

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Everything you need to know about an Oman camping road trip, including vehicles, campsites, food, equipment, how to get water, visas, costs and how to do your laundry.
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