• 10 DAY OFF-ROAD OMAN 4x4 ITINERARY

    Golden sunrise light hits the wall of the Omani Grand Canyon below Jebel Shams. A 4WD and tent sits on the rim of the canyon, reached by a bumpy off-road track.
  • 10 DAY OFF-ROAD OMAN 4x4 ITINERARY

    Golden sunrise light hits the wall of the Omani Grand Canyon below Jebel Shams. A 4WD and tent sits on the rim of the canyon.

10 DAY OFF-ROAD OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY

In this guide we outline a detailed itinerary for a 10 day 4×4 self-drive Oman road trip. We also offer a downloadable route map and daily accommodation and wild camping suggestions. 

Oman is made for off-road adventures. Tracks cut through mountains, wadis, deserts, and high plateaus. They link low-lying coastal plains with the soaring Eastern and Western Hajar. This Middle Eastern gem offers such an incredible variety of experiences and landscapes that no two days are ever the same. It’s one of our all-time favourite countries, and the perfect place for a 4×4 road trip.

What’s more, Oman also manages to cater equally well to an adventure-seeking budget camper or a luxury-loving traveller. There are endless wild camping opportunities as well as some seriously swish resorts. So, whatever your budget, we’ve put together the ultimate 10 day off-road Oman itinerary for you. We’ve hand-picked the route after two separate trips and 6 weeks travelling in Oman, and feel it acts as an ideal introduction to the country. It covers many of the best things to see in Oman, including wadis, deserts, beaches and mountains, plus historical and cultural sites. We also have daily accommodation suggestions, as well as alternative camping options. Opt for one or the other depending on your budget, or mix-and-match for an especially memorable experience. 

Looking for a truly budget Oman road trip? Rent a cheaper 2WD and follow our 10 Day 2WD itinerary, camping along the way.

Got longer in Oman? Lucky you. If you have 2 weeks, we suggest including Masirah Island and the Sugar Dunes in this itinerary. If you have up to a month, after visiting everywhere outlined in this 10 day Oman itinerary, head south to Dhofar. Check out our Essential Salalah and Dhofar Guide to plan your ultimate Oman road trip!

Finally, we recommend reading our Oman Road Trip Guide for more practical information, especially if you’re planning on camping.

*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!*

OFF-ROAD OMAN ITINERARY ROUTE MAP

We have created an accompanying map for this Oman itinerary. You can use it online or offline to easily navigate the route. We have marked all of the driving and hiking routes, plus the key sights, wild camp spots, and accommodation options for each day of the itinerary outlined in this guide. This allows you to quickly pinpoint places and navigate to them. 


OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY

For this 10 day off-road Oman itinerary, we’ve outlined a main route which mountain lovers will relish, but also included a few variations to suit your different needs.

For Days 7 and 8, we have given two options depending on whether you are camping or staying in accommodation.

For Days 4 and 5, there’s an alternative route with more time on the coast for those wanting to visit the Turtle Reserve at Ras Al Jinz. However, taking this route will turn your whole itinerary into an 11 day trip, so if you’re restricted to 10 days, you would have to skip somewhere else. Cutting either the Sayq Plateau (heading from Wahiba Sands straight to Nizwa) or Wadi Damm (heading from Nizwa to Jebel Shams via Jabrin/Bahla) are two possible options.

Regardless of which option you choose, arriving early on Day 1 means you could start straight away on the Day 2 itinerary, giving you extra time to play with.

OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 1

ARRIVAL IN MUSCAT

ACCOMMODATION

Muscat Hills Hotel
(close to airport)
Naseem Hotel
(perfect Muttrah location)
The Chedi Muscat
(superior luxury)

CAMPING

Muscat Beach
(23.6052, 58.3539)


Welcome to Oman!

We recommend pre-booking your 4×4 hire to pick up/drop off at the airport (assuming you’re flying in/out of Muscat). Public transport is pretty limited, so it’s best to pick up your car straight away so you can get around Muscat easily. We always get great deals booking through Holiday Autos.

Search Car Hire Options Here


ARRIVAL ESSENTIALS

You can arrange a tourist SIM card at the airport with Omantel or Ooredoo. Then, once you exchange money or withdraw Omani Rials at an ATM, you’re ready to hit the road. Google Maps works great for navigating throughout Oman, and Maps.me is also handy (especially for offline use).

ACCOMMODATION

Muscat International Airport is about 30km west of Muttrah, the historic port area of Muscat and a real highlight. If you’re arriving late, or might be a bit frazzled after a long flight, it’s probably best to book accommodation closer to the airport and just make the drive into Muttrah the following day. We stayed at Muscat Hills Hotel on our last trip, a quick and easy drive less than 8km from the airport. There are numerous other options nearby, too.

Alternatively, base yourself in or near Muttrah. Naseem Hotel, while nothing fancy, has a perfect location on the corniche. We stayed here on our first trip to Oman in 2014 and loved being able to stroll right out into the heart of old Muttrah. Request a room at the front for wonderful harbour views! Riyam Hotel and Mutrah Hotel are also pretty close by. If you’re looking for luxury, check out Kempinski Hotel Muscat, W Muscat, Crowne Plaza Muscat, or the crème de la crème, The Chedi Muscat.

The sun dips behind the mountains in Muscat and the streets of old Muttrah lie in shadow

Darkness descends on Muttrah as the sun sets behind the mountains



A man walks into an alleyway between whitewashed buildings in Muttrah under the golden glow of the streetlights

An Omani wanders into the golden-lit
alleyways of Muttrah as night falls



CAMPING

We recommend booking a hotel for your first night in Oman. However, if you’re keen to camp straight away there is a promising looking spot marked on i-Overlander at Muscat Beach (iOS/Android) (although we can’t vouch for it ourselves). Note that this area, as with many camp spots in Oman, may be busy at the weekend (Friday and Saturday) with families picnicking or groups socialising until the small hours.

LOOK FOR MORE MUSCAT ACCOMMODATION

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OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 2

MUSCAT & BANDAR AL KHIRAN
37 KM

HIGHLIGHTS

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Muttrah

Beach Camp

ACCOMMODATION

Muscat Hills Hotel
(close to airport)
Naseem Hotel
(perfect Muttrah location)
The Chedi Muscat
(superior luxury)

CAMPING

Bandar Al Khiran
(23.51658, 58.74276
)


The best of Muscat and sunset on the coast.

A day to check out the best of Muscat, stock up on supplies and (if you’re camping) end the day at the beach.

SULTAN QABOOS GRAND MOSQUE

First up, visit the serene Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (8am-11am Saturday to Thursday). Completed in 2001, it is grand and opulent, yet entirely elegant and tasteful. The main prayer hall is home to a 21 tonne single-piece Persian carpet, hand woven and designed perfectly to fit every contour, nook and cranny of the floor. Hanging from the central dome is a 14 meter high chandelier, complete with 600,000 crystals and an inner staircase for cleaning.

A person walking down a shaded Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque walkway, with sunlight streaming through the arches and creating patterns on the floor

The cool and shaded sandstone hallways around the main prayer hall



A giant chandelier with 600,000 crystals, hanging from the ceiling in the main prayer hall of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman

The hugely impressive chandelier with its 600,000 crystals



A person walking down a shaded Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque walkway, with sunlight streaming through the arches and creating patterns on the floor

Walking the cool and shaded sandstone
hallways outside of the main prayer hall



Outside, Indian sandstone arched walkways are lined with decorative niches, each telling the story of traditional Islamic art and design through the ages, and from all around the world. Take your time strolling the grounds.

Men and women must cover arms and legs, and women must also cover their hair.


MUTTRAH

Next, head to historic Muttrah and spend a few hours wandering the corniche and soaking up the vibe at Muttrah Souq. This is a beautiful district, full of character and history. The setting is very picturesque, low-rise buildings nestled between the port on one side and mountains rising dramatically behind. Fruit juice cafes line the corniche, and the outdoor courtyard of the Royal House Restaurant is a nice spot for lunch. Climb up Muttrah Fort for a view over the neighbourhood. If you’re staying at a hotel in Muscat tonight, take your time and enjoy the golden hour glow and sunset views. If you’re camping, best to hit the road out of Muscat at least two hours before sunset.

Omani men in traditional dress queueing at a coffee shop in the Muttrah Souq, in Muscat, Oman

Queueing at the coffee shop in Muttrah Souq



A man exits the arched rear entrance to the Muttrah Souq in Muscat, Oman

Enjoying the light at the back entrance of the souq



Omani men in traditional dress queueing at a coffee shop in the Muttrah Souq, in Muscat, Oman

Queuing at the coffee shop in Muttrah Souq


A man exits the arched rear entrance to the Muttrah Souq in Muscat, Oman

Enjoying the light and watching the world go by



STOCK UP

If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to stock up on supplies at one of the hypermarkets in Muscat. There will be others during the trip (notably at Nizwa), but try to get most of what you need here for your upcoming off-road Oman adventure – it will save you time. Lulu and Carrefour are two of the biggest chains. Search on Google Maps to find your nearest.

If you’re staying in a hotel in Muscat, you’ll drive the Bandar Al Khiran route below on the morning of Day 3.

BANDAR AL KHIRAN CAMP

From Muttrah take Road 1 for nearly 7km, turning off for Al Hamriyah and climbing the steep Yiti Road. There’s a great view down over the houses below at the top of the switchbacks. Carry on along Yiti Road, turning left up a side-track (23.5559, 58.5679) to a wonderful viewpoint over the houses of Ruwi, squeezed in between the mountains.

White and sandy coloured buildings packed together in a narrow valley between dry rocky hillsides, a viewpoint reached by an off-road track in Oman

Looking down at the houses of Ruwi in the afternoon sun



White and sandy coloured buildings packed together in a narrow valley between dry rocky hillsides, a viewpoint reached by an off-road track in Oman

Looking down at Ruwi in the afternoon sun



Return to Yiti Road and carry on for 24km to Bandar Al Khiran, your camp spot for the night. This is a gorgeous coastline of tidal bays and small beaches. You can camp at the bay (accessed via a steep 4×4 track), or at the viewpoint overlooking Bandar Al Khiran (23.5138, 58.7430). From the viewpoint parking area various walking trails (ranging from just 200 metres to about 5 km one way) lead to beaches dotted along the coastline, making this a great area for exploring or just relaxing at the beach.

Sandy rocky coastline forming an inlet full of sparkling aquamarine water at Bandar Al Khiran in Oman

The viewpoint at Bandar Al Khiran. A trail leads down to the small beach below



Sandy rocky coastline forming an inlet full of sparkling aquamarine water at Bandar Al Khiran in Oman

The viewpoint over Bandar Al Khiran. A
trail leads down to the small beach below



See More From Oman

Golden sunrise light hits the wall of the Omani Grand Canyon below Jebel Shams. A 4WD and tent sits on the rim of the canyon.
A 4x4 vehicle drives towards the Western Hajar Mountains on a 1 month Oman road trip.
A orange, yellow and pink sunrise rises over Wadi Bih in the mountains of Musandam, Oman
Diving in Oman
Oman Video: walking on the Sugar Dunes
A beautiful coastal scene from our Oman Road Trip Video
Pinks and yellows light the sky at sunrise in the mountains of Musandam. The flat area shows our campsite where the tent and our Toyota Fortuner gleam in the morning light.
The mirror-like blue surface of Khor Najd stretches into the distance, framed by sandy mountains and cliffs
Golden sunrise light hits the wall of the Omani Grand Canyon below Jebel Shams. A 4WD and tent sits on the rim of the canyon.
A 4x4 vehicle drives towards the Western Hajar Mountains on a 1 month Oman road trip.
A orange, yellow and pink sunrise rises over Wadi Bih in the mountains of Musandam, Oman
Diving in Oman
Oman Video: walking on the Sugar Dunes
A beautiful coastal scene from our Oman Road Trip Video
Pinks and yellows light the sky at sunrise in the mountains of Musandam. The flat area shows our campsite where the tent and our Toyota Fortuner gleam in the morning light.
The mirror-like blue surface of Khor Najd stretches into the distance, framed by sandy mountains and cliffs

OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 3

BANDAR AL KHIRAN to FINS via BIMMAH SINKHOLE & WADI SHAB
145 KM

HIGHLIGHTS

Coastal Views

Bimmah Sinkhole

Wadi Shab

ACCOMMODATION

Wadi Ash Shab Chalets
(at entrance to Wadi Shab)

Wadi Shab Guest House
(1.3 km from Wadi Shab)

Tiwi Sunrise
(3 km from Wadi Shab)

CAMPING

Fins Blowholes
(
22.9010, 59.2229)


Stunning coastline and one of Oman’s best wadis.

OFF-ROADING

If you stayed in a hotel in Muscat, follow the route out of the city along Yiti Road this morning, stopping at the viewpoints and then on to Bandar Al Khiran to rejoin this route. Leaving Bandar Al Khiran, return along the same road to Yiti, turning left before you reach the main road. You’ll pass the local health centre, school and mosque in the village. Carry on and get stuck into your first off-roading section through Wadi Mayh (23.5012, 58.6641). Follow the wadi trail for 24km, eventually joining the main Road 17.

A jagged, dry, rocky landscape seen while driving a dirt track offroad in Oman

Going off-road in Oman: the rocky landscape seen on the Wadi Mayh track



A jagged, dry, rocky landscape seen while driving a dirt track offroad in Oman

Going off-road in Oman: the rocky
landscape on the Wadi Mayh track



BIMMAH SINKHOLE

When you join Road 17, head south all the way to Bimmah Sinkhole (70km), a natural water filled depression in the earth. There are steps down into the sinkhole and you can swim in the clear, salty water. The depth of the water varies, and divers have discovered numerous caves below. It’s surrounded by a landscaped park, complete with picnic tables and toilet facilities. It’s a popular spot, open 8am – 8pm daily.

An early morning view down into the Bimmah sinkhole on day 3 of a 10 day Oman Itinerary. A few people are preparing to swim in the aqua water but it's quiet otherwise.

The impressive Bimmah Sinkhole



An early morning view down into the Bimmah sinkhole on day 3 of a 10 day Oman Itinerary. A few people are preparing to swim in the aqua water but it's quiet otherwise.

The impressive Bimmah Sinkhole



WADI SHAB

Continue for another 38km south on Road 17 and turn off for Wadi Shab, one of the most picturesque spots in all of Oman! The car park is below an underpass. From here, take the short boat ride across the water (1 OMR per person return) to the start of the wadi hike. It takes 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the main pool, with a bit of easy scrambling and walking along falaj (water irrigation channels). From the main pool you can swim through a narrow crack in the rocks (sometimes completely underwater) to reach a hidden cave and mini waterfall. When you’re done, head back the same way. Allow at least 3 hours from start to finish.

This is one of Oman’s most popular tourist spots, so visit during the week to avoid the crowds.

A green rock pool of Wadi Shab in Oman surrounded by high rock walls

Swimming in the main rock pool at Wadi Shab



A green rock pool of Wadi Shab in Oman surrounded by high rock walls

Swimming in the main rock pool at Wadi Shab



FINS CAMPING & COASTAL ACCOMMODATION

Leaving Wadi Shab, head about 8km back up the road and turn off on the rough tracks to the coast to camp on or near Fins Beach. If you’re staying in accommodation, Wadi Ash Shab Chalets are a stone’s throw from the car park, otherwise Wadi Shab Guest House and Tiwi Sunrise Motel are both nearby.

A plume of water and spray shooting from a coastal blowhole in Oman, while the sun rises out to sea

Sunrise and blowholes, seen from a camp spot on the rocky coast at Fins



A plume of water and spray shooting from a coastal blowhole in Oman, while the sun rises out to sea

Sunrise and blowholes, seen from a
camp spot on the rocky coast at Fins



LOOK FOR MORE ACCOMMODATION

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OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 4

FINS/WADI SHAB to WAHIBA SANDS
130 KM +

HIGHLIGHTS

Eastern Hajar Mountains

Wahiba Sands

ACCOMMODATION

Desert Nights Camp
(super luxurious)
1000 Nights Camp
(large established camp)
Sama Al Wasil Desert Camp
(attractive small camp)
Nomadic Desert Camp
(rustic barasti huts)
Legend Desert Camp
(small, low-key)

CAMPING

Wahiba Sands

Some suggested spots:

22.2367, 58.7657

21.9851, 58.7590

21.8175, 58.7599


A day of epic mountains and deserts.

Time for your first big off-road Oman experience. Start your day climbing through the mountains of the Eastern Hajar, and end it surrounded by the towering orange dunes of Wahiba Sands.

EASTERN HAJAR MOUNTAINS

From the coast, it’s time to head off road and into the mountains looming behind. From the main coastal Road 17, turn off behind Fins village (22.9165, 59.1955) and climb all the way up to the Salmah Plateau. The views are incredible and you’ll encounter small villages along the way.

Sunlight and shadows across the golden rocky landscape of the Salma Plateau, an off-road Oman driving route

 Light and shadow play across the Salmah Plateau. Views like this are reason enough to go off-road in Oman



Sunlight and shadows across the golden rocky landscape of the Salma Plateau, an off-road Oman driving route

Views across the expansive Salmah Plateau,
reason enough to go off-road in Oman



At Qurun village (22.8305, 59.0994), take the right track heading southwest. After 5.7km (22.8136, 59.0673), take the left track for 1.7km to see some of the Jaylah Beehive Tombs, dating from 2500-2000BC. Backtrack the 1.7km, and carry on straight for a further 3.1km to more Beehive tombs (22.8168, 59.0544). Once you’ve explored a little, continue on this track for 6.3km, then turn right to go down the mountain (22.8259, 59.0120). After 20km, turn left at the village (22.8904, 58.8844) and continue for 47km all the way to the main Road 23. Allow 4-5 hours for the whole journey through the mountains, including plenty of photo stops and time to explore the tombs.

The Eastern Hajar Mountains of Oman seen in hazy layers from the Salma Plateau off-road track

Descending from the plateau and appreciating the layers of the Eastern Hajar



The Eastern Hajar Mountains of Oman seen in hazy layers from the Salma Plateau off-road track

Descending from the plateau and appreciating
the hazy layers of the Eastern Hajar Mountains



WAHIBA SANDS

Now for the dunes! Once back on Road 23, if you plan to camp, navigate south for approximately 16 km to the hard-packed desert road leading into Wahiba Sands (22.4082, 58.7845). Or, if you’re staying at an organised desert camp, head towards your pre arranged meeting point. If you want to take your own 4×4, most places will offer to guide you to their camp in a lead vehicle. Otherwise you can leave your car at the edge of the desert and take a transfer instead.

The view from inside a 4x4 vehicle driving off-road in Oman, following a convoy of cars on a sand track in Wahiba Sands

Off-road Oman at its best! Driving into Wahiba Sands



The view from inside a 4x4 vehicle driving off-road in Oman, following a convoy of cars on a sand track in Wahiba Sands

Off-road Oman at its best!



Wild Camping

If you want to wild camp in Wahiba Sands (also known as Sharqiya Sands) stick to the packed track (clearly marked on Maps.Me), and look for a safe place to pull off nearby. The desert track runs approximately 146km north to south. Of course, you don’t need to drive the whole way to find a scenic spot to make camp. See the infobox above for suggested spots that are publicly marked on iOverlander and Maps.Me.

Don’t forget: before heading into the desert, be sure to read up on sand driving techniques and let some air out of your tyres. You can fill them up again at the gas station by the entrance to the sands.

Wavy patterns in the sand

Patterns in the sand



people walk along the top of red dunes at sunset in Wahiba Sands, Oman

Wandering the dunes of Wahiba Sands at sunset



people walk along the top of red dunes at sunset in Wahiba Sands, Oman

Wandering the dunes of Wahiba Sands at sunset


Wavy patterns in the sand

Patterns in the sand



Organised Desert Camp

If you want to stay at an organised camp, there are many to choose from. Options vary from simple barasti huts and bedouin style tents to luxurious glamping. Dinner and breakfast are usually included, as is sunset watching on top of the dunes and camel riding (if that’s your thing). A guided transfer to your camp may cost extra, check when you book. We enjoyed our stay at Nomadic Desert Camp on our first Oman trip in 2014, but if we had the budget, Desert Nights Camp would be our top choice!

Two omani men in bedouin dress prepare coffee in a blackened pot over an open fire in Wahiba Sands, Oman

Coffee prepared in the traditional way by the guys from Nomadic Desert Camp



Two omani men in bedouin dress prepare coffee in a blackened pot over an open fire in Wahiba Sands, Oman

Coffee prepared in the traditional way by
the guys from Nomadic Desert Camp



BOOK WAHIBA SANDS ACCOMMODATION HERE

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OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 5

WAHIBA SANDS to SAYQ PLATEAU
204 KM +

HIGHLIGHTS

The Village Walk

Mountain Views

Abandoned Village

ACCOMMODATION

Sahab Resort and Spa
(great location, pool & views)
Al Shraija Castle
(budget option)
Traveler’s Residence
(budget option)
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
(super luxurious)
Alila Jabal Akhdar
(incredible location, stunning luxury design)

CAMPING

Sayq Plateau
(23.0729, 57.6234)
(23.0732, 57.6376)
(23.0622, 57.6446)

Informal Campsite Area
(23.1243, 57.6195)

Ar Ruus, near Alila Resort
(23.1466, 57.5379)


The Green Mountain.

A day to explore the fertile Sayq Plateau, home to Jebel Akhdar ‘The Green Mountain’ and the lovely Village Walk.

SAYQ PLATEAU

Leaving the desert behind and head northwest on Road 23. After 44km turn off onto a minor road and cut across west to Lizq (52km). A further 15km will take you to join Road 33. After 50km on Road 33, turn off west for Birkat Al Mouz (9km). From here, you’ll head up the steep road for 35km, all the way to the plateau which sits at 2000 m. Only 4WDs are allowed on the road, and there’s a police checkpoint at the bottom to enforce this. Allow around 3 hours total for the journey (plus extra for Wahiba Sands, depending on where you spend the night).

DID YOU KNOW WE OFFER CONSULTATIONS & CUSTOM OMAN ITINERARY PLANNING?

> One Hour Video Consultation £100

we can answer questions, give advice, review your existing itinerary, or use the time to talk about anything else trip related, plus we’ll send a follow up email with links and notes about what we discuss

> Custom Itinerary Planning from £220

includes a video consultation, plus detailed day-by-day pdf itinerary, accommodation and/or camping suggestions, and an accompanying digital route map

Just get in touch via our contact page to let us know your rough trip plans and the kind of support you would like and we’ll get back to you with options and detailed pricing


DID YOU KNOW WE OFFER CONSULTATIONS & CUSTOM OMAN ITINERARY PLANNING?

> One Hour Video
Consultation
£100

we can answer questions, give advice, review your existing itinerary, or use the time to talk about anything else trip related, plus we’ll send a follow up email with links and notes about what we discuss

> Custom Itinerary Planning from £220

includes a video consultation, plus detailed day-by-day pdf itinerary, accommodation and/or camping suggestions, and an accompanying digital route map

Just get in touch via our contact page to let us know your rough trip plans and the kind of support you would like and we’ll get back to you with options and detailed pricing


VILLAGE WALK

Up top it’s considerably cooler, and the fertile plateau receives just enough rainfall to support apricot, pomegranate and Damask Rose orchards. A string of traditional villages cling to the hillsides above picturesque terraced fields, the perfect place for a walk. Starting at Al Aqur, a 4km trail meanders past terraces, along aflaj (plural of falaj) and through villages, all the way to Sayq. Officially, the trail is known as W18b. As you’ll have left your car at the start, you’ll need to return the same way. You could cut the walk shorter by turning back at Ash Shirayjah, the third village, approximately 1.3.km from the start.

The sunlit village of Al Ayn, perched on the terraced mountainside just below the Sayq Plateau in Oman

Looking back along the terraced mountainside on the Village Walk route



Steeply terraced fields of green in the Sayq Plateau, Oman

Admiring the terraces on the Village Walk



The sunlit village of Al Ayn, perched on the terraced mountainside just below the Sayq Plateau in Oman

Looking back along the terraced mountainside
on the Village Walk route. The construction site
seen
on the plateau in the distance is where the
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort was built


Steeply terraced fields of green in the Sayq Plateau, Oman

Admiring the terraces on the Village Walk



ABANDONED VILLAGE OF BANI HABIB

Back at your car, drive around the top of the villages you just walked through, all the way to the end of the road (23.0711, 57.6041). Here you’ll find Wadi Bani Habib and the fascinating mud and straw house ruins of its abandoned villages. Park and take the trail heading down to the wadi and up the other side to the first village, then around to another. The views are wonderful, and the old houses are fascinating to explore. If you’re running out of time, do this the following morning instead. 

Window detail in a mud brick house in an abandoned village in Wadi Bani Habib on the Sayq Plateau, Oman

Houses are in various states of disrepair



Abandoned village of mud brick and straw houses clinging to a rocky hillside in Wadi Bani Habib on the Sayq Plateau, Oman

One of the abandoned villages clinging to the rocky hillside



Abandoned village of mud brick and straw houses clinging to a rocky hillside in Wadi Bani Habib on the Sayq Plateau, Oman

The abandoned village of Bani
Habib clinging to the rocky hillside


Window detail in a mud brick house in an abandoned village in Wadi Bani Habib on the Sayq Plateau, Oman

Houses are in various states of disrepair



CAMPING & ACCOMMODATION

There are a number of possible wild camp spots around the top of the terraced villages. Alternatively, take the road heading towards Alila Jabal Akhdar Resort where there’s an informal campsite and picnic area (23.1243, 57.6195). Otherwise choose a spot overlooking the canyon, near the resort (23.1466, 57.5379).

There are a number of budget to mid-range accommodation options clustered around the main town. Overlooking the terraced villages, the best location belongs to Sama, Anantara and Sahab (we stayed here and can confirm the view from the pool is ace). If you’re looking for somewhere extra special, Alila is utterly incredible.

CHECK OUT MORE SAYQ PLATEAU ACCOMMODATION

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OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 6

SAYQ PLATEAU to NIZWA
59 KM

HIGHLIGHTS

Nizwa Fort

Nizwa Souq

ACCOMMODATION

Antique Inn
(beautiful heritage home)
Nizwa Heritage Inn
(restored traditional house)
Bait Al Aqr
(another elegant old house)
Golden Tulip Nizwa
(nice 4* hotel, short drive from centre)

Falaj Daris Hotel
(Nizwa classic)

CAMPING

West of Nizwa
(surrounded by hills)
(22.9220, 57.4823
)

Wadi Tanuf
(
23.0485, 57.4754)


Historic capital and traditional souq.

It’s about a one hour drive to Nizwa (50km). Descend to Birkat Al Mouz, then head west to join Road 21. This is the largest city in the region and was once the capital of Oman. It’s an attractive place, with the fort, souq and Al Qala’a Mosque all clustered around the centre.

NIZWA SOUQ

An atmospheric souq and one of the oldest in Oman. It’s perfect for wandering and a bit of souvenir shopping. There are indoor and outdoor areas, with numerous sections dedicated to fresh produce, household goods, Nizwa pottery, textiles, khanjar daggers, dates and much more. On Friday mornings the goat market takes place, with men and women from all around descending on the town to trade livestock. You can visit the souq in the morning, from 6am till 1pm, or later from 4pm till 10pm. On Fridays, the souq is only open in the morning, from 5am till 11am. 

Men in traditional Omani dress shop inside the old souk in Nizwa, Oman

Local men inside Nizwa Souq



Traditional Omani hats (Kuma) stacked together in Nizwa Souq, Oman

Traditional Omani hats (kuma) stacked together for sale in the souq



Traditional Omani hats (Kuma) stacked together in Nizwa Souq, Oman

Traditional Omani hats (kuma) for men,
stacked together for sale in the souq


Men in traditional Omani dress shop inside the old souk in Nizwa, Oman

Local men inside Nizwa Souq



NIZWA FORT

Next door to the souq is Nizwa Fort, with its impressive drum-like tower. It’s beautifully restored, and one of Oman’s most treasured historical sites. The views from the top are wonderful, overlooking the city, mountains, and attractive dome and minaret of the nearby Al Qala’a Mosque. There’s a small museum and plenty of rooms to explore. The colours are particularly nice in the late afternoon, the fort and surroundings basking in a golden hour glow.

Nizwa Fort is open 8am till 6pm, closing between 1130am and 1.30pm on Fridays. Entrance is 5 OMR for non-Omanis (2 OMR for Omanis).

Inside the sandy coloured inner fort at Nizwa on Day 6 of a 10 day Oman Itinerary

The inner structure of Nizwa Fort glowing in the afternoon sun



Sandy-coloured patterned dome and minaret of the Al Qala'a Mosque in Nizwa, Oman

Al Qala’a Mosque



Inside the sandy coloured inner fort at Nizwa on Day 6 of a 10 day Oman Itinerary

The inner structure of Nizwa Fort,
glowing gold in the afternoon sun


Sandy-coloured patterned dome and minaret of the Al Qala'a Mosque in Nizwa, Oman

Al Qala’a Mosque



CAMPING & ACCOMMODATION

There’s a quiet spot surrounded by hills just 5km west of Nizwa Fort (22.9220, 57.4823), perfect for camping. Otherwise, head north to Wadi Tanuf and find a spot there (eg. 23.0485, 57.4754). Always be wary of flash floods when camping in or near a wadi. Rain, even falling far away, can cause sudden flooding, and the narrow, steep cliffs of Wadi Tanuf mean it’s particularly dangerous. So, make camp near the marked area and don’t be tempted to head further up the wadi.

Want to know the best camp spots in Oman?

There are some lovely heritage home accommodation options in Nizwa (Antique Inn, Bait Al Aqr, Nizwa Heritage Inn) or a couple of hotels with pools and bars on the outskirts if you prefer (Golden Tulip Nizwa, Falaj Daris Hotel) .

FIND MORE NIZWA ACCOMMODATION

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OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 7 (CAMPING ITINERARY)

NIZWA to WADI DAMM
via TANUF, BAHLA, JABRIN & BEEHIVE TOMBS
137 KM

HIGHLIGHTS

Historic Forts

Old Village

Bronze Age Beehive Tombs

ACCOMMODATION

See Alternative Day 7 Hotel Itinerary

CAMPING

Wadi Damm
(23.2314, 57.0697)

Above Wadi Damm
(23.2331, 57.0915)


A journey through history.

On Days 7 and 8 we’ve created two different itineraries. The order of places to visit changes depending on whether you choose to camp or stay in accommodation. If you’re camping, you’ll visit Old Tanuf, historical forts and the Al Ayn UNESCO Beehive Tombs on Day 7, winding up at Wadi Damm to camp for the night. You can do the wadi walk and swim in the hidden pool on the morning of Day 8.

OLD TANUF

To start your day’s explorations, head north on Road 21 and turn off for Old Tanuf (20km). This ruined village of mudbrick houses is in an attractive setting, tucked below the mountains at the mouth of Wadi Tanuf. You can wander among crumbling houses, all that’s left after a 1950s bombardment by the British RAF at the behest of Sultan Sa’id bin Taimur during the Jebel Akhdar War.

The crumbling ruins of mudbrick houses beneath a blue sky in Old Tanuf, Oman

The crumbling ruins of Old Tanuf



The crumbling ruins of mudbrick houses beneath a blue sky in Old Tanuf, Oman

The crumbling ruins of Old Tanuf



BAHLA

Carry on looping west on Road 21 to Bahla (23km), home to an impressive fort, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its size is commanding, completely dominating the landscape. From a distance it looks like a giant child’s sandcastle – square with high sided walls and numerous round towers. Around the fort is a traditional mud-brick village, equally fascinating to explore, and palm groves. The citadel and fort date from the 12th to 15th centuries, however extensive renovation and restoration work has been carried out, leaving it in great condition today. It’s open daily from 9am – 4pm, 8am – 11am on Fridays.

The huge, blocky form of the sandy-coloured Bahla Fort in Oman, seen against a bold blue sky.

The impressively dominant Bahla Fort



The huge, blocky form of the sandy-coloured Bahla Fort in Oman, seen against a bold blue sky.

The impressively dominant Bahla Fort



JABRIN FORT

One last fort to visit, just 10km south of Bahla. Jabrin Fort is surrounded by date palms, a beautiful sight against the ochre mountains. It was built in the late 17th century and includes design features different to those seen at Nizwa or Bahla. The interior has intricate painted ceilings, hidden rooms, and numerous staircases and passageways. Entrance tickets (0.5 OMR, card only) include an excellent audio guide, making a visit to Jabrin more rewarding than Bahla if you’re interested in learning about the local history and culture. The view from the top over the surrounding landscape is wonderful, too.  It’s open daily from 9am – 4pm, 8am – 11am on Fridays.

A view over date palms, a village, dusty brown land and a distant mountain from Jabrin Fort in Oman, seen as part of a !0 day itinerary in the country

The view over the surrounding landscape from Jabrin Fort



The interior of one of the plush rooms in Jabrin Fort, visited on day 7 of a 10 day Oman itinerary

Stylish traditional decor inside the fort



The interior of one of the plush rooms in Jabrin Fort, visited on day 7 of a 10 day Oman itinerary

Stylish traditional decor inside the fort



AL AYN BEEHIVE TOMBS

From Jabrin, head west on Road 21, turning off for Al Ayn after 42km. Continue for another 27km to the village. There you’ll see a row of stone beehive tombs on the crest of a small hill to the left, the mighty Jebel Misht rising behind. Park up as close as you can and continue on foot to the tombs themselves. These date from the 3rd millennium BC, and are another UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are in remarkable condition, and the views are wonderful, particularly in the late afternoon when the landscape glows golden.

A close up of two UNESCO Bronze Age Beehive Tombs at Al Ayn in Oman, with Jebel Misht glowing in the late afternoon sun between them.

Getting up close with the Al Ayn Beehive Tombs. Jebel Misht lies behind, glowing golden from the late sun



A close up of two UNESCO Bronze Age Beehive Tombs at Al Ayn in Oman, with Jebel Misht glowing in the late afternoon sun between them.

Getting up close with the Al Ayn Beehive Tombs



WADI DAMM CAMP

From Al Ayn, continue another 14km to the start of Wadi Damm. You can drive down the wadi bed to an ideal parking/camping area, before the recharge dam wall. This is a popular picnic spot, and unfortunately there is often rubbish left lying around here (despite the provision of bins). If it’s too busy, or littered, you may prefer to camp above Wadi Damm (23.2331, 57.0915). If you’re camping in the wadi, look out for the incredible petroglyphs (pictorial rock carvings). These are believed to date from around 600BC. The best preserved collection is on a wall on the left behind the falaj. There are more on the right too, covering a large flat overhanging wall, but they have some graffiti around them.

Ancient rock carvings on a cliff wall in Wadi Damm, Oman.

Well preserved petroglyphs behind the falaj



A 4WD Toyota and a small orange tent in Wadi Damm, part of an off-road Oman 4x4 trip.

The ideal spot to set up camp in Wadi Damm



A 4WD Toyota and a small orange tent in Wadi Damm, part of an off-road Oman 4x4 trip.

The ideal spot to camp in Wadi Damm



OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 7 (HOTEL ITINERARY)

NIZWA to BAHLA
via JABRIN, BEEHIVE TOMBS & WADI DAMM
212 KM

HIGHLIGHTS

Historic Fort

Bronze Age Beehive Tombs

Hidden Wadi Pool

Ancient Petroglyphs

ACCOMMODATION

Bait Bahla Hospitality Inn
(traditional Omani home, next to fort)
Jibreen Hotel
(close to Jabrin Fort)
Bahla Hotel Apartments
(a little north of Bahla)
Bahla Jewel Hotel Apartments
(further north of Bahla still)

OR 

Return to Nizwa
(2 nights total in Nizwa)

CAMPING

See Alternative Day 7 Camping Itinerary


Historic sites and hidden wadi pool.

On Days 7 and 8 we’ve created two different itineraries. The order of places to visit changes depending on whether you choose to camp or stay in accommodation. If you’re staying in accommodation, you’ll visit Jabrin Fort, the UNESCO Beehive Tombs at Al Ayn and have a wadi adventure on Day 7, before returning to Bahla to stay the night. Alternatively, if you prefer to stay in one place for two nights, return to Nizwa (although this makes a longer journey).

JABRIN FORT

First up, head south from Nizwa, then west on Road 15 to Jabrin Fort (45km). It’s in a beautiful setting, surrounded by date palms, a lush contrast of green against the ochre mountains. It was built in the late 17th century and includes design features different to those seen at Nizwa or Bahla. The interior has intricate painted ceilings, hidden rooms, and numerous staircases and passageways. Entrance tickets (3 OMR, card only) include an excellent audio guide, making a visit to Jabrin far more rewarding than Bahla if you’re interested in learning about the local history and culture. The view from the top over the surrounding landscape is wonderful, too.  It’s open daily from 9am – 4pm, 8am – 11am on Fridays.

Looking straight up from the inner courtyard at Jabrin Fort in Oman. A rectangle of pale blue sky can be seen in the middle of the fort's converging walls.

Looking up from the central courtyard in the inner fort



Looking straight up from the inner courtyard at Jabrin Fort in Oman. A rectangle of pale blue sky can be seen in the middle of the fort's converging walls.

Looking up from the fort’s central courtyard



WADI DAMM & ANCIENT PETROGLYPHS

From Jabrin, head west on Road 21, turning off for Wadi Damm after 42km. Continue for another 39km to the start of the wadi walk (23.2314, 57.0697) and park up.

Pack a picnic and your swimming gear, for a stunning wadi pool awaits! The wadi walk is about 45 minutes to the best ‘hidden’ pool, passing numerous petroglyphs (pictorial rock carvings) on the way. These are believed to date from around 600BC – quite incredible! Look out for a particularly impressive collection around the parking area, on a wall on the left behind the falaj. There are more on the right too, but they have some graffiti around them unfortunately. You can spot more on the right further up the wadi if you keep your eyes peeled, not long after the rope/cave section.

Rock carvings of people on animals on a cliffside at Wadi Damm in Oman, part of a 10 Day Oman Itinerary

The petroglyphs on the wall of the wadi, tucked in behind the falaj before the dam



Rock carvings of people on animals on a cliffside at Wadi Damm in Oman, part of a 10 Day Oman Itinerary

The petroglyphs on the wall of the wadi,
tucked in behind the falaj before the dam



To reach the hidden pool, complete with natural shower and cascading curtain of ferns and moss, carry on beyond the first pool of water (about 30 minutes walk from the road), which at first glance seems to be the end point. If the water levels are low, use the rope that is attached to the wall to climb up and drop down the other side. If the water levels are high, you can reach the other side by heading through the cave on the left (or swim through the pool and use the rope technique). Continue walking for about 30 minutes, sticking mainly to the right side of the wadi, until you reach a solitary palm tree. Just beyond here you can drop down into the stunning pool.

A woman washes her face in the trickling water while bathing in the hidden pool at Wadi Damm in Oman.

The hidden pool at Wadi Damm is a wonderful place to spend an hour or two



A woman washes her face in the trickling water while bathing in the hidden pool at Wadi Damm in Oman.

The hidden pool at Wadi Damm is the
perfect place to spend an hour or two



Allow about 3-4 hours for your Wadi Damm adventure (the return walk itself takes about 2 hours).

AL AYN BEEHIVE TOMBS

After your wadi walk, return along the same road you came in on, pulling off at Al Ayn after 14km. You’ll see a row of stone beehive tombs on the crest of a small hill beyond the village and farmed fields, the mighty Jebel Misht rising behind. Park up as close as you can and continue on foot to the tombs themselves. These date from the 3rd millennium BC, and are another UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are in remarkable condition, and the views of the surrounding landscape are wonderful, particularly in the late afternoon light.

Beehive tombs in front of towering mountain Jebel Misht

Afternoon is the best time to appreciate the beehive tombs and the impressive bulk of Jebel Misht



Beehive tombs in front of towering mountain Jebel Misht

Afternoon is the best time to appreciate the
beehive tombs and the impressive Jebel Misht



TO BAHLA

Retrace your route back to Road 21 and turn off for Bahla (77km). The enormous fort here is impressive, but it can wait until morning to visit. Bait Bahla Hospitality Inn is perfectly located in the historic town, around the corner from the fort and souq. The family is very welcoming. Alternatively, stay at nearby Jibreen Hotel or one of the others mentioned in the Accommodation section above. Returning to Nizwa and spending a second night there is also an option (110km from Al Ayn).

FIND MORE ACCOMMODATION AROUND BAHLA

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OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 8 (CAMPING ITINERARY)

WADI DAMM to JEBEL SHAMS
148 KM

HIGHLIGHTS

Hidden Wadi Pool

Oman’s Grand Canyon

The Balcony Walk

ACCOMMODATION

Sama Heights Resort
(nice resort with variety of room types)
Jebel Shams Resort
(great location)
Canyon Rest House
(traditional style)

CAMPING

Edge of the ‘Grand Canyon’ Rim
(
23.2063, 57.2032)


Spectacular mountains, the Balcony Walk and an epic camp spot.

Start your day with a refreshing swim in a hidden wadi pool and end it with an epic sunset over Wadi An Nakhur, Oman’s Grand Canyon!

WADI DAMM WALK & HIDDEN POOL

You can get an early start walking up Wadi Damm. Head up the right side of the recharge dam wall and carry on for about 45 minutes to the best ‘hidden’ pool. You’ll reach a pool of water about 15 minutes walk in, which at first glance seems to be the end point, but keep going. If the water levels are low, use the rope that is attached to the wall to climb up and drop down the other side. If the water levels are high, you can reach the other side by heading through the cave on the left (or swim through the pool and use the rope technique). You can spot more petroglyphs on the right soon after. 

Continue walking for about 30 minutes, sticking mainly to the right side of the wadi, until you reach a solitary palm tree. Just beyond here you can drop down into the stunning pool, complete with natural shower and cascading ferns.

Hidden pool at Wadi Damm, a highlight of an Oman 10 Day Itinerary

Inside the hidden pool at Wadi Damm. The best ‘shower’ lies through the gap and just around the corner



Hidden pool at Wadi Damm, a highlight of an Oman 10 Day Itinerary

The hidden pool at Wadi Damm



Allow about 3-4 hours for your Wadi Damm adventure (the return walk itself takes about 2 hours).

If you’ve chosen to camp above Wadi Damm, you can drop down to the hidden pool by taking the faint path to the right down the hill. It’s about a 15 minute walk.

JEBEL SHAMS

From Wadi Damm you can take an off-road route to Jebel Shams (48km). Drive back out the wadi and turn left at 23.2256, 57.0382. Drive for 10km then turn left again at 23.1630, 57.0714. After a further 10.8km you’ll reach the main road leading up to Jebel Shams. Turn left and continue all the way to the rim of the Grand Canyon and Al Khitaym village (26km). The views up here are spectacular. Look down into Wadi An Nakhur, across to Jebel Shams (one of the highest mountains in Arabia at 3000m), and beyond.

A view down into the dramatic Oman Grand Canyon and across to the country's highest mountain, Jebel Shams

Looking down into Wadi An Nakhur (the ‘Grand Canyon’) and across to Jebel Shams



A view down into the dramatic Oman Grand Canyon and across to the country's highest mountain, Jebel Shams

Looking down into the depths of Wadi An Nakhur
(the ‘Grand Canyon’) and across to Jebel Shams



THE BALCONY WALK

Park up by Al Khitaym village, pack some snacks and water, and get started on the Balcony Walk. This is officially known as route W6 and takes you on a stunning walk along a balcony-like ledge, high above Wadi An Nakhur. It’s a relatively easy 7km return walk, leading to the abandoned village of As Sab, and back the same way. Allow about 3 hours, including time to explore the village. There are yellow, white and red painted markers showing the way, but it would be hard to get lost anyway.

A person follows the path under a rocky overhang on The Balcony Walk in Oman's Grand Canyon.

The Balcony Walk winds its way under some pretty cool overhangs



A person follows the path under a rocky overhang on The Balcony Walk in Oman's Grand Canyon.

The Balcony Walk winds its way
under some pretty cool overhangs



CAMPING

This is a popular spot for camping and there are numerous options along the edge of the rim to pitch your tent. Our favourite spot is a little hidden, accessible only by 4WD as the final approach is rough and rocky. It has its own mini balcony walk, wind protection from a man-made stone wall, and incredible sunrise views (23.2063, 57.2032).

Golden sunrise light hits the wall of the Omani Grand Canyon below Jebel Shams. A 4WD and tent sits on the rim of the canyon.

The ideal camp spot on the canyon rim, only accessible by 4WD on a bumpy, rocky track



Golden sunrise light hits the wall of the Omani Grand Canyon below Jebel Shams. A 4WD and tent sits on the rim of the canyon.

The ideal camp spot on the canyon rim, only
accessible by 4WD on a bumpy, rocky track



OMAN 4×4 ITINERARY: DAY 8 (HOTEL ITINERARY)

BAHLA to JEBEL SHAMS
via TANUF
91 KM

HIGHLIGHTS

Bahla Fort

Old Tanuf

Oman’s Grand Canyon

The Balcony Walk

ACCOMMODATION

Sama Heights Resort
(nice resort with variety of room types)
Jebel Shams Resort
(great location)
Canyon Rest House
(traditional style)

CAMPING

Edge of the ‘Grand Canyon’ Rim
(
23.2063, 57.2032)


Forts, ruins and Oman’s ‘Grand Canyon’.

Start your day by exploring historic Bahla and Tanuf, then ascend to Jebel Shams for the stunning Balcony Walk, followed by an epic sunset over Wadi An Nakhur, Oman’s Grand Canyon!

BAHLA

Bahla Fort offers up your second UNESCO World Heritage Site in less than 24 hours! Its size is commanding, completely dominating the landscape. From a distance it looks like a giant child’s sandcastle – square with high sided walls and numerous round towers. Around the fort are palm groves and a traditional mud-brick village, equally fascinating to explore. The citadel and fort date from the 12th to 15th centuries. However, extensive renovation and restoration work has been carried out, leaving it in great condition today. It’s open daily from 9am – 4pm, 8am – 11am on Fridays.

The large sandy coloured Bahla Fort dominates the landscape in Bahla, Oman. The fort is surrounded by low houses and date palms, and the mountains rise behind

Bahla Fort completes the classic Omani scene of mountains, date palms and traditional houses



The large sandy coloured Bahla Fort dominates the landscape in Bahla, Oman. The fort is surrounded by low houses and date palms, and the mountains rise behind

Bahla Fort completes the classic Omani scene
of mountains, date palms and traditional houses



OLD TANUF

From Bahla, head north on Road 21 and turn off for Old Tanuf (20km). This ruined village of mudbrick houses is in an attractive setting, tucked below the mountains at the mouth of Wadi Tanuf. You can wander among crumbling houses, all that’s left after a 1950s bombardment by the British RAF at the behest of Sultan Sa’id bin Taimur during the Jebel Akhdar War.