There’s something different about waking up to a cool desert morning. Unlike the genuine cold of a Viennese Christmas Market, which bites at your throat and chews your fingers, early risers in our desert camp experience a more invigorating chill. It’s almost as if the cold focuses the mind on the significance of every moment.
Breakfast includes some traditional fruits from the Arabian peninsula, and before we’ve even offered to help with the washing up and taking down the tents we’re ushered back into our 4WDs.
People have lived in the Wahiba region for almost 8,000 years, and while modernity gives opportunities to the next generation, it’s a shame to note that most of the camel trains we pass are ridden by tourists as the locals embrace the air-conditioned benefits of a new 4WD.
Mid morning we stop to visit a Bedouin house in the desert, an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the proud tribespeople who embrace both their bedouin traditions and the emerging Omani national identity. Livestock remain the key economy here, mostly goats and camels. While tourism is increasingly important, we get the feeling that the clean house and well-dressed, well-spoken people we meet are nothing new – they may be surrounded by 12,500 square kms (4,800 sq mi) of desert, but that’s no excuse for a mess.
We arrive back in Muscat by mid-afternoon. There’s plenty of time before our flight to take in more sights and sounds of this city – but it’s the smell we are interested in. More specifically, the smell of the Amouage Perfume Factory. Feted as ‘The Most Valuable Perfume in the World’, Amouage Gold for Women is created from the resin of the frankincense tree and the essence of the rare Omani Rock Rose, plus another 120 ingredients including Myrrh.
That’s right – Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. If you’re looking for an excuse to treat yourself this Christmas time, look no more.
Want to Go? Need to Know…
- A single entry, one month visa for Oman can be purchased for 20 OMR (about $USD50) at the airport
- December temperatures in the desert are reasonably mild, but the summer heat and the late winter evenings are especially dangerous
- Even experienced desert drivers and hikers are reminded to take precautions with water rations and recording your planned itinerary with your consulate and/or hotel in case of accident
- You do not need to book in advance to visit the Amouage Factory
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Share your Oman thoughts or desert experiences in the comments below.