INSIGHT Rub al Khali


September 15 2020

Rub al Khali

Rebecca Mayston, Manager & Expedition Leader at The Guide Oman

As Kiwis, it is almost a right of passage to adulthood, to have a little of that “itch/urge/curiosity” to explore the big wide world.  New Zealand is a remarkable country, but being so far from the rest of the world we grow up seeing other countries through social media, movies/tv, and through the stories of our parents' OE (Overseas Experience) adventures. The classic NZ OE most commonly finds people traveling to the forefathers' homeland of the UK.  I was more fascinated with Arabia, and after my first visit to Oman over 12 years ago, that addiction was ignited.  I have been in Oman ever since, and never fail to be amazed by the adventure and opportunities the country has. Oman, her nature, and her deserts have become my passion.

It is not uncommon to receive a few raised eyebrows when people hear what I do for work in Oman.  I am proud to have been part of the journey of building an offroad, desert tourism sector, and teach people how to drive in the dunes.  My office is often simply in my Jeep high atop a sand dune, amidst some of the most beautiful desert terrains you can imagine.  

At Guide Oman, we run self-drive, self-camping desert safari weekends.  We provide an environment for safe desert adventures, teaching the crucial skills, providing all the support as well as the catering.  Stress-free ways of enjoying the thrill of desert driving, and nights under the stars in the middle of nowhere.  Whether beginners or experienced drivers, the desert provides adventure for everyone. The lovely thing is that Guide Oman has become a desert family with so many regulars joining to welcome the first time adventurers.  

Each trip begins with a safety talk, and complete drivers education briefing with a baby Jeep,  before venturing off for the days driving.  Being fully aided by our support crew Team 3R means that at all times guests are reassured of safety with the team's constant Rescue, Recovery and Relief!  Afterall, as we say, “if you're not getting stuck you're not truly in the desert! It is just part of the fun.”

Traversing Sharqiyah Desert and Rub al Khali (the Empty Quarter) is mesmerizing.  No trip is ever the same, even if the entry destination is consistent. The mileage of desert terrain is as extensive as the memories.  

Every November for the last few years, to mark the celebration of Oman’s National Day, we've been hosting our EPIC Rub al Khali trip. Five days, four nights within terrain that is nothing short of breathtaking.  Mountainous towers of golden yellow sand are separated by flat valleys.  No cell coverage.  No sign of people or animals.  Just endless miles of sand. It is a destination that has a strange way of connecting and drawing you in, and quite simply leaves you wanting more... even after FIVE days.

Al Jadaylah and the jeep: The Tallest Sand Dune in Arabia almost looks small... until you see the view from the top!

Rub al Khali, otherwise known as the Empty Quarter is famous for many historic explorers, such as Wilfred Theisenger and Bertram Thomas, as well as the Frankincense Trade. It is the world's largest sand desert and runs along the border of Oman with her neighbors. What many do not realize is that it is also home to the Tallest Sand Dune in Arabia, Al Jadaylah.  To be on top of this magnificent sand dune is indeed breathtaking, for the view as well as the cardio effort required to reach the top.  Breathlessly you take in a scene of nothing but an endless horizon of rolling sand dunes.  It is moments like this that emphasize just how lucky we are, and also just how insignificant and vulnerable.

Drivers' education with the famous yellow Jeep 

If ever there was a lifetime memory and must-do experience the Desert’s of Oman would be it, but for the ULTIMATE bucket list “take-your-breath-away” destination, Rub al Khali is it.  I would encourage everyone to travel Oman, whether you are an international guest or call Oman home there is just so much to explore, discover, and enjoy… you won’t be disappointed.  As they say “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”.

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