Oman offers a real taste of Arabia in a safe and friendly environment. The combination of superb desert wildlife and scenery, a rich and accessible marine biome, and all the time fabulous light for photography ensure that you won’t miss February back at home! The biogeographical split within the country is fascinating with the North being largely Asian in influence and the humid south of Dhofar being African.
The Frankincense Tree grows in rocky wadis close to the Arabian Sea, their swollen branches twisting this way and that. We’ll also search for the Arabian Chamaeleon whilst less pleasant habitats will allow us to get to know the plumage of the various Aquila Eagles that winter here in numbers. Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Arabian Wheatear and Hume’s Tawny Owls are amongst a suite of birds that also includes many of Dhofar’s typically African species such as Diederik Cuckoo, Black-crowned Tchagra, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and the gorgeous African Paradise Flycatcher. We’ll look for Verreaux’s Eagle and the unusual Golden-winged Grosbeak. From Salaleh we’ll visit some beautiful wadis where we’ll find colourful birds such as Indian Rollers, Grey-headed Kingfisher and both Palestine and Nile Valley Sunbirds. The road to Wadi Ash Shuwaymiyyah offers fabulous coastal scenery as well as the possibly of Socotra Cormorant. Odonata such as Violet Dropwing, Orange Darter and the Broad Scarlet inhabit the oasis whilst butterflies such as the Lime and the Blue Pansy visit the hanging garden waterfall. On the rocky wadi walls are Tristram’s Starling’s and we’ve a chance of finding Mountain Gazelle.
The journey from Dhofar to Muscat takes us through the classic desert oases of Qatbit and Muntasur where the beautiful scenery is suddenly transformed by pools of water, palms and other greenery. Such oases attract and concentrate wintering and migrant birds to an extent that a visiting birder feels rather like they are in sweet shop! As well as sorting through the various warblers, Redstarts, Shrikes, Pipits and Wagtails we’ll have a chance to see up-close both Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse. Night walks will see us searching for Common Genet and Rueppell’s Fox, and with luck we’ll find Wild Cat.
The Al-Hajar mountains in Muscat provide a scenic backdrop for birds such as Arabian Partridge, Green Bee-eater, and we’ll look for Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse coming into drink at pools in the evening. We’ll visit Ras-al-Hadd for a night walk amongst the Green Turtles – this is probably the most important breeding site for this species. A Dolphin Cruise will see us enjoying Spinner Dolphins, such consummate entertainers! Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphins are also likely and if we are lucky we might encounter other cetaceans such as Bottle-nosed Dolphins and False Killer Whale. Seabirds feature various terns and gulls, and there will likely be Phalaropes and Jouanin’s Petrels too.
Birds, Mammals (including Cetaceans), Reptiles and superb Desert Landscapes.
Phil Benstead, Ed Hutchings
No more than three or four miles in any one day, usually much less, and always at a relaxed pace ideally suited to photographers.
Included in the Price
All flights. All accommodation, transport and meals in Oman. Services of the leaders. Please note: Drinks, tips, Oman entry visa (currently 20 Omani Rials and available on entry to Oman) and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 14. Only one leader will accompany a group of 8 or less.
We start with five nights at the Beach Resort Salalah which is just ten minutes from the airport and on a quiet stretch of beach with plenty of palms nearby. The hotel has modern comfortable rooms with air-conditioning and balconies overlooking the sea. After a night at the Qatbit Motel in the oasis of the same name we move to the excellent Crowne Plaza Hotel in Duqm for a night. We’ll also have a single night in the fishing village of Ras-al-Jinz so that we can do a night walk in the surrounding turtle reserve of Ras al Hadd. Here we’ll stay in Australian manufactured and air-conditioned luxury Eco-Tents located on a hillock close by. All tents are en-suite and equipped with dressing table, complimentary internet access, in-room safe, mini-refrigerator, tea-coffee makers and LCD TV. These luxury tents are wind and rain proof. The last four nights in Muscat will be on at the Crowne Plaza, ideally situated right on the coast. All rooms and luxury tents on this tour have en-suite facilities and AC.
UK direct return flights are from London Heathrow to Muscat. Outbound there is an additional internal flight to Salalah. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Generally warm and sunny. Showers and more prolonged rain are possible and it can be quite cool on the higher passes.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.
Bird and mammal checklists are available.