Under the Desert Sky: Wild Camping in Oman

“Said Jabbel Haliya Wahabi is a Bedu man who, like his father, and father’s father, lives in the Wahiba Sands. He had a head full of tales and when sitting in his presence you absorbed his calm and wise demeanor.” – Eddie Wrey
“Said Jabbel Haliya Wahabi is a Bedu man who, like his father, and father’s father, lives in the Wahiba Sands. He had a head full of tales and when sitting in his presence you absorbed his calm and wise demeanor.” – Eddie Wrey | © Eddie Wrey / Culture Trip
James McLachlan

Deputy editorial director

Minarets, mountains and markets: photographer Eddie Wrey captures the quiet majesty of Oman’s landscapes on a camping journey through the dunes with the Bedu.

“The camp was hard to find in the sandy void of the Empty Quarter, but eventually the majlis [traditional Bedouin tent] appeared like an apparition before us.”

“This is the view over the palm grove at Birkat Al Mouz (Pool of the Bananas). The perfect house nestled into the grove made the frame feel cartoon-like… I had also wanted to photograph the Nizwa minaret through the fort parapets. The minaret was lit by the mosque’s uplighting and I was satisfied that my camera was in place. I sat back and listened as the croaky muezzin geared up for a morning cry.”

“Here you can see the dishdasha, which is the white floor-length cotton robe. On his head is the ubiquitous kumma. I could never quite work out the art of the perfect kumma. Each new friendly Omani man would helpfully snatch my kumma off my head and proceed to fiddle and pinch the rim of the hat in inexplicable places before smilingly returning it to me with a nod of proud finality.”

“The framed doorways of Nizwa Fort cast shadowy scenes as characters weaved about their business… Shepherds and traders from all over the land filtered in [to Nizwa’s cattle market] with their animals and [reserved] their spaces at the ring. Greetings, prayers and bleating animals brought the energy to a simmer. It grew into a full boil as hooves stomped everywhere; haunches and hides were grabbed and tugged.”

“I never worked out what this castle [on the road from Wahiba to Birkat al Mouz] was, but it felt interesting at the time. The odd scale combined with the soft-pink tone and fluffy heart-shaped cloud makes it feel like a fairytale… Dates seemed to be a national treasure with a huge range in quality. Our host had a very efficient way of removing the stone by squishing the date in his fingers and prising out the pip.”

“I love the harmony of tone and shape between the camel and its environment. The hump perfectly mimics the rolling desert dunes and the caramel hair melds into the golden sands… Imagining a safari of thirsty desert travellers of a bygone era discovering [Wadi Ash Shab’s] crystal oasis of waterfalls and caves made it even more spectacular.”
Eddie Wrey was a guest of Hud Hud Travels. With special thanks to Taimur Al-Said.
This story appears in Issue 6 of Culture Trip magazine: The Sustainability Issue.

If you’re ready for your own wild adventure, check out guide on how to plan the perfect camping trip in Oman.

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