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Arabian Nights: Glamping in the Desert

Whether you're dunebashing, sandboarding, or stargazing, there's nothing quite like the desert camping experience for a little adventure and reflection.

In the evenings, as the sun sets and burns the sky orange, the rounded sand dunes stand in stark black as night approaches. In the desert, sunlight seems hide rather than fade; when it’s gone, the stars fill the space. From the vantage of a tent, the harsh lifestyle of the desert is experienced in comfort.

Whether it’s dunebashing or stargazing, deep in the sprawling Omani desert, Desert Nights camp mixes luxury relaxation and exploration. But, let’s be honest: The desert is a place for adventure.

That said, travelers looking to surf the dunes and tear up the sand with a 4×4 will find the peaceful atmosphere of the camp an oasis of calm. The camp, of course, brings with it the modern conveniences of luxury camping – with the added benefit of expert advice and delicate Arabian cuisine – and there’s nowhere quite like the desert stars for a little reflection.

Camel Safari and Wadi Bani Khalid

ABOVE: Camels in the Omani desert. The Exotic Sunset Camel Safari is one of the signature experiences at the Desert Nights camp.

One can’t claim to have properly experienced the desert wastes without experiencing it from the back of a camel. The Exotic Sunset Camel Safari is one of Desert Night’s most popular attractions: the vast dunes of an Arabian desert bathed in the glow of the setting sun. Be warned, however, that camels aren’t like you’ve seen in the cartoons. These massive beasts rise high above the sand, giving travelers a steeper view than they might expect.

For those planning to make the most of the location’s excursions, just an hour and forty minute taxi ride from the Desert Nights Camp is the Wadi Bani Khalid. A wadi is a valley, and in this parched part of the world, the riverbeds make for remarkable scenery.

ABOVE: The Wadi Bani Khalid, found about 200 kilometers from Muscat.

This wadi – sitting about 200 kilometers from Muscat – is perhaps one of Oman’s finest, where water streams from a natural spring into the higher reaches. The shifting shades of aqua marine water clash against the natural grey of the sandstone ridges. If the heat doesn’t take your breath away, scenery will. It’s quite a drive, but it’s worth the trip.

Doing the Dunes

ABOVE: The dunes around the Desert Nights camp provide a great opportunity to tear up the sand with 4x4s and ATVs.

The type of traveler who thinks of 4x4s and ATVs when they think of the dunes will, of course, find more than enough adventure at the Desert Nights camp. For their first spot of dune bashing, travelers are encouraged to jump in an available sports utility vehicle or quad bike and take to the desert for a few spins, tricks, and – well – tearing up the sand dunes like a mad person because it’s ruddy good fun.

If dune trekking is more your style (and speed), travelers should explore the stunning red sands of the Wahiba on foot. This option, it must be said, can be a little grueling in the midday sun of the desert. Stay hydrated and know your limits.

ABOVE: Sandboarding involves climbing up a dune and shredding down a hill of sand on a snowboard.

For those without limits, there’s sandboarding. It’s pretty simple and follows the rules of snowboarding: go up, go down, and try not to land face first. In the Wahiba desert, however, there are no ski lifts. Hike the dunes and sled back down seated or on your feet for a thrill ride you probably won’t find back home.

ABOVE: The Desert Nights luxury camping experience includes world-class cuisine.

Sated with the thrills of the sand – and of the plush glamping experience – there are still cultural experiences to be had. Unique souvenirs at the local Souq are always a draw, or you could pay a visit to a traditional Bedouin family house to better understand the Omani desert lifestyle.

Desert holidays aren’t for everyone. They take effort, but that’s rather in their nature. Deserts are empty. You get out of them what you put in.