GOLD FRANKINCENSE & METEORITES - with Fred Watson 23 February - 4 March 2018 / Oman // SOLD OUT
- Duration: 10 Days
- Location: Dubai
- Product code: Oman18
* 2 Places Left*
Looking up at the skies has ignited humanity’s imagination for centuries and this was no exception for the Arabic scholars who looked to the heavens for answers. The stars and planets have been sources of many legends and myths as well as science and facts and play a key to our system of mathematics and understanding of the solar system.
The sultanate’s mountains and deserts of Oman provide a beautiful isolated location where the stars shine their brightest, and we look forward to sharing these with you.
Day 1 - Friday 23 February 2018 - Muscat
Entering Oman (*flight not included), you will be ‘fast-tracked’ through passport control and assisted with luggage. We then transfer guests to the Crowne Plaza, a centrally located 4-star hotel with a variety of restaurants, pools and a private beach. Relax and spend some time at leisure before meeting for dinner in one of the hotel’s restaurants. Crowne Plaza – (B, L, D)
Day 2 - Saturday 24 February
After breakfast, we head to the Grand Mosque. This stunning example of a modern mosque has been designed with traditional Arabic and Islamic features. From the Mosque, we visit the Royal Opera House built on the orders of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. Next, we head to the old town of Muscat - Muttrah. The souq here is a labyrinth of alleys and quirky stalls selling anything from plastic pots to antique Martini rifles. After lunch we continue to Bait Al Zubair; a collection of traditional houses refurbished to highlight Oman's traditional architecture. Crowne Plaza – (B)
Day 3 - Sunday 25 February
Today we begin our foray into the Interior and spend six days taking in Oman’s impressive scenery; desert, mountains, traditional towns, forts and souks. Travelling in 4WD, our local guides will specialise in different subjects, such as local history and culture, nature and geography. Leaving Muscat we turn away from the sea and head up the northern face of the eastern Hajar Mountains reaching the impressive Selmah Plateau, over 2,000m above sea level. This long, west-facing ridge is spectacularly lined with numerous ‘beehive’ tombs built by the Umm Naa people in around 2,500 BC.
After lunch, we head steeply down into Wadi Kabbah, through traditional villages, past old forts, watchtowers and date plantations. Passing the 18th-century fort at Mudayrib and with the sun beginning to drop, we enter the desert and drive to our camp in the russet red dunes. Hud hud camp - (B, L, D)
Day 4 - Monday 26 February
After a relaxed breakfast, we drive out of the desert to Wadi Bani Khalid, one of the greatest, most dramatic wadis in Oman. The village still farms in a traditional manner growing dates, bananas, mangos and papaya. Take a walk through this remote and little-visited community provides an insight into the lives of Omanis.
The wadi flows out of the village and into a dramatic and steep-sided canyon, which winds up from its entrance, occasioned by rock pools ideal for a quick dip. We will serve a delicious Hud Hud picnic lunch in the shade of the cliffs. We return late afternoon to enjoy another night under the stars with Fred Watson pointing out his favourite northern hemisphere constellations. Hud hud camp - (B, L, D)
Day 5 - Tuesday 27 February
Feeling energetic? Time to stretch your legs and hike to the top of the dunes to watch the sunrise over the magnificent Wahiba Sands desert. After breakfast, we leave the dunes behind us and stop at some well persevered old merchant’s houses on the outskirts of Ibra. The drive to Jebel Akhdar with a lunch stop in the beautiful village of Birkat Al Mauz.
Shaded date plantations are overlooked by the ruins of the original village of Birkat, which was evacuated during the Jebel wars. Here we can take a short walk along the falaj (ancient irrigation system) and learn more about how it has been used in agriculture and farming for many centuries and is still used today.
From here we continue to the foot of Jebel Akhdar and wind up 2,000m to the Saiq Plateau, passing luscious juniper, fig and olive trees, before we arrive at the Alila in time for sunset. The resident Astronomer tonight will show us around the skies after dinner. Alila, Jebel Akhdar (B, L, D)
Day 6 - Wednesday 28 February
We spend the day exploring the village of Wadi Bani Habib, and a walk through the ruins of the old settlements provides us with an interesting insight into what life may have been like here centuries ago.
Jebel Akhdar also has great importance in Oman’s military history and British RAF relics can still be found here. The geology is fascinating and best explored by one of the great walks in this area.
Here we will be joined by a geologist who will accompany the group for two days and provide insights on the fascinating geology of this area. Alila, Jebel Akhdar (B, L)
Day 7 - Thursday 1 - March Hajar Mountains
After a leisurely breakfast and some leisure time in the morning, we descend Jebel Akhdar and discover some of the old towns and villages in the foothills of Jebel Shams (Jebel Akhdar’s neighbouring peak).
Al Hamra, a 400-year-old town, is home to some of the oldest preserved houses that can be found in Oman. Winding up the rocky hillside, is the small ancient village of Misfat al Abriyyin with its picturesque collection of ochre-coloured stone buildings, giving it a somewhat medieval feel. A walk through this pretty village of twisting lanes and covered passages brings you to the falaj, which runs below the village, surrounded by lush bougainvillea, banana palms and other greenery.
We then gradually make our way up to our final camp above the town of Tanuf, nestled in the mountains 1,000m above sea level, in time for sundowners. Exclusive Hud Hud Camp in the Hajar Mountains - (B, L, D)
Day 8 - Friday 2 March Nizwa Market/Return to Muscat
We drive to Nizwa after an early breakfast, where the market on a Friday, can be a thriving and fascinating affair.
We will head towards the UNESCO listed town of Bahla, famous for its fabulous old fort, 'souk' and handmade pottery. The town of Jabrin is not much further and is home to, what is considered to be, Oman's most impressive fort, built during the Ya'ruba dynasty in 1675 and a marvel of castle engineering.
After a picnic lunch, we journey back to Muscat. The route passes traditional villages, wadis, date plantations, old forts, and watchtowers and we will also stop at the Amouage factory. This is where one of the world’s most expensive perfumes is produced using ingredients found in Oman including frankincense and bakhoor.
We return to Muscat in the late afternoon and check in to the Crowne Plaza and guests will have the rest of the day at leisure. Crowne Plaza (B, L)
Day 9 - Saturday 3 March Muscat
After breakfast, we will take a short drive to the marina, on the coaster minibuses, and board a traditional wooden dhow. We will sail to Bandar Khirain, a labyrinth of islands, beaches, Omani mountains, bays and natural channels. We spend the morning exploring the bays, swimming, and snorkelling, before disembarking at a secluded beach where we will serve a fantastic barbeque lunch under shades.
We sail back to Muscat in the mid-afternoon and return to The Chedi. To end this fabulous tour, we have a special final evening prepared for you, with dinner and a concert at the Royal Opera House of Oman. Crowne Plaza (B, D)
Day 10 - Sunday 4 March Depart
Transfer to the airport after breakfast to meet your flight home, or on to join with EGYPT and the Ancient Skies.
Our first campsite looks like a film set from Lawrence of Arabia: three black-and-white-striped goat-hair tents (bespoke from Aleppo, Syria) and a majlis, or sitting room, decorated with antique coffee pots, cushions, Indian silks, and fine wool blankets from Dhofar. - Susan Hack Conde Naste
Sleeping tents are appointed with proper mattresses, crisp cotton linen, feather pillows and traditional furnishings. Each sleeping tent has its own private bathroom tent, open to the skies and furnished with soft towels, basin, shower and a selection of soaps and lotions.
The camp will offer a large, evocative majlis, decorated in a style in keeping with the ambiance of the environment, with cushions and rugs, topical books, boules and board games. There is no electric light, other than solar, and the emphasis is on preserving the atmosphere through natural lighting provided by candles, oil lamps and camp fires.
Dining is at a properly laid table under the stars beside a crackling fire. Food is, as far as possible, locally sourced and is freshly prepared by our camp chef and always delicious. In each camp, we will set up a separate area for stargazing after dinner, away from the lanterns and the camp fires, with clear views of the night sky.
* Tour host - astronomer, Prof Fred Watson
* VIP visa assistance on arrival at Muscat International Airport
* Tour manager
• Geologist and astronomer in residence
• 2 nights in a private and exclusive Hud Hud camp in the Wahiba Sands
• 2 nights at the Alila in Mountain View Suites
• 1 night in a private and exclusive Hud Hud camp in the Hajar Mountains
• 4 nights at the Crowne Plaza, Muscat
• Traditional dhow Snorkels and towels provided.
• All breakfast, lunches, and dinners as per itinerary
• English speaking guides
• International / Australian Domestic airfares with Emirates Airlines
• Additional charge(s) relating to documentation regarding visas or travel arrangements.
• Travel insurance (required)
• Costs of passport or visas
• Beverages during meals except where indicated
• Optional excursions
• Personal expenses and anything else not included in the 'tour includes' features
What’s the weather like in Oman in February?
With its beautiful beaches, vibrant cities and year-round sunshine, Oman is an ideal winter holiday destination with long, hot summers and mild, dry winters. While the summer months can be very hot in Oman, from December to March temperatures are much more pleasant, making February the ideal time of year to relax on the picture-perfect sands or explore the local sights.
In February, temperatures in Oman vary depending on where you visit. On the north coast, the capital Muscat has an average daytime temperature of around 22°C at this time of year, with highs of 26°C and lows of 18°C at night. Further south, the mountainous regions are usually cooler and wetter. On average the north coastal regions have around 11 hours of sunshine each day, with just 30mm of rain expected during the month. For days by the sea, the water’s warm at 24°C in February, perfect for swimming or snorkelling.
Entry and exit
As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs, and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, you should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Sultanate of Oman for the most up to date information.
If you are arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to be allowed entry into Oman. The World Health Organization provides a list of countries
endemic for yellow fever.
The importation of pornography is forbidden.
When in Oman, children born of an Omani father are considered to be Omani nationals and require their father's permission to depart the country.
If a traveller's passport contains evidence of entry to Israel or another country's border crossing points with Israel, entry will be denied.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.