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 - 11 Days

Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Muscat, Oman
Depart on an overnight flight to Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman. Check into our stunning hotel overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman. Al Bustan Palace*


Day 3 — Muscat
Learn about Ibadism, Oman’s main Islamic sect, and its doctrine of tolerance at the stunning Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque paved with marble and made of Indian sandstone. Stroll through the Oman Botanic Garden and take in views of the sultan’s opulent official residence, Al Alam Palace. Wander the labyrinthine alleyways of the Muttrah Souq, an Arabian bazaar filled with exotic spices, perfumes and handicrafts. In the fishing village of Qantab, see the boatyard featured in National Geographic’s documentary Sailing the Treasure Ship, and meet with archaeologists reconstructing medieval Arab boats that transported goods from Africa to Singapore. This evening, enjoy a fresh catch from local fishermen at dinner in a restored village house. Al Bustan Palace (B,L,D)


Day 4 — Wadi Shab/Qantab
Explore the natural wonders of Oman traveling the old coast road. Visit the turquoise Bimmah sinkhole, hike through cliff-walled canyons and take a swim at the stunning Wadi Shab. Or take a scenic drive enjoying views of Oman's magnificent coastal scenery; travel through small, sea-side villages, take a beach walk and enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the waters of the Gulf of Oman. Al Bustan Palace (B,L)


Day 5 — 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, nestled between towering canyon walls covered in Bronze and Iron Age rock art. 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 6 — Bahla/Bat
Explore Oman’s largest fortress, Bahla Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its pottery and once believed to be a center of magic and sorcery. Then head to another World Heritage site: the Al Ayn tombs and the prehistoric settlements, towers and tombs of Bat. National Geographic archaeologist Christopher Thornton is co-director of the Bat Archaeological Project, an excavation supported by the Society. On an insider’s tour of the site, learn about the Bronze Age Umm an-Nar culture, whose production of copper and long distance trade with India and Mesopotamia helped develop the Arabian Peninsula. 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)


Day 7 — Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
In the oasis city of Al Ain, visit the Al Ain National Museum to discover the history of this important stop on the caravan routes. Join a local expert for a discussion on the challenges of regional development, from rapid industrialization to an influx of foreign workers. Continue to the stunning Al Maha Desert Resort, recipient of a 2004 World Legacy Award from National Geographic and Conservation International. The resort is inside the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, home to many desert species: gazelles, foxes and lizards; as well as a few hundred rare Arabian oryx, declared extinct in the wild in the 1970s. Take an evening 4x4 safari through the dunes in search of wildlife. Al Maha Desert Resort (B, L, D)


Day 8 — Al Maha Desert Resort
Rise early for a traditional falconry demonstration and a guided walk through the reserve. Photograph the animals as they roam freely and hear about efforts to conserve their habitat. In the afternoon, choose between several options, including a ride on an Arabian horse or a camel trek though the desert. Learn about the Bedouin nomads who have traversed the desert for thousands of years. Al Maha Desert Resort (B,L,D)


Day 9 — Abu Dhabi
Drive to the capital city, Abu Dhabi, and enjoy lunch aboard a traditional dhow boat. Meet a coral reef conservationist and discuss work funded by National Geographic to study the effects of climate change on coral reef health. Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, among the grandest in the Middle East, with a capacity for 41,000 worshippers, and gain insight into the religious traditions of the UAE. Continue to Dubai, one of the world’s most extravagant cities.Ritz-Carlton Dubai (B, L)


Day 10 — Dubai
Wander through the narrow lanes of Dubai’s historic Bastakiya quarter founded by merchants in the 19th century. Explore a Hindu temple complex and market, and discuss the medieval Indian- Arab trade routes and cultural exchange. Head to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and enjoy free time this afternoon to shop or take a swim in the sea. Tonight, gather for our festive farewell dinner.  Ritz-Carlton Dubai (B,D)


Day 11 — Dubai/U.S.
Transfer to the airport this morning for your return flight home. (B)



Pricing starts at $6,000 per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $2,600. International airfare to Muscat and return from Dubai is not included in the expedition cost.


Solo Travelers

Accommodations (hotels, tents and cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. If you prefer single accommodations, and if such are available, you can pay a single supplement fee. If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we can assign a roommate of the same gender. If there is no one with whom you can share, a single supplement fee will apply.


See special terms and conditions for this adventure.

Traveling the Sands of Time: Oman to Dubai

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Group or Custom Journeys

Starting at $6,000 Per Person