There are no campsites as such in Oman, but wild camping is legal, meaning that you can pitch your tent pretty much anywhere away from houses. Since hotels are very expensive, this will save you loads of money. But knowing that you can camp anywhere doesn’t mean you’ll want to. Here are some amazing camping spots in North Oman that we made use of during our trip, along with driving directions.
Sharfat Al Alamein
Also spelled Shorfet Alalamin and lots of other different ways, this gorgeous mountain locations is right at the start of the hiking trail number 10h, going across the mountains. To get here, you drive from Al Hamra or Tanuf, depending on which way you’re coming, and Bilad Sayt is signposted on brown signs near Al Hoota cave. From there, the road is paved all the way up to the highest point of the mountain, which incidentally is where you’re going. You can get there in a 2WD, but you’ll probably have to park it by the road and walk a little bit to where you’re camping.
Up here, you have several alternatives. The most scenic ones, which require a little bit of off road driving, are located very near the end of the paved road. Take the turnoff to the Shorfet Alalamin hotel and continue past it. There is a camping spot very close to the hotel, but there are also some better ones if you continue for a bit. With a good car you can drive all the way. Quite a bit of trash left behind told us that this is a popular location. Another alternative, which we went for the first night as it was already getting dark, is the viewpoints by the road up. Almost at the top there are two really nice viewpoints. We parked the car by the viewpoint and went a little bit down to get away from the road.
We had cell phone reception and that spot is easily reached in a 2WD, but in retrospect we probably should’ve gone with the ones further up.
Jebel Shams camping spots
We spent two nights in two different locations at Jebel Shams, and this is really the best location I’ve ever camped. To get to the camping spots you go to the end of the paved road at Jebel Shams Resort and continue on the sand road that goes beyond it. There are also a couple of gravel roads, but stick with the sandiest. If you’re not sure, just wait for a bit and see which one has traffic. The drive from there is very short, just a few hundred meters, and you’ll get to the canyon rim. The first spot is at a dead end viewpoint, where you can camp between some big rocks. This ensures that no one else pitches their tent right next to yours, and it also provides some shelter from the wind. This is where we slept the first night on the mountain.
The second spot is at the next turnoff, just below the viewpoint and rocks. At this one you’ll be sleeping on a flat rock, so it’s a bit harder than the dirt just above. This spot seemed to be used by groups as it’s a large area where five or more tents can be pitched together. You can walk all the way out to the edge here.
The third spot is at the next turnoff, a location that really only holds one car and one tent. This ensures a bit of privacy, but you’ll also be really close to the road.
The fourth spot is one more turnoff away, at a small road that ends by a tree. At this location a few cars and tents will fit, but we were lucky to be left alone on our second night on the mountain. Some areas are cleared already for tents, so you can just pick your favorite. You’ll be sleeping really close to the rim, but a bit away from the road.
At night you’ll see the lights from all of the other tents along the rim, but you’ll have enough distance that it doesn’t feel crowded. We also saw some people camping by the viewpoint along the paved road where some locals are selling bracelets from a makeshift stand, but I wouldn’t recommend that. The traffic out there is pretty heavy and you’ll be sleeping close to the road. Plus the goats are relentless there.
We felt really insecure about driving in the desert, so we stayed in an organized camp out there, called Desert Retreat Camp. They met us at a gas station in Al Wasil and guided us to the camp, and we also got a chance to shower and eat a meal that someone else had cooked out there. We were also hit by a bad sand storm in the evening, and I would’ve been scared in our little tent.
All in all enjoyable, but on the way back we did see some good spots for wild camping. You get into the desert by driving southwest from Al Wasil, past the little fort following the signs pointing toward the various desert camps. Continue on the paved road for quite a bit until it ends abruptly, then drive on the sand. There is no cell phone reception out here, so don’t go deep into the desert and make sure you don’t get stuck or lost late in the afternoon as it gets dark very fast.
Qalhat was our first stop on the coast, where we really learned how warm it can get. We stripped the tent of its outer layer and slept without sleeping bags down here. The camping spot was by the sea, but not by the beach. To get here, you exit the highway between Sur and Muscat at Qalhat, drive down toward the sea toward the beach, then turn left past some weird fenced in things. Drive along the highway for a little bit on the gravel road, and then there will be a clearing by the cliffs. We heard traffic and saw the lights from the highway all night, but it was still okay. Not the best camping spot, but we’d really been spoilt on this trip.
Beach between Fins and Tiwi
We’d heard of the White Beach in Fins and decided to go and check it out. To get there, you exit the highway at Fins, but just before you enter the village, turn right and follow a road along the sea that’s paved in the beginning but soon turns to gravel. The satellite view of your Google maps will really help here. After a while you’ll get to White Beach, which you can also search for on Google maps.
We weren’t that impressed though, and expected groups to get there as the weekend was approaching, so we kept on driving for a little bit longer. A very short distance south of White Beach we found some amazing little beaches with great campsites right next to them. The one we picked was at the turnoff to the left just where there is also a turnoff to the right that goes to a small, square building. I loved being able to go down and swim first thing in the morning!
As Sifah beach
Our last stop was near Muscat, in a beach town called As Sifah. This was a bit tricky, as the sandy beach in town seemed full of people already, and some massive hotel has blocked off most of the town. We did in the end find a really nice rocky beach with several great campsites, where we were all by ourselves.
To get there, drive past As Sifah as far south as you can get on the new, paved road. It ends abruptly and turns around, and just after the turn you’ll find a gravel road going down toward the beach. The beach is covered with round rocks, not sharp, but still not your typical paradise beach.