Jewels of Arabia: Emirates & Oman Tour
March 8 – 21, 2014
$XXXX pp/do, land only
Minimum 4 people to guarantee departure at this price – More details to come soon!
Sat Mar 8: Arrival
Welcome to the Emirates! On arrival in Dubai you will be met and assisted, then transferred to our hotel for overnight.
Sun Mar 9: Tours of Sharjah and Dubai
Breakfast at the hotel, then at 9:00am meet with our guide for a short orientation, then depart for Sharjah for a tour of the city. We start at the Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi Mosque and walk along the Corniche, watching the people working on the Dhows, on- and offloading goods being transported in the very traditional way. In the direct neighborhood you find a lot of little shops selling all kind of goods for the more modern day to day life. While strolling along, you might even find something you would like to take home.
A little further down the street we come across the old Souq. Beautiful little stores, selling the very traditional bits and pieces, traditional clothing for Him and Her, the Kandoura, Agal, Gutrah and Kaffia or the Abaya, Sheila and Sirwal. Take your time and even stroll through little alleyways to get a feeling for it all. Continue your walk towards Al Hisn Fort, home of the former ruler of Sharjah, where a very interesting movie is shown about the history of Sharjah as well as the very first Airport in the UAE. Following a short stroll through Al Arsah Souk we visit the Blue Souq, where more than 600 shops sell carpets, gold, silver, antiques, perfumes, clothes and many other temptations. From the souq we have a view of the King Faisal mosque next to the Ittihad monument. Lunch is on your own arrangements and we will stop and give everyone time to get a bite to eat. We then return to Dubai for a Dubai City Tour, a fascinating historical excursion.
First visit the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, to get an amazing view of the city, ocean, and desert. Next, our route takes us to the magnificent Jumeirah mosque; past modern palaces sprawled along the coast. In Bastakia we stop for a while to admire the old wind-tower houses built by wealthy merchants. Close by, stands the 150-year old Al Fahidi Fort. Here, the Dubai Museum records the city’s past as an important pearl diving and trading centre. We continue our journey by Abra – local water taxi. As we cross the Creek we see the modern metropolis with its splendid architecture dwarfing the bustling alleys of our next destination, the gold and spice souks. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Dubai. (B)
Mon Mar 10: Abu Dhabi
Early breakfast and then proceed to Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates. In this city of dramatic contrasts, we visit the ancient, but now renovated Al Husn Fort, the Abu Dhabi Corniche with its fascinating fountains. Next we visit the Heritage village on the breakwater, from where we get a spectacular skyline view of the city of Abu Dhabi. Afterwards we return to Dubai for overnight. (B)
Tues Mar 11: Sunset Desert Safari
Today is free to explore on your own until late afternoon when we will be picked up by our 4×4 vehicles and head to the desert for some dune bashing. We will stop to see the sunset over the dunes then continue to a desert camp for BBQ dinner and entertainment. Return to Dubai for overnight. (B/D)
Weds Mar 12: Dubai – Khasab
After breakfast we will check out and be picked up by our Omani bus transfer to Khasab on the Musandam Peninsula of Oman. After clearing the border we will drive to Khasab and check in to the hotel. In the afternoon we will show you the capital of Musandam, Khasab a fishing town and oasis, with a population of approximately 18,000. Khasab is located at the Strait of Hormuz and overlooking the Gulf of Arabia. Visit the restored Fort of Khasab; built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Today the fort has a museum where some Omani handicraft items are displayed. Drive through thee town of Khasab with its old and new souq. At the end of our tour you will visit Wadi Qadah with thee old village Tawi. At the end of the deep b bay you can see prehistoric rock carvings depicting camels, ships and warriors, said to be more than 2000 years old. Overnight in Golden Tulip Khasab Hotel. (B)
Thurs Mar 13: Musandam
After breakfast, we embark on a full day cruise in a traditional Omani Dhow (boat). The cruise will take us toward Musandam’s longest and most spectacular fjord, which is often referred to as the ‘Norway of Arabia’. It’s calm, turquoise waters contrast with the creamy white limestone cliffs. Along the way you will pass small fishing villages and perhaps even encounter dolphins. The dhow will anchor in the vicinity off Telegraph Island, allowing you to take a swim or just sit back and enjoy soft drinks, tea or coffee while admiring breathtaking views of mountains rising in the distance to over 2,000 feet. Then leaving the anchorage, continue our tour with lunch provided on board and another stop f for swimming and snorkeling. After the tour we have a leisurely cruise back to Khasab. Overnight at the Golden Tulip Khasab Hotel.
Fri mar 14: Musandam – Muscat
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and we transfer you to Khasab International airport for your departure flight (WY 522 @ 11:30 hrs) to Muscat. We will be met and assisted at the Muscat International Airport and transfer to our hotel, the Shangri La Al Waha. Spend the rest of the day at leisure or at your own activities.
Sat Mar 15: Mystic Muscat
After breakfast, we will take you to Azaiba, where you will find the Grand Mosque, standing in stately grandeur. A visit to this beautiful piece of architecture is a must to all tourists. (Open to visitors every day from 0900 to 1100 hrs except on Fridays – Dress code: Ladies should wear attires that cover their arms and legs and wear a scarf to cover their heads. Gentlemen should wear normal shirts and trousers) From here we will take you into the heart of a world that has not changed in generations. There is the bustling fish and vegetable souq where you can see the latest catch of fish and fresh vegetables & fruits from the farms. Capture the spirit of a bygone era. We will see the old city of Muscat and catch a glimpse of the old town through the eyes of bygone travelers who left their marks and images, collected and on display at the fine galleries and museums (Bait Al Zubair) in the heart of the Old Quarter. We take a photo stop at the Sultan’s Palace flanked by the 16th Century Portuguese forts of Jalali and Mirani. Return to the hotel in the afternoon (around 13:30 hrs) and relax. The rest of the day is free. Overnight at the Shangri La. (B)
Sun Mar 16: Forts & hot springs – Off road adventure
0800hrs: – Check out from the hotel after breakfast and continue the drive to Nizwa while exploring the mountains of Oman. Stop at the Nakhl fort, spectacularly perched on a rocky prominence of the Western Hajar. From here, drive to Wadi Bani Awf, one of the most spectacular wadis in the country and a perennial favorite. As you drive into the wadi, after 1km, a deviation to the right will bring you to an impressive gorge, ‘The Snake Canyon’. The mark of the Snake Canyon begins with polished and rounded marble rock. The first half kilometers is fun hiking in a narrow section of the canyon. From here, we drive further to the charming village of Bilad Sayt. The first view of the town will come after you emerge from an improbable canyon cleft. It is like discovering a lost city, or seeing Petra for the first time. Picnic lunch in a camping spot. After lunch, we drive further on via Sharf Al Alamayn, one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the Hajar Mountains. The sudden drop makes a beautiful photographic moment. Drive back to Nizwa and check in at the Falaj Daris Hotel for overnight. (B/L)
Mon Mar 17: Mighty Forts – Grand Canyon of Oman
After breakfast, proceed to Bahla, one of the oldest recorded civilizations in Oman. Artifacts found here date back to 3rd Millennium BC. There is the enormous Bahla fort here, which has earned a place in the UNESCO’s world heritage list of monuments. Today, Bahla is the pottery capital of Oman. We move on to Jabrin where we visit the famous fortress at Jabrin. The fort contains a maze of rooms with painted ceilings, impressive towers, courtyards, dungeons, secret passages, false floors, hidden corners, tunnels and escape routes. Then we move towards the mountains. First stop is at the old village of Ghul to see the abandoned Persian village. Wadi Nakhr is the bed that comes out of a canyon alongside the village. This is the start of the Wadi Nakhr Gorge and it winds for several kilometers into the jebels to become the Grand Canyon of Oman.
We drive on to near Jebel Shams, the tallest peak in Oman at 10, 000 feet. From the rim of the canyon you can see the village of Nakhr about 2 kilometers straight down. Picnic Lunch near the rim. You will come across the Shuwawis (mountain people) hawking their blankets and carpets. On our return, visit Misfat Al Abrein, a picturesque village strapped on to the side of a mountain. As you walk around this beautiful village where time has come to a standstill, you will be moved by the simplicity and friendliness of the people. Return to Nizwa and overnight at the Falaj Daris Hotel. (B/L)
Tues Mar 18: Old capital – Golden Sands of Wahiba
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and take a stroll in down town. The town is still a bustling centre for crafts and the silver souq is the best in Oman. Feel free to mingle with the crowd and let the Omani ambience take hold of you. Then visit the big round fort of the Al Yaruba dynasty. The Fort, which took 12 years to built, is famed for its 40m-tall round tower. It is worth climbing to the top of the tower to see the date plantation encircling the town and the view of the Hajar mountains. Continue the drive further to the east in search of the golden sands of the Wahiba Desert. Drive via Ibra and visit the old abandoned mercantile village of Al Mansfah, which is worth examining. Much of the charm and character of this old village, which had known its heydays hundreds of years ago, has not washed away. Continue the drive to the Wahiba desert. Indulge in some thrilling dune bashing (not for the faint hearted). Drive up to a high dune and enjoy the sunset before you reach the desert camp, where a barbeque dinner and rest awaits you. Dinner and overnight in Safari Desert Camp. (B/D)
Weds Mar 19: Enchanting Wadi Bani Khalid
Wake up with the desert sunrise. After breakfast, check out from the camp and pay a visit to a “Bedouin” (local) house for an insight of their harsh life style. Experience the warm Omani hospitality with dates and “Khawa” (Arabic coffee). We will then drive to Ibra and visit the Women’s Market, then take you to the enchanting Wadi Bani Khalid, one of the most scenic wadis of Oman. We drive past the village with its endless date plantations. Reach the magnificent Wadi. The pools are cool, deep and absolutely stunning. Feel free to plunge in and experience the crystal clear waters. From here, proceed to Bilad Bani Bu Ali. This town is overflowing with buildings, forts and mosques from bygone times. The main feature is the “Jami Al Hamoda Mosque” built in the 11th century A.H (After Hijrah). The mosque has 52 domes supported on a network of pillars. Continue the drive to Ras Al Hadd. Check in at Ras Al Hadd Beach Resort and relax. After dinner, we head down to the beach to observe the nesting habits of green turtles that swim the length and breadth of the Indian Ocean. Dinner and overnight in Ras Al Hadd Beach Hotel. (B/D)
Thurs Mar 20: Sur – Coastal Delight – Muscat
After breakfast, check-out from the hotel and continue the drive to Sur, the old African port. Legend has is that this was the village of the world famous “Sinbad, the sailor”. Drive past “Ayjah Village” for an overview of the rich Omani architecture. From here start your journey towards the coastal road. First stop is at “Qalhat” where you will find the Tomb of Bibi Miriam, the only building left standing after the town was razed by the Portuguese in 1503. Then drive to Wadi Tiwi. The track winds and bumps past dwellings and through date plantations. This is a nice journey through this peaceful and fertile area, where palms reach to the sky and Bananas grow in profusion. The water from the mountains flows through sparkling pools and tiny waterfalls. A wide variety if native plants thrive, including tall grass and bushes, wildflowers and ubiquitous pink oleander. Tiwi is known as “the Gorge of nine Villages”. The road ends at the village of Mibam at about 36km which takes about an hour to reach. We find a good perfect picnic place and have picnic lunch. After lunch continue the drive to “Fins Beach”, the white sandy beach. Enjoy a short walk on the beach while the warm sea water moistures your feet. Next stop is the “Bimah sinkhole”, a geological formation of the karst topography and a scenic wonder, before we pass through some spectacular mountain scenery up the coast as we make our way back to Muscat. Check in at the hotel and relax. Overnight at the Shangrila Al Waha hotel (Superior room). (B/L)
Fri Mar 21: Departure
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and transfer to Muscat International airport for your departure flight. (B)
- Accommodation in hotels / camp as mentioned in the itinerary on double/twin sharing basis
- Private transfer from Dubai, UAE to Musandam by mini van or in a mini coach depending upon the number of passengers
- Tour arrangements as described in the above itinerary
- Domestic air ticket from Khasab to Muscat (KHS-MCT) in Economy class
- Airport transfers in a saloon car / mini bus or in a mini coach depending upon the number or people
- Guided tours in an air conditioned Mini bus / coach or in AC 4WD vehicles as mentioned in the itinerary
- Meals as shown in the itinerary
- Entrance fees to sights listed on itinerary, including the ticket to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa
- Services of English speaking guides throughout the tour
- Mineral water and soft drinks during the tours
- International airfare
- Visa charges
- Optional Activities (camel rides, spa services, etc.)
- Expenses of any personal nature
- Meals not listed, beverages, snacks
- Any activities or services which are not listed in the “included” sector
- Tips for guides, drivers, restaurants
- Travel insurance