Oman : Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali)

To the north of Salalah is the region known as the Nejd. This is a barren desolate area that is actually the southern fringe of the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali). It is an area of huge sweeping sand dunes and parched dry wadis. Lying 175 km north of Salalah is the remote village of Shisr. Here in the early nineties, with the help of satellite imagery from the space shuttle, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and some other explorers found what they believe to be the lost city of Ubar. Called by T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) as the 'Atlantis of the sands', Ubar was once considered to be the trading centre for frankincense before it was buried in the rising dunes. Once described as a bejeweled capital with towering spires all that remains are some low level ruins and a small spring which used to supply the city.

The lost city isn't all the dunes are hiding, the area has some fascinating geology as you dig up crystal filled geodes from the sand and the area also has numerous fossils. To the west of Ubar are the 'proper' dunes some rising to several hundred feet and stretch well beyond the horizon. This is the area that Wilfred Thesiger mapped and explored in his book 'Arabian Sands'. The dunes are a fascinating place to visit and we highly recommend a night camping amongst the dunes or if you are looking for a cultural experience we can also arrange for you to stay for a night with a local Bedu family who make a living herding camels on the edge of the desert.

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close up of geodes

The camping trips are all conducted in 4x4 vehicles you will sleep in dome tent (or under the stars) on a folding bed. Sleeping bags, pillows, chairs, tables and portable toilet are all provide. Each of the vehicles is also equipped with a reserve petrol tan, first aid kit, satellite phone and GPS and most importantly a Bedouin guide! Plenty of water is provided as well as soft drinks, dates and the famous strong Omani coffee or sweet tea!

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