“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Camels, sand dunes, exotic sunsets and luxury tents – desert ‘glamping’ is without a doubt one experience you must enjoy for yourself if you are lucky enough to be exploring the Middle East.
In this post our family adventure in Oman continues and our road trip takes us to 1000 Nights Camp, located in the heart of Wahiba Sands. Time to head ‘off grid’ and enjoy the custom built comforts designed to provide insights into the nomadic lifestyle of the desert-dwelling Bedouins.
Don’t expect to have to wait until night fall for your ‘Glamping‘ adventure to start. Excitement will soar the second the car tyres leave the tarmac at Al Mintrib, signalling the beginning of your journey along the sand. Golden hues radiate off the dunes which instantly dominate the landscape, beckoning you to drive in and explore this natural desert environment.
There are two ways to enter Wahiba Sands – either by following the progression of the main road through the town or, if you trust the skills of your designated driver, you can head straight over the top of the nearest dune.
Can you guess which option won the vote in our car?
Dune bashing is a common term used to describe off-road driving on sand dunes and thankfully, in this case, our guide was sensitive to the fact that we were a young family. Even so, I held my breath all the way to the top of our first sand dune and struggled to convince myself to look out the car window during the descent.
The same couldn’t be said for our Little Girl.
It came as such a surprise to realise she loved the adrenalin rush and, in her excitement, she coined the activity ‘Sand Bashing’, which instantly became the term-of-the-day.
The view which greeted us on the other side was a vast space like we had never seen. The wind had beautifully decorated the towering dunes by leaving artistic designs in the sands, while the sprinkling of greenery added a colourful contrast to the neutral, yet unexpectedly vibrant, desert tones.
There is a stunning 40km journey to enjoy from the start of the well trodden sand road to 1000 Nights Camp. A passage which seamlessly passes through what can only be described as a spectacular valley of towering and alluring sand dunes.
The desert is inhabited by a small community of Bedouin people, Omani locals and their herds however, the further we travelled along our journey, the less evidence we saw of these settlements.
It was mesmerising to watch the constant changing of the sands colour and texture along the way and especially exciting to come across camels casually meandering along the horizon. I definitely recommend stopping at some point (if time permits) to stretch your legs and enjoy some playful time on the dunes.
Hardened plastic masses weighing up to 50kg have been removed from camels stomaches here in the UAE, you can read more about this here and here. Yes the issues rising out of our now ‘plastic society’ is not only fatal for marine life but also the desert dwelling animals.
There are no corner stores or coffee shops to be found around every sand dune, so bringing your own is the only option. You can help keep our vulnerable animals safe by choosing reusables when travelling and leaving an area as clean, or in better condition than you found it. Let’s all adopt the #take3UAE habit whenever we find ourself exploring these gorgeous natural environments. Together we really can make a positive difference…
1000 Nights Camp is perfectly nestled in amongst the ‘dune field’, the neutral tones of the buildings complimenting the area rather than drawing attention away from the surroundings. The camp has been tastefully decorated with a much more ‘minimalist mood’ than the tourist resorts in the cities and, although this is definitely ‘glamping’ as opposed to traditional camping, the decor is one of the more authentic representations of desert life we have seen.
It is important to remember the Bedouin people were camel and goat herders who led a very nomadic lifestyle. They owned very little material items and their homes were Arabic Tents made from the wool of goat and sheep. The weave of the animal hair contracts in the wet season repelling the rain, keeps the inside cool during the summer and can be made very cosy in the winter by lighting a small fire inside. So yes, 1000 Nights Camp has added a certain touch of ‘luxury’ to their dwellings and has four styles of accommodation options for you to tailor make your own desert experience.
- Sand house – very posh looking stand alone buildings slightly up the hill
- Ameer Tent – partial building partial tent for those looking for a taste of both worlds
- Sheikh Tent – permanent building with solid flooring but tent walls
- Arabic Tent – for those after the authentic nomadic experience of Bedouin accommodation
We chose the Sheikh Tent which was a happy medium between luxury and camping – true ‘glamping’ I’d say. The absolute highlight was the roofless bathroom where we could shower (yes there was cool but running water) and have a quiet ‘sit’ under the stars. The children were impressed with having ‘real’ beds – maybe they presumed we were going to pull out the ‘swags’… 😂
The generators provided electricity to our tent, basic toiletries and a tea/coffee facilities were included along with linen for the beds and fresh towels.
There are mixed online reviews regarding the cleanliness and maintenance of this accommodation and my opinion is, considering we were completely surrounded by the natural elements of the raw desert, the amount of sand we encountered through out our stay was nothing more than expected.
The atmosphere and mood at the resort is much calmer than the pace of other holiday resorts and nothing compares to the surrounding stillness during sunset. Make sure you allow time to complete the check in process and still make it up to the highest vantage points for the best ‘sunset’ views. You can’t refer to them as uninterrupted views as the towering desert dunes certainly monopolise the horizon. The changing colours of the sky and responding shades which progressed to cover the sands just has to be one of the highlights of an overnight stay in the desert.
The sand dunes definitely unlocked a playfulness in our children and an adrenalin rush which inspired them to run, giggle, wrestle and of course attempt to ‘fly’ from top to bottom. For me the isolation evoked a mixture of emotions from feeling alive and free to moments of realisation around just how long it has been since I have had the opportunity to ‘disconnect’ from the bustle of our more cosmopolitan lifestyle.
There was plenty of time for reflection during the sunset hour until the winds came up and the fun aspect of being surrounded by sand began to disappear. Sand and wind don’t mix too well especially when there is nowhere to shelter. This marked the perfect time to hop back in the 4WD, head back down to camp and prepare for dinner.
Although we choose to drive up the desert dunes to enjoy the evening sunset you can certainly walk if you have the energy. There are also camel rides available for those who have thought to plan ahead.
Related Post: Looking for an overnight Desert Experience in Abu Dhabi? Here is the link to a great review of Arabian Nights Village Abu Dhabi written by Keri @Our Globetrotters.
The meals are served buffet style and are a combination of International and Arabic style cuisine.
They are served in the semi open, yet well protected, Arabian Nights Restaurant designed to take full advantage of the surrounding views and consistent weather. Everyone in our family enjoyed the food, including our two children who especially loved the novelty of exploring the layout of the building and then sitting on and being surrounded by the traditional cushions.
Music filled the night air as we were treated to live entertainment throughout the evening and a more vibrant mood was brought to life as the crowd were welcome to interact with the local musicians.
Please keep in mind this is a dry camp which means there is no alcohol available on site.
Breakfast was also served in the restaurant the following day and we were more than happy with the selection of cereals, the cooked options (yes including delicious pancakes), fresh fruits and beverages which were on offer.
Related Post: Desert, Souks and an Oasis – Family Road Trip to Al Ain
Our time at 1000 Nights Camp was limited to one night and we felt this was long enough to enjoy the experience. We had plenty of time to explore the camp, enjoy the sand dunes, visit the Gazelles and Oryx in the holding pen and burn off energy sand tobogganing. There is also a children’s play ground perfect for those travelling with little ones.
We didn’t use the swimming pool which, now I think of it, would’ve been the perfect way to freshen up after keeping up with and racing the children down the face of the dunes on a toboggan. You know the saying ‘when in Rome…’
Needless to say the car trip back to Muscat was a quiet one and since we had an experienced driver, most family members took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep.
Pin for Later
PHEW – what a busy couple of days this was and such an adventure filled with unique experiences. For those who missed the start of this road trip can read about our visit to Wadi Bani Khalid here.
I know I say it every week but I especially mean it this week. Would LOVE to hear about your experiences if you have been lucky enough to have been ‘glamping’ in the desert or even if you are a desert camper and have some tips or cool locations to share.
Join the conversation here:-
Disclaimer: CWMS has in no way or means been sponsored by 1000 Nights Camp to write this post and the thoughts and opinions expressed are purely our own. CWMS is excited to share this discovery and to start conversations which aligns with our Keeping it R.E.A.L ethos.