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Weekend Escape at a Desert Camp
January 10, 2018 | 6:05 PM
by Salem Afifi
 
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Spending a night by the silky dunes of Oman has been a wish since long. There is something wickedly beautiful about the eeriness that the desert offers to its occupants that sparks a desire to explore the unexplored and wander in graceful isolation in a land where the days are painted in a golden-teal palettes and evenings are blessed with starry nights and dark, velvet skies. What else could one ask for? Recently I went on an epic adventure trip to Sama Al Wasil Desert Camp, where I spent an unforgettable weekend. Most people think of deserts as sand-covered lands that carry excruciatingly hot weather and a bunch of lizards and tumbleweeds. That may be somewhat accurate but there are tonnes of other fun things that one can do in the desert and have a great time.

I started planning for my desert trip ahead of time. As I was taking notes from my fellow desert dwellers who camp in the desert almost every month, a friend of mine suggested that I check out a place called Sama Al Wasil. He described it as a unique getaway that will add another interesting layer to your trip. After discussing with friends, we decided to drive to the desert and stay at the camp instead of going through the hustle of dry camping.

We packed our bags and took our 4x4 and hit the road to Al Sharqiyah. Thanks to GPS applications like Waze, we managed to easily locate the camp. We reached a place where we had to enter the actual desert and drive for about 30-minutes to reach camp. The flat surface was tucked between two humongous dunes that stretched from the road all the way to the camp, serving serene, sandy views and camels, too.

As we arrived in the camp, we were welcomed by the friendly staff who guided us towards the checking-in office. My jaw dropped to the floor in awe of the beauty of the place. The moment I passed the wooden, traditional door and stepped a foot into the camp I soon realised that it was not a typical desert camp; it was a green paradisiac wonderland that had green lush, chalet huts, tents, and an Omani-inspired living and camping, designed in a circular fashion, between massive dunes of Al Sharqiyah. I was thrilled to explore what the place had to offer.



After checking-in, the staff escorted to the Majlis, a spacious open area where guests sit and relax before they go to their rooms. The place had a pure bedouin lifestyle,with a floor-seating area, adorned with carpets and cushions in traditional red-and-black fabric. As we sat, a plate full of fruits, sweet dates, and Omani Kahwa was served. We were quite hungry so we devoured the tropical platter and washed it down with their in-house, delicious coffee.

We decided to chill for a bit, taking in all the positive energy that surrounded this garden of a place and at the same time wondering how could a place grow this much greenery in the middle of the desert.

It was soon time to head to our rooms to relax. There are two types of accommodation in the camp. There are 29 chalets (including two family rooms), and then you have seven Arabian tents. I had to experience both, so we booked a night in the chalet, and another night in the tent.

The chalet rooms sport a rustic, antique finish, with traditional decorative elements gracing its walls. The rooms were inspired by bedouins culture, and the influence can be spotted at the ceiling of each room, which is adorned with interesting drawings that are similar to those in bedouin homes. I loved how the decor is nailed down to the detail. From wooden doors and windows, to lanterns, and clothes hangers, they are just perfect for the theme. And, each chalet has carpeted exterior area, a patio of some sort, where you can sit and enjoy breezy and quiet evening.

Tents on the other hand are situated at the end of the camp, near by the sand dunes, where Al Sultan tents can be seen sporting a black-and-white, very bedouin royal-inspired decor, with a traditional bedouin interior that features their iconic red-and-black, water-proof fabric. Traditional lamps, lanterns, and furniture can also be found in the tent; elevating your experience to another level.

Simply put, the chalets are for green-loving folks, and the tents are for those who wish to experience true desert camping (with AC and a full-functioning bathroom). Overall, the rooms added a comfort element to our desert experience, giving this land of solitude and excruciating heat another meaning.

After exploring the rooms, we went to have dinner at their dining area that’s covered in a massive tent with traditional decor. The place has three types of seating areas. You can have it the modern way, on a dining table under the tent, or you can enjoy a traditional Arabic seating area on the ground, in the open air. Why would we miss an opportunity to experience the culture.

By 9pm, our stomachs were full. We head to their bonfire dedicated area and sat by the fire, sharing horror stories.

The next day, we focused on the most exciting part of this trip, the activities. There are a tonne of things to do when staying at Sama Al Wasil Camp. There is camel riding in the morning, camel safaris, dune bashing, desert crossing with cruisers, quad bike adventures, sand boarding, paragliding, setting up bonfires, and my absolute favourite sunset watching. All these activities can be arranged and customised at the camp. I got to try most of these fun-filled adventures, which made me want to spend a week, exploring the desert more.

My experience at Sama Al Wasil was nothing short of a wonderful stay at an eco-friendly environment. Those who love the beach and the mountain and never been to this land are definitely missing out on the beauty of what deserts have to offer. The staff at the place were friendly, the food and barbecue sessions were lip-smacking good, and the atmosphere was to die for. This is not your typical hotel or camp, it’s a home away from home that can be customised to give you the ultimate desert experience that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Weekend Itinerary

Thursday

4pm: Leave Muscat and head towards the camp. Put the name of the camp on apps like Waze or Google Maps and hit the road.

7pm: Have dinner at Sama Al Wasil’s full-fledge buffet served from 7pm to 9pm. Make sure to try their chargrilled meats and chicken; just delicious.

9pm: Head to the bonfire area and have a great, warm bonding experience with your friends. It’s also a great time to take artsy photos with the fire, because its huge, which will add a cool filter to your image.

10pm: Call it a day and head to your room for a deep sleep. Tomorrow is when the extreme fun begins.

Friday

7am: Rise and shine. Wake up, freshen up, and head for breakfast at the camp’s buffet. Make sure to drink lots of water because today will be long.

8am: It’s time to explore the desert. Take a desert safari trip and head atop the dunes for an absolute feel of isolation and serenity, while exploring the bedouin culture. Opt for a camel safari, which will take about five hours to have a round across the area on a camel’s back, visiting bedouins, and even stopping for lunch, among other things.

1pm: Now that you had your lunch and enjoyed getting familiar with the desert, get back to the camp for some rest. Shower and have a much-needed nap.

4pm: Go to the Majlis for some dates and coffee. Then head out for some quad-bike sessions. Take the four-wheeled bike and have a ball crossing the dunes that surround the camp, and there are a tonne of places to explore. Don’t forget to take some water with you, we don’t want you all dehydrated.

5pm: Get back to camp and head towards the back (nearby the tent houses) where you’ll find a rope that takes you to the top of the dunes. It’s an excellent spot of sunset watching, an activity you shouldn’t miss at all costs - breathtaking.

7pm: While you’re on top, sand-board your way back to the camp and head for dinner.

9pm: You will be super exhausted by this time, bed is the only option. Head back to your room and turn the lights out for a good night sleep.

Saturday

7am: Wake up all fresh and ready for some breakfast. Have some eggs, coffee, and yoghurt. Afterwards, get ready for a new adventure.

8am: Get ready for a killer adventure. If you dare and enjoy being up in the air, then prepare yourself for some paragliding session, which is a tonne of fun. The instructor is friendly and will also ride with you, so the only thing that you should worry about is not missing out the fun of flying!

10am: Take your buddies in a 4x4 and explore the desert some more. This time around, ask the driver to show you what dune bashing means. It’s an experience you wouldn’t forget, especially if you are an adrenaline junkie. Make sure to hold on tight, because it will sure be a bumpy ride.

3pm: Head back to camp. Take a quick shower. Pack your bags and head home. On your way back, don’t forget to take photographs of the beautiful land Al Sharqiyah has to offer.

A Chalet room costs OMR60

(including breakfast and dinner)

A Tent Room costs OMR65

(including breakfast and dinner)

Sama Al Wasil Desert Camp

Al Wasil Village, Wahiba Sands,

Al Sharqiyah

+968 9112 6369


[email protected]



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