Traveling the Sands of Time: Oman to Dubai

  • Trip Type: Land
  • 10 Days | Muscat to Dubai
  • Group Size: Max 25

Expedition Details


Discover the ancient roots of Arabia in Oman, a country where Bedouin culture blends with the vibrant legacy of Indian Ocean trade routes. Delve into spice bazaars, explore wild canyons and desert oases, and learn about Oman’s unique form of Islam. Then cross the sands to glitzy Dubai, taking a wildlife safari in the dunes and visiting conservation projects along the way.

Trip Highlights

    • Visit sites excavated by National Geographic grantees: the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bat, the fishing village of Qantab, and the rock art of Tanuf.
    • Explore two of the Middle East’s most magnificent mosques and learn about Oman’s moderate Islamic sect.
    • Discover ancient, fortified oasis towns in the sands of the Arabian Peninsula.
    • In Dubai, ride to the top of the world’s tallest building for views across the Persian Gulf.

Itinerary - 10 Days

Day 1 — Muscat, Oman

Arrive in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, and check in to our hotel.
Al Bustan Palace

Day 2 — Muscat/Quantab

Learn about Ibadism, Oman’s main Islamic sect, at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Visit the Oman Botanic Garden and take in views of Al Alam Palace. Wander through the Muttrah Souk, an Arabian bazaar. In the village of Qantab, see the boatyard featured in National Geographic’s documentary Sailing the Treasure Ship, and meet with archaeologists.

Day 3 — Wadi Shab

Explore the natural wonders of Oman: visit the Bimmah sinkhole, hike through cliff-walled canyons, and take a swim at Wadi Shab; or take a scenic drive.

Day 4 — Birkat Al Mawz/Jabal Al Akhdar

Travel inland to the palm tree oasis of Birkat al Mawz and walk through a traditional falaj irrigation field. This type of irrigation system has been in use here for some 1,500 years and was recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Visit the 17th-century fortress and museum in Nizwa, and uncover the mysteries of Jabal al Akhdar, a mountain range named for its lush green terraced fields. Set out by 4x4 to visit the abandoned mud-brick village of Tanuf. Then travel up to the lovely mountaintop village of Misfat al Abreyeen, where we’ll meet with local farmers and enjoy a traditional home-cooked Omani meal.
Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Bahla/Bat/Al Ain

Explore Oman’s largest fortress, Bahla Fort, then head to the Al Ayn tombs and the prehistoric settlements, towers, and tombs of Bat. Learn about the Bat Archaeological Project, co-directed by National Geographic archaeologist Christopher Thornton and supported by the Society. This afternoon, cross the border into the United Arab Emirates and stay in the gateway city of Al Ain.
Hili Rayhaan By Rotana (B,L,D)

Days 6 & 7 — Al Ain, United Arab Emirates/Al Maha Desert Resort

Visit the Al Ain National Museum and discuss regional development with a local expert. Continue to the Al Maha Desert Resort, located inside the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve—home to desert species including a few hundred rare Arabian oryxes. Take an evening 4x4 safari. Rise early for a falconry demonstration and a guided walk. Then choose between several exploration options.
Al Maha Desert Resort (B,L,D daily)

Day 8 — Dubai

Travel to Dubai and wander through the narrow lanes of the historic Bastakiya quarter, founded by merchants in the 19th century. Head to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and enjoy free time this afternoon to shop, or swim in the sea.
Ritz-Carlton Dubai (B,L)

Days 9 & 10 — Abu Dhabi/Dubai

This morning, set out on an excursion to the capital city of Abu Dhabi. Enjoy lunch aboard a traditional dhow boat and meet a conservationist to discuss coral reef studies funded by National Geographic. Later, visit the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This evening, return to Dubai and enjoy a festive farewell dinner. Transfer to the airport the next morning for your return flight.

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