Expert-Led Group Tour

Oman group tour - From ancient Magan to the Frankincense lands

11 days

from £4,750pp
  • Accompanied by Oman expert Carl Phillips on an indepth exploration of Oman
  • Visit local communities in the rose scented, mountain villages of the Hajar Mountains
  • Dine under the stars and spend a night in the desert at Wahiba Sands
  • Experience a dawn expedition to watch huge green turtles lay their eggs at Ras al Jinz
  • Visit the beautifully presented ruins of the ancient Al Baleed and the museum in Salalah

The tour begins in the warm, welcoming city of Muscat, surrounded by mountainous peaks and the beautiful beaches of the Arabian Sea. This modern city has an excellent infrastructure with luxury hotels, exclusive restaurants and high-end fashion boutiques, but you will discover underneath its modern façade there exists a fascinating past. Enter the ancient Muttrah souq for an introduction to traditional Muscat life. This is Muscat at its most magical - an absorbing labyrinth of narrow, perfume-laden alleyways packed with colourful little shops stacked high with tubs of frankincense and bukhoor, old silver khanjars, Bedu jewellery and other exotic paraphernalia – one of the few markets in the world where it’s possible to buy gold, frankincense and myrrh all under a single roof.

Al Hamra, Jabrin and Bahla Fort

Outside Muscat is a dramatic jumble of peaks and wadis that look tantalisingly wild and undiscovered, and offer culture and history. This mountainous region has much to explore including the lush Wadi Bani Khalid where it’s possible to swim in deep, freshwater lagoons. Charming villages, such as Bilad Sayt and Al Hamra, famous for their extensive date plantations. The whole region is also known for its bee keeping and honey production. During this exploration, visit the finest of Oman’s castles at Jabrin, built in the late 17th century, which displays incredible ceiling painting and woodcarving. Inspect the unique falaj (irrigation) system at Al Hamra and meet a local farmer to discuss this old age farming technique. Continue to Wahiba Sands.

Wahiba Sands

Experience complete peace and tranquillity with a night stargazing in Wahiba Sands. Rolling sand seas offer classic, photogenic shots of the golden dunes and have the opportunity to visit a Bedouin family to learn about their demanding way of life in the desert. Hike to the highest dune to watch the sun set over the desert.

Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve

From Wahiba return towards the coast, visiting a Dhow building yard to learn how this traditional Omani sailing boat is still made. This coastal area of Oman is also well known for green turtle that migrate to its shores to lay their eggs. Green turtles drag themselves out of the water to the beach and with great difficulty, dig a hole in the sand in which they bury their eggs. They then return to the sea. The eggs hatch about 55 days later and baby turtles come out to start the most dangerous journey of their lives. Watching the turtles' night dash into the sea is an incredibly moving and memorable experience, knowing what they have to go through to survive. If you are lucky you may also experience a giant turtle laying its eggs as well.


For the final few days of the tour, the group heads south to the beautiful, tropical city of Salalah. Facing south over the Arabian Sea, it offers a flavour of Zanzibar, a one-time colony of Oman with its vibrant culture, coconut-fringed beaches and plantations of bananas and papayas. Stay 3 nights in Salalah to discover the area’s varied history, landscapes and culture. Visit the fishing village of Taqa, an old town with an imposing castle surrounded by watchtowers and stone houses. Explore the site of the ruined city of Samhuram and capital of ancient Arabia’s frankincense trade. Excavations have produced evidence of an ancient city with trade links to destinations in the Far East and even with distant Greece. You also visit the archeological site of Al Balid, an ancient merchant city that came to life between the 12th and 16th centuries.

Where does this group tour visit in Oman?

The tour begins in the warm, welcoming city of Muscat, surrounded by mountainous peaks and the beautiful beaches of the Arabian Sea. This modern city has an excellent infrastructure with luxury hotels, exclusive restaurants and high-end fashion boutiques, but you will discover underneath its modern façade there exists a fascinating past.

Enter the ancient Muttrah souq to experience Muscat at is most magical. The souq contains a labyrinth of narrow, shop-filled alleyways packed high with tubs of frankincense and bukhoor, old silver khanjars, Bedu jewellery and other exotic paraphernalia – one of the few markets in the world where it’s possible to buy gold, frankincense and myrrh all under a single roof. 

A short stroll along the corniche at sunset is a wonderful experience and hugely popular with locals. Visit the Grand Mosque followed by a tour of the exquisite Opera House, constructed using only the best craftsmanship and materials. If you are interested in seeing a performance please ask us to check what is programmed and we will book you tickets. Visit private houses and museums with hosted dinners to learn about ancient Oman and modern lives.

Why should i join this tour?

During this group tour to Oman you visit the major highlights and along the way unveil some of the country's best kept secrets. Accompanied by our Tour Lecturer, Carl Phillips who has worked extensively in the Middle East specialising in the archaeology of Arabia, he offers an excellent view of the region's politics, culture and history. Along side Carl is Khushboo, our man on the ground who is highly experienced in leading groups and providing an excellent level of customer service.

Carl is also joined by guest lecturers and researchers who will all provide greater depth and insight to your understanding of Oman's incredible heritage and natural beauty. This tour offers huge value for money as in addition to our expert you are supported by a Tour Manager who will pay attention to all your individual requirements during your visit.

This group trip to Oman is designed to uplift, educate, delight the senses, titillate the taste buds and send you home with a warm heart and lasting memories.

Is this group tour suitable for solo travellers?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Lecturer.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

How long does it take to travel to Oman?

Getting to Oman couldn't be easier with a 6.5 hour direct flight and special assistance on arrival arranged for our group, with airside meet and greet, visa application and an escort to the front of the queue.  

What is the maximum group tour size?

Unlike other group tours to Oman, Steppes Travel guarantee that you join a small group with a maximum of 15 people.

Departing on:
  • 11th November 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
11th Nov 2018 21st Nov 2018 £ 4,750 £ 700 £ 1,300 Carl Phillips Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation in mentioned hotels
  • All meals
  • All taxes
  • All tours and transfers in private AC coach
  • Daily bottles of mineral water on tour
  • Domestic flights in economy class from Muscat to Salalah return
  • Entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Meet and assist services at Muscat Airport
  • Services of an English speaking Expert Lecturer
  • Services of an English speaking tour manager
  • Tips for drivers and local guide
  • Tips for porters and tips in restaurants
  • Use of 4WD vehicles outside of Muscat

what is excluded

  • International flights
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Suggested group flights
The suggested group outbound flight for this tour is:

British Airways BA79, scheduled to depart London Heathrow at 19:50 on Saturday 10th November, arriving into Muscat airport at 07:05 on Sunday 11th November.

You will be met on arrival, assisted with immigration formalities before being transferred to your hotel.

The afternoon is at leisure. In the evening there will be a briefing and introduction from the Tour manager, Khushboo and the Tour lecturer, Carl Phillips.

For those making their own way to Muscat and not taking the suggested group flight, the starting point for the group is the hotel in Muscat. Please speak to one of our team should you need help organising an arrival transfer. You will meet with the rest of the group for a short briefing at the arrival hotel - meeting time to be confirmed in your final documentation.

Muscat is the capital city of Oman and a fascinating clash of old and new. Aesthetically the city is unabashedly contemporary, yet expressions of the city's rich past and traditions are very much evident. The veneer of modernity, supplied by astonishing state-of-the-art architecture, cloaks an ancient cultural heritage and it is this intriguing blend that makes Muscat such an alluring city.

Visit Bait al Baranda and Muttrah Souk
Evening drive along the waterfront corniche before visiting Bait Branda museum and onto Muttrah Souq, one of the oldest marketplaces in the Arab world but now housed under modern timber roofing. It is also one of the few markets in the world where it is possible to buy gold, frankincense and myrrh all under one roof. The main thoroughfare of the market carries mainly domestic goods but further inside, the mixed aromas of frankincense, perfume oils and fresh spices pervade the air. On the side streets and alleyways leading up to the main market, there are also several shops full of Omani silver and embroidered kumahs (cotton caps, traditionally worn by Omani men).

dinner included.

You will be staying at Crowne Plaza Hotel, full board

Day 2

Sultan Qaboos and National Museum in Muscat
Start the day with a visit to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which was a gift to the people of Oman from their leader, Sultan Qaboos. Completed in 2001, this striking mosque is a glorious example of modern Islamic architecture. An imposing structure, much of the grandeur is saved for the building's interior, which is lavishly decorated.

Among the highlights is the mosque's beautiful prayer carpet, which was hand-crafted in Iran. Woven over a four year period, this vast rug fills the entire prayer hall and is the second largest carpet in the world. (There is a strict dress code to enter so ladies will need to be fully covered with a head scarf and men will need to wear in trousers and shirts.) It makes for a good comparison to what you might get to see in Bahla.

From the mosque, travel onto the National Museum, situated in the heart of Muscat, offering a wonderful range of collections. After the museum, you can walk to see the waterfront and forts of Mirani and Jilali, seeing en route the Sultan's palace and other ministerial buildings. Lunch today is at the Seedab Women's Association.

Lunch with Sidab Women Association in Old Muscat
Lunch and visit to the Sidab Women’s Sewing Group to taste traditional Omani cuisine, and learn more about the local culture and traditions of the Sultanate.

Winds of change began to sweep the scenic fishing village of Sidab when six women joined hands to form a community group in 2004. The aim of the aptly named Sidab Women’s Sewing Group was to train local women in the craft of sewing to help them earn a regular income. The members quickly became proficient in manufacturing bags, purses and other hand-made products. SWSG is an opportunity to visit its headquarters in Sidab, taste traditional culinary delights and interact with Omani women. NOTE: lunch is served in a very traditional Omani way, around low tables with cushions to sit on.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Crowne Plaza Hotel, full board

Day 3

Nakhal Fort through Wadi Bani Awf and on to Jebel Akhdar
Drive to Wadi Bani Awf and Al Hamra stopping en route to visit Nakhl Fort.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at The View, full board

Day 4

Jabrin, Salut Archelogical site and Bat Al Ayan
After breakfast, proceed to Jabrin, the finest of Oman's Castles, built in the late 17th century, which became a seat of Omani learning. The Castle displays incredible Omani ceiling paintings and beautifully executed woodcarvings. You will have a picnic lunchi n Bahla before visiting the fort. Return back to Al Hamra to visit Bayt Safah.

Al Hamra is found on the windy road from Muscat to Nizwa and is characterized by its small mud houses and date plantations.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at The View, full board

Day 5

Bat and Al-Ayn
Travel to the protohistoric archaeological complex of Bat, al-Khutm and al-Ayn which encompass the most unique ensemble of 4,000-5,000-year-old burial monuments, towers, and settlement remains in the Arabian Peninsula. This site represents an extraordinary example of the unique response of the ancient people of Oman to the pressures of an increasing population and to the input from contacts with other civilizations. This afternoon drive to Jebel Shams, which culminates at 3,009 metres and is the highest point in Oman. Jebel Shams, literally the 'mountain of the sun', offers spectacular views across the neighbouring canyons. Return to Al Hamra for dinner and an overnight stay.

You will be staying at The View, full board

Day 6

Al Hamra to Wahiba
Start the day by visiting the Friday market (Souq) renowned for its Friday cattle auction, intricately hand-carved "Khanjars" (daggers) and ornamental silver jewellery. Afterwards, visit the city's vast 17th Century fort, which, due to its strategic location, was used to defend the city's natural wealth.

Continue onto Wahiba, visiting the pretty village of Birkat Al Mauz, where you can take a short walk through its oasis and date plantations. Continue to your camp in the spectacular Wahiba Sands, with dunes as high as 200 metres.

On arrival at the camp, enjoy a walk to watch the sunset over the spectacular sand dunes of the Wahiba desert.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Desert Nights Camp, full board

Day 7

Wahiba Sands
After a relaxed breakfast, drive to Ras al-Jinz stopping to visit Jaylah and Fins beach en route. Stop to see the high point in Jaylah where a picnic lunch will be served before descending down to the coast passing through dramatic scenery. Time allowing there will be a stop at a Wadi for a late afternoon stroll and swim before arriving at Ras al-Jonz for an evening of turtle watching.

Wahiba Sands are home to the most incredible sand dunes, some reaching a colossal 100 metres high and separated by enormous depressions. These beautiful dunes stretch as far as the eye can see and it is a spectacular sight especially in the evening and the morning, when the warm colours of the desert become much richer and the long shadows accentuate the splendour of these giant forms. The sands are made of grains of rock, blown in from nearby eroded rocks and marine sediments and they are moving inland at a pace of about 10 metres a year.

Turtle Watching
After dinner, once dark, you will be driven to the beach and escorted by trained guides to observe the nesting turtles. A remarkable sight where flash photography is not permitted. If you are interested there are also dawn expeditions available. Please note that this tour is in complete darkness due to light pollution regulations. Please take care.

Ras al Jinz, a fishing village located within the Ras Al Hadd Turtle Reserve is an important turtle-nesting site. With over 20,000 green turtles returning anually to the beach to lay their eggs, this area is rich in marine biodiversity. The Turtle Reserve was established in 1996 and the current centre set up in 2008 to protect the region and this endangered species.

You will be staying at Ras Al Jinz Scientific Centre, full board

Day 8

Travel back to Muscat
There will be time in the morning for a short visit to places in and around Sur. Then, travel north along the coast to Quriyat and Muscat, stopping along the way to see from a distance the ancient city of Qalhat.

Fly Muscat to Salalah

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Crowne Plaza Hotel, full board

Day 9

This morning explore the al-Balid archaeological park and Frankincense Lands Museum, followed by a stop at the al-Hafa Suq. Lunch will be in a well-known local Lebanese restaurant. This afternoon drive up to the mountains to visit Wadi Ayun, the starting point for journeying into the Rub al-Khali. En route back to the hotel visit Job's tomb.

Salalah is the capital city of southern Oman's Dhofar province. It's known for its banana plantations, Arabian Sea beaches and waters teeming with sea life. The Khareef, an annual monsoon, transforms the desert terrain into a lush, green landscape and creates seasonal waterfalls. The Frankincense Land Museum, part of the Al Balid Archaeological Site, recounts the city’s maritime history and role in the spice trade.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Crowne Plaza Hotel, full board

Day 10

Taqah, Khor Rori Creek, Samhuran and Mirbat
This morning, visit the fishing village of Taqah, an old town with an interesting castle surrounded by watchtowers and Taqah stone houses. Proceed onward to Khor Rori Creek, the site of the ruined city of Sumhuram and capital of ancient Arabia's frankincense trade. Excavations have produced evidence of an ancient city with trade links by sea to Far Eastern destinations and even with distant Greece. Mirbat, the ancient capital of Dhofar, was an important town as early as the 9th century for its trade in frankincense, horses and slaves. See some of the old houses famous for their woodcarving.

Continue onto Wadi Darbat, where a dramatic cliff turns into a spectacular waterfall during the khareef (monsoon), spouting cascades of water amid a tangle of lush greenery. This cliff marks the entrance to Wadi Darbat (also spelled Dhabat or Derbet), whose waters feed Khor Rori below. For the best view make your way to the foot of the cliff, amid seasonal rock pools and with fine views of the tumbling waters above (or, in the dry season, of the pockmarked rocks of the cliff face known as a 'travertine curtain', a common geological formation in Dhofa, whose original sandstone has been dissolved by the force of the water into strange, wax-like shapes.

You will have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.

breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Crowne Plaza Hotel, full board

Day 11

Fly Salalah to Muscat

Suggested group flights
The suggested group inbound flight for this tour is:

British Airways BA80, scheduled to depart Muscat airport at 10:55 on Wednesday 21st November, arriving into London Heathrow at 14:55 on the same day. A departure transfer will be provided to connect with this flight.

For those not taking the suggested group flight, please speak to one of our team should you need help organising a departure transfer.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Crowne Plaza Hotel

Crowne Plaza Hotel

Set on a clifftop overlooking the Gulf of Oman, this chic, waterside hotel is 3 km from the Royal Opera House Muscat and 15 km from the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque....

View Accommodation

Desert Nights Camp

Desert Nights Camp

Desert Nights is a luxurious desert style camp based in the heart of Wahiba Sands, Oman....

View Accommodation

The View

The View

The View is an eco-retreat, complete with 30 rooms, most in individual cabins, located in the hills above the town of Al Hamra, a few hours drive from Muscat and 45 minutes from the ancient city of Nizwa....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Oman

Charlotte Lawton, Sales Consultant

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Katie Benden, Travel Expert

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"Very happy with Katie Benden. Great service – always prompt reply to queries and always polite, attentive and informative. A wonderful holiday."

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Kate Hitchen, Travel Expert

"Kate was calm and bent over backwards to accommodate my jitters about going to Kashmir in the light of tighter FCO guidelines just a few days before our departure. She was absolutely correct in advising against what I thought we should do. Several times during the holiday we said that, 'Kate was dead right about that!'."

"We asked for a rather particular kind of Indian holiday. You delivered it in full. Highlights? Honestly, each day was a highlight in itself. "

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour expert

Carl Phillips

Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips graduated in 1980 from Edinburgh University where he studied prehistory and archaeology. In 1981 and 1982 he was employed by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture in the Sultanate of Oman as assistant to the archaeological adviser. Subsequently he conducted a number of projects throughout the 1980s in the United Arab Emirates, as well as taking part on projects in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq. Throughout the 1990s he taught at UCL Institute of Archaeology, London, specializing in the Archaeology of pre-Islamic Arabia. During this time he initiated a major project at Kalba, in Sharjah Emirate, not far from the Oman border, and also established the first British archaeological excavations in north Yemen. Since the beginning of the 1980s he has remained a frequent visitor to Oman and from 2006 to 2014 was the field director of the archaeological project focused on the site of Salut, conducted by the University of Pisa's 'Italian Mission to Oman' (IMTO) and the Office of the Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan for Cultural Affairs. In addition to archaeology and history he has a strong interest in the local cultures of the Arabian peninsula and has also written about aspects of its wildlife and vegetation, as well as the history of exploration in Arabia.

Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Carl Phillips

Departure Date (S):

  • 11th November 2018

  • Active – The tour may involve daily walks and will have a faster pace in certain areas. Walks will be no longer than 6 hours. The pace of this tour will be quite busy, expect long travel days and very little time at leisure.

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