Oman is a beautiful country in the Middle East that has yet to be discovered by tourists. I spent 2 weeks in Oman and can say from experience: Oman is absolutely stunning!
While road tripping around Oman, you will have most of the beautiful places in Oman for yourself! What’s more, freedom camping in Oman is allowed, making it a perfect country for outdoor enthusiasts.
In this post, you can read all about finding camp spots in Oman, Oman camping tips, and where to buy camping gear in Oman.
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Camping in Oman
Misconceptions about Oman
I don’t know why there are not more people visiting Oman, it’s such a beautiful country! Perhaps because there are several misconceptions about the country. Let’s get these out of the way first before diving into the nitty-gritty details about the Oman campsites we visited.
Misconception #1: Oman is just one big desert
WRONG! Oman has mountains, beaches, wadis, and a lot of cultural heritage. I spent 2 weeks exploring the country with a 4×4 Nissan Xterra from Mark Tours. and every day I came across another beautiful place or an amazing view.
Misconception #2: Oman is not safe
WRONG! Oman is very safe and people are so helpful and nice. We got offered a ride to our hotel twice, were invited for traditional Omani tea and dates, guided to a beautiful hidden pool by a local and cheerfully greeted wherever we went.
The fisherman in the photo above insisted I took his picture and kept talking to us in Arabic. I wish a spoke a few words, that would have been really nice!
Misconception #3: Oman is too expensive
What’s also holding people back is that Oman is not a cheap country to travel. However, a very easy way to cut the costs is to go camping! You can read all about our Oman travel budget in this post.
Wild camping in Oman
Wild camping is perfectly legal in Oman, you can basically pitch your tent anywhere. Almost anywhere, there are some exceptions.
Where not to camp in Oman
Naturally, camping in natural reserves is not allowed, especially the green turtle reserve in Ras Al Jinz is off-limits. Furthermore, don’t camp near villages or in wadi beds because of the risk of flash floods.
Other than that there are no restrictions to where you can camp in Oman! We camped at the beach, in the mountains, and in the desert. More often than not, we were the only ones there.
Responsible wild camping
Make sure to adhere to the Leave No Trace principles. That means taking proper care of (human) waste, leave anything you find, minimize campfire impacts, and respect any wildlife you may encounter.
Lack of camping facilities in Oman
Free camping in Oman is great, however, there are no official campsites with showers and toilet facilities. That’s why we stayed at a hotel after two or three nights of camping, to clean ourselves up.
In total we spent 19 nights in Oman, we camped for 11 nights and stayed at hotels for 8 nights.
Dangerous animals in Oman
Snakes and scorpions
While we luckily didn’t see any scorpions or snakes during our Oman camping trip, that doesn’t mean they are not there. Snakes and scorpions most certainly live in Oman, so keep this in mind when planning a camping trip to Oman.
We always checked our gear after a night of camping to make sure no creepy crawlers were hiding in our packs or clothes. This is especially important in the desert!
Also, be sure not to put your hand under your tent when packing up as scorpions like to hang here (because of the cooler sand below the tent).
There are wolves in Oman though we never came across one not did we ever hear one howling. Wolves are naturally shy and tend to stay away from humans.
However, if against all odds you do find yourself face to face with a wolf in Oman this is what to do: maintain eye contact, make yourself look large, and make loud, intimidating noises.
Get to a safe place (for example in your car) as soon as you can. Read more about how to deal with a wolf encounter here.
Where to find camping gear in Oman
Lulu hypermarket in Muscat
As we were traveling for a year, we didn’t bring any of our own camp gear from home (except for our awesome air mattresses).
After arriving in Oman, we bought the camping gear we needed at Lulu hypermarket. We purchased:
- A budget tent for 12.9 OR (€30/$34)
- 2 sleeping bags for 8.9OR each (€21/$23 per sleeping bag)
- Hard plastic cups for 1 OR (€2,35/$2,60)
- 2 spoons for 1OR (€2,35/$2,60)
The Sultan Cente in Oman
At The Sultan Center we bought:
- A very compact portable camping stove for 10OR (€23,50/$26). You can buy this super small stove online as well, we use it all the time on camping trips!
- Small gas bottle for 2OR (€4,70/$5,20)
- Small pan for 2OR (€4,70/$5,20). We used this to boil hot water and make tea, coffee, porridge, and noodle soup. Very convenient when you are camping in the middle of nowhere and also another good way to cut the costs!
How to find campsites in Oman
As I said, wild camping is legal in Oman and as long as you keep your distance from villages and other inhabited places you can stay anywhere.
Don’t count on any facilities though, there are no official campsites in Oman with showers, power and the usual. It’s just you, your tent and the view.
That being said, we never really had a problem finding a good spot. A combination of using the Maps.Me app, a really useful off-road guidebook with several good campsite suggestions) and keeping our eyes open ensured we found a nice place to stay every day.
Oman camping spots: map
In the map you can find the location of the campsites we stayed at during our trip around Oman. Again, I say campsites but more accurate is ‘places we pitched our tent’ as there are no official campsites with facilities in Oman.
Below you can also download a list of Oman campsites. I put them into 2 categories: reachable with a 2 wheel drive car and only reachable with a 4×4.
11 free campsites in Oman
1. Campsite Wadi al Khawd
I wouldn’t recommend to stay here if you can avoid it, but because our camp gear shopping took a lot longer than expected it was already dark and we didn’t have another option. Why not recommended?
1. It’s close to a wadi (danger of flash floods).
2. It’s next to a busy road with trucks.
3. There were dogs barking the entire night.
4. It’s very dusty.
The only plus is you can reach the spot with a regular car, so even if you don’t have a 4×4 you can camp here.
2. Campsite Wadi Sahtan
This campsite was everything the previous one was not:
- We had an amazing view over the valley and of the Jebel mountains.
- The site was next to a small dirt road to a tiny village, 3 cars passed in total during our stay at this pretty camp spot in Oman.
- It was completely and utterly quiet at night.
The only downside was that it was raining slightly when we arrived here. So we decided not to pitch our tent but sleep in our car instead. There is a small coffee shop in Amq, we got dinner and brushed our teeth there. This camp spot can only be reached with a 4wd.
3. Campsite/Picnic area near Al Hoota Cave
Next to a road but not a very busy one. It’s also a picnic place and there is a small coffee shop (which is convenient for dinner/breakfast/brushing your teeth). It wasn’t the most scenic campsite we stayed at but perfectly fine for the night.
We parked a little uphill so we weren’t too close to the wadi. The campsite is easily reachable with a regular car.
4. Campsite Wadi Damm
This was my favorite campsite in Oman! Located at the end of the dirt road leading up to Wadi Damm we found a large flat camping area. The sky was clear, the moon was full and we felt like we were on the edge of the earth.
We were the only ones on the campsite, just like we been on the 3 previous ones. Not a single car passed during the time we were there.
The next morning, we hiked up a trail behind the campsite (in the direction of Misfah) and found a perfect little pool for a swim. A wonderful place to camp, but only reachable with 4×4.
5. Jebel Akhdar camping
This was the first campsite where there were more people camping (1 other car!). There are actually two campsites here, we drove to the second one because it’s a little further from the main road (not that it’s a busy road but if you have a choice?).
We found a nice spot, behind a small hill and next to a tree. Keep in mind that it is much colder at the Jebel Akhdar plateau! The campsite is at 2300 meters and the next morning we woke up with ice on our sleeping bags!
I’m not kidding you… We were happy we packed our thermal underwear, just our sleeping bags wouldn’t have been warm enough.
The camping is only reachable with a 4WD. In fact, the entire Jebel Al Akhdar area is, you have to pass a police checkpoint at the start of the road up to the plateau. In the past there have been many accidents with failing brakes on 2wd cars, that’s why they made the road only accessible for 4×4 cars.
6. Sharqiya Desert Camp site (near Mintirib)
From the mountains, we went to the desert and pitched our tent in the sand (securing it with heavy rocks). We camped close to the gravel road, but I think maybe five cars passed during the time we camped there, so not a big deal. I wouldn’t drive here without a 4×4 but I read online that some people did.
7. Seaside campsite near Qalhat
It was already late when we started searching for a campsite and we were happy to find a small dirt road leading from the highway to the sea. There was already a car parked with a small tent next to it and we drove a little further down the track and set up camp.
Waking up to the sunrise over the ocean was great, unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture. Reachable with a regular 2wd car (if you drive slowly).
8. Campsite Wadi Tayin near Tool
A nice place at the foot of the Eastern Hajar Mountains, near the village of Tool in Wadi Tayin. We parked on a hill overlooking the wadi and next to a small football field.
We had a great sunset view and it was far enough from the road to not hear the cars. The ground is solid rock so pegging the tent didn’t work. We secured the tent with rocks instead.
This site is only reachable with 4×4 (we had to cross a small stream to get there). One major downside: there were a lot of mosquitoes!
9. Campsite near Finns (Noora Camp Plateau)
Another excellent spot for beach camping, Oman has quite a few of these picturesque little beaches! The campsite is close to the highway but not right next to it so we didn’t hear the cars, only the rushing ocean.
We drove to Tiwi the next morning where you can find several coffee shops (nice for breakfast and coffee). At the start of Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi, there are public toilets. Reachable with a 2wd if you drive carefully.
10. Campsite near Bimmah sinkhole
Seaside campsite next to the coast road to Bimmah Sinkhole (also called Dabab sinkhole), a good spot for the night. A big plus is the proximity to the Sinkhole park which has a public toilet. Reachable with a regular 2wd car.
11. As Sifah Beach camping
Our last campsite and a great spot. From our tent we were looking over the ocean on one side and to beautiful mountains on the other. The added bonus was the sensational sunset (sorry, forgot to take a picture). The dirt road to the beach is quite bumpy so I don’t recommend going here without a 4WD.
5 excellent hotels in Oman
As mentioned above, there are no official campsites with camping facilities in Oman. So after two or three days without a shower, we usually headed a hotel, to clean ourselves up.
In Oman, hotel rates vary throughout the year. During high season, from November until the end of March, hotel prices are (considerably) higher than during the low (because scorching hot) season, which runs from April until October.
Muscat, Mutrah Hotel – 2 nights
Mutrah Hotel is a nice budget hotel in Muscat. Our room was very big, the bathroom was clean and had a good shower. The room had to air-condition, a luxury after a month in Sri Lanka where we had mostly rooms with a fan. The staff was very nice and helped us get to activate our SIM card.
Breakfast was not included, but there was a very nice place across the street called Golden City Light where they served delicious dosas, curries, and fresh fruit juice.
We walked from Ruwi bus station to the hotel in 30 minutes. It takes approximately 20-25 minutes to walk from the Mutrah hotel to the Mutrah Souk.
This hotel offers good value for money, we only paid €51 per night.
Bahla, Bahla Hotel Apartments – 1 night
Bahla Hotel Apartments was a pleasant surprise, the staff gave us a warm welcome and we got a nice room with a small balcony. There was a clean and warm shower, it felt so good to be clean again after a couple of dusty and sweaty nights in our tent.
Don’t get me wrong, I love camping, but I also like to clean up every couple of days;-).
Breakfast was included and I particularly liked the vegetable omelet and the (very fat but very yummy) labneh. Wi-Fi didn’t work in our room but it worked okayish in the reception area and the restaurant.
On the corner next to the hotel is a small laundry shop, our laundry took 1 day and we paid 200baisa per item. Altogether the hotel provides excellent value for money, we paid €45 for a night.
Sur, Al Ayjah Plaza Hotel – 1 night
Having spent a couple of days camping in the mountains and the sandy desert it was time for another shower. At Al Ayjah Plaza hotel we were warmly received by the receptionist and given a large room with a soft and comfortable bed.
Our room had a balcony and great view over the bay. The bathroom was very large too! Coffee, tea, water, and toiletries were provided. There were several WiFi networks throughout the hotel, I could always find one that worked.
Behind the hotel is a small hill with an old watchtower on top. We climbed this just before sunset and had a beautiful view over Al Ayjah and Sur. A standard room at the Al Ayjah Plaza Hotel costs €50 per night.
Sharqiya Sands, the Desert Night Camp – 1 night
This is the most luxurious desert camp Oman has to offer and the fanciest tent I have stayed at in my life! After driving 10 kilometers through the desert over a sandy road, we arrived at the beautiful Desert Night Camp surrounded by tall sand dunes.
Upon arrival, we received a cold refreshment towel and traditional Omani Karak with dates. We were then shown to our stylish and air-conditioned tent.
The bed was super soft, the bathroom very classy and I loved our porch with comfy green beanbags and beautiful door! There was coffee, tea, and water in the room and plenty of toiletries in the bathroom.
In the evening we were driven up the steep sand dunes next to the camp and watched the sunset, a magical experience…
After the beautiful sunset, it was time for the dinner buffet. I tried a little of everything (well, almost everything, there was so much to choose from!) and if I have to pick one favorites dish it was the Umm Ali, Omani style bread pudding, very yummy.
The breakfast buffet was extensive too and I particularly liked the creamy hummus (I could eat buckets of hummus, so good!).
A night at the Desert Night Camp isn’t cheap, but it’s worth the money as it’s a once in a lifetime experience. Prices start at €155 per night (dinner and breakfast for 2 people included).
Sohar, Radisson Blu – 3 nights
An amazing hotel, we had the best time! I am not even ashamed to say we didn’t leave the hotel during the 3 days we were there. I spent my days relaxing by the pool, chatting on FaceTime with my family and trying to catch up with the blog. Oh and eating… we ate a lot!
The breakfast buffet excellent: from French pastries to Indian curries and from prepared-to-order-eggs to my favorite station: CHEESE! Big blocks of soft brie, chunks of silky soft goats cheese, grilled halloumi, feta, and several other kinds of cheese…
I had to seriously restrain myself from not eating only cheese. But that would have been a shame because I also wanted to try to the Oreo milkshake, the muesli, and the banana bread. And that was only breakfast…
For lunch, we had Italian, gnocchi with cheese sauce (I know, addicted much) and lasagna. And as if that wasn’t enough we had Thai for dinner at the beautiful Amaranthai restaurant.
All the Thai dishes were delicious, if I had to pick a favorite it would be the chicken satay and creamy Tom Kha Kai soup. Okay, enough about food.
What made our stay even better was the friendly staff, we felt really welcome and had a great time chatting with several members of the very international staff (Morocco, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and more).
Our room was great, nice view over the sea and the bed was absolutely divine, it was like sleeping on clouds. Camping is great, but nothing beats a comfy bed!
The rain shower and bathtub washed away the last camping dust and after 3 relaxing days, we were as good as new and ready for our next adventure: hiking to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal! Prices at this 5-star property start at €100 per night.
Oman camping: in conclusion
That’s it, my guide to camping Oman! I found camping and staying at hotels the perfect combination, the freedom of camping in the middle of nowhere and the comfort of a soft bed and a shower in the hotels.
Enjoy your trip to Oman and let me know if you have any questions!
Read how to travel from Dubai to Muscat via the Hatta border by bus in this post.
This post was updated in September 2020.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Mark Tours Oman, Al Ayjeh Plaza Hotel, Desert Night Camp and Radisson Blu Sohar. Nevertheless, all pictures and opinions are my own.