When a friend of mine told me about ‘this camp in the desert’ which gives a pretty genuine experience, I was a little sceptical. However he insisted and as we had just brought a shiny new 2013 Nissan Patrol it seemed like a great opportunity to try it out (and it did great in the sand!)
The 1000 Nights Camp is around 125kms out of Muscat. They have a good set of instructions on their website of how to get there, but make sure you have a GPS and plug the co-ordinates in. You need to deflate your tires at the last service station before you leave the road - they will know what to do, but will charge your for it. If you have a portable pump with a gauge you can do it yourself. You can try looking in your manual, but there might not be information - there is a good guide here. Remember, you need to pump them back up again when you get back on the road, otherwise they will wear badly and at the higher speeds of normal motoring you risk an accident.
Driving on sand is quite an experience, but the new car had no problems and you aren’t likely to getting to this place as the route is straightforward. Most cars have several settings for four-wheel-drive. In normal operation on sand you will probably not want the lowest gear setting on your vehicle, but the second lowest. Obviously, if you get stuck engage the lowest setting to try and get out of there. Be careful on the revs when trying to get out a stuck situation as if the wheels are spinning you can get bogged down very quickly. If that doesn’t work, there are a couple of tricks to get out: you can try putting the floor mats under the wheels and you can also engage a gear (only works on manuals) while the car is off and use the starter motor to try and pull out - be careful this wears down the battery very quickly so you only have a few goes!
When we arrived the first night we had beautiful meal with great food and retired to our tent. Sounds tough, but with tiled floors, air conditioning and a bathroom about the only authentic bit is the tent. However, if you have to get up at 4:30am the next morning to see the sun rise over the desert, this is good way to do it. Sunrise was worth it!
We then took a trip out into the desert on camels. They deserve their reputation as tough, obstinate creatures, but we eventually got the hang of keeping them going in the right direction and this was a real experience of what it must have been like for the real bedouin crossing the desert. Went quad-biking the next day which was a real laugh.
Relaxing, romantic, unique - can throughly recommend the 1000 Nights Camp