While it may seem like an oxymoron, a guided, self-drive tour is actually possible! It’s an entirely new concept in this type of tour - independent in that you’re in your own vehicle, but guided in that you’re in a caravan of four or five other vehicles, all led by an expert guide. Now, picture yourself in some of the world’s most exotic and remote destinations, driving a luxury SUV in a group of others, with your experienced guide vehicle in the lead - think Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia. While these may not be destinations you would feel confident visiting without a guide, when you travel in this manner, you can still experience the freedom of your own vehicle and privacy. Let’s see what it would be like …

Guided, Self-Drive Tour in the Sultanate of Oman 

First … why Oman? Instead, you should be asking yourself, why not? The Sultanate of Oman is the second-largest country on the Arabian Peninsula. It’s a land of startling contrasts - the marine life of the Indian Ocean versus the rugged Hajar Mountains versus the huge sand dune desert of the Rub Al Khali, or Empty Quarter. 

You’ll be warmly welcomed into Oman by friendly, warm and tolerant people - this is a country that takes its role as peacemaker and mediator very seriously. It wasn’t until 1970, when the late Sultan Qaboo came to power, that Oman started to open up to visitors from the outside world. Thanks to a large development program and increased access to housing, electricity, clean water and an excellent road network, the Sultanate of Oman is now fully open for tourism. 

So why explore this magical country by impersonal tour bus? That just won’t do. Instead, you can explore via a guided, self-drive holiday that will unlock the secrets of the Sultanate in a personalized and unforgettable manner. 

Here’s a taste of what your own Oman self-drive, yet guided, holiday could look like: 

  • Approximately 1,200 miles of driving throughout Oman, including more than 450 miles off-road (no experience required)

  • Three nights’ hotel accommodations

  • One night glamping at a traditional camel farm 

  • Four nights wild camping

  • Maximum of five guest cars, ensuring an intimate experience

Your journey can be tailored any way you like it, including everything, or picking and choosing your inclusions from the following:

  • Rental car and gas

  • Accommodations

  • Camping equipment rental

  • Meals and soft drinks 

  • Various local tour options

  • Farewell dinner

Sample Itinerary

Day One: You’ll arrive in Muscat, Oman and pick up your rental car. After coffee and a pre-trip briefing, you’ll drive to the old city of Adam for a historical oasis tour. Tonight’s overnight stay is at the traditional Omani Camel Farm.

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears - Oman, December 2014

Day Two: You’ll drive 124 miles out to the desert entry point of the exceptionally remote Al Huqf Escarpment. Marvel at the incredible starscape, thanks to the very dark nights. After 50 miles of off-road driving, you’ll reach the camping location. 

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears - Oman, December 2014

Day Three: After a light camp breakfast, drive 60 off-road miles, with some easy rock crawling until reaching the road at Duqm. Enjoy a luxurious hotel night, with dinner. 

Day Four: Depart the hotel and drive west to Al Ghaftain. Enter Rub Al Khali and drive until one hour before sunset, when you’ll arrive at camp and enjoy a lavish barbecue and, again, a mesmerizing nightscape. 

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears - Oman, December 2014

Day Five: Continue to drive northward, stopping for photo opportunities along the way, and camp overnight just south of the Umm As Sameem. 

Day Six: Continue in the Rub Al Khali, crossing the mysterious Umm As Sameem. Travel to the historic town of Ibri and enjoy another hotel overnight. 

Day Seven: After leaving the hotel, you’ll have time to explore some fascinating geology and drive through Wadi Sahtan. Camp overnight near Wadi Banni Hinni. 

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears - Oman, December 2014

Days Eight and Nine: Visit an old oasis village on the edge of the Wadi Bani Hinni, drive back to Muscat via highway and check into the hotel before the farewell dinner. 

Intrigued? Here are a couple more guided, self-driving options (it’s only in Oman that the rental car is included - in the destinations below, you are required to rent your own vehicle for the tour): 

United Arab Emirates: Explore the massive Abu Dhabi desert, including the Rub Al Khali (The Empty Quarter). Delve deep into the desert and dunes to discover the rich culture and heritage of the Bedu. Watch out your window - a gazelle may appear, watching as your mysterious (to it) convoy passes by. 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Drive through a land of great cultural diversity, across deserts, along coasts and beautiful beaches and in the shadow of great mountains and magnificent rock formations. Get insight into the old world and an understanding of the new world of Saudi. 

Ready to try this unique and exciting mode of travel, that is at once highly personal and well supported? Let’s chat.