“Chris was the perfect trip leader. His knowledge of the country and its history is vast and he enthusiastically wanted to share it with us along with his years of experience as a photographer… He’s talented, interesting, accessible, and fun to travel with. Plus, he really did seem to care about each of us — if we were okay, getting good images, too tired, too hot, etc. I would certainly travel with him again. He certainly kept up the high standards of a Jim Cline Photo Trip.” – Judy B., Colombia 2018

The yin to the United Arab Emirate’s yang, the mysterious and slow-paced sultanate of Oman is “old” Arabia, harking back to the days before the distorting lens of gaudy wealth turned much of the Arabian Peninsula into glitz and glamor. Utterly photogenic, Oman has everything fabulous that the Arabian Peninsula has to offer: Traditional and affable Arab and Bedouin cultures… colorful carpet-filled souks teeming with spices… glittering gold markets… old Arabic and Portuguese forts… ancient Yemeni-style mud architecture… and abundant natural beauty, from rugged mountains and verdant wadis to vast expanses of sand perfect for camel safaris. Plus, Oman is safe!

We’ll visit when Oman’s wonderful winter climate is at its most perfect. Plus, we’ll stay at some of the region’s top hotels, including a luxury desert camp amid the dunes!

Join renowned travel journalist and National Geographic photographer Christopher P. Baker on this memorable one-of-a-kind photo tour, and…

  • Explore Muscat, the atmospheric capital city, with its spectacular mosque and souk, and where every building must feature a dome or arabesque window.
  • Photograph a traditional cattle auction in Nizwah
  • Roam fertile wadis and rugged mountains by 4WD vehicle
  • Visit the Arabian gulf’s only remaining traditional dhow shipyard
  • Enjoy a camel ride across the Sharqiya Sands
  • Marvel as marine turtles lay their eggs in the sands at Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
  • Thrill to a full day sailing aboard a traditional dhow as we explore the fjord-like coast of the Musadam Peninsula
  • Plus, end with two days in Dubai, where we’ll be guided by one of the region’s top award-winning photographers.

TOUR DATES: FEBRUARY, 2020
PRICE: TBA
ITINERARY (SUBJECT TO CHANGE):

Day 1: Tuesday
Participants arrive and settle into our hotel in Muscat. Meet with Christopher in the evening for orientation, plus a set-the-scene slide show, then a welcome dinner.
Overnight: CROWNE PLAZA MUSCAT or INTERCONTINENTAL MUSCAT

Day 2: Wednesday
We begin by visiting the Mutrah fish market, where the day’s catch is delivered at sunrise. Then we’ll explore the famous and ūber-photogenic Mutrah gold market and adjoining souk—full of stalls attended by Omanis wearing jalabas and intricately embroidered hats, and selling antiques, carpets, and classic Arab khajars (curved daggers). In the afternoon we’ll head to nearby “Old Muscat,” set in a scalloped bay protected by old city walls and the Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani fortresses. We’ll dine in Mutrah—a chance to photograph the iconic Corniche waterfront, with its floodlit mosque and traditional dhows framed by jagged mountains at sunset.
Overnight: CROWNE PLAZA MUSCAT or INTERCONTINENTAL MUSCAT

Day 3: Thursday
This morning begins by visiting Sultan Qaboose Mosque, with its stunning contemporary architecture, breathtakingly rich prayer hall, and the world’s second-largest hand-woven rug. Then head inland via the fishing village of Al-Seeb (where we may stop to photograph fishermen mending nets) to Birkat Al-Mawz, a semi-deserted 17th-century oasis town that’s the gateway to the Jebel Akhdar mountains. Here we’ll hike Wadi Bani Habib, a palm-lined canyon with groves of apricots and pomegranates and abandoned hillside mud-walled hamlets. Our luxury hotel tonight has a spectacular cliff-top location, with sensational sunset views over the Wadi Bani Habib from Diana’s Viewpoint.
Overnight: ANANDARA AL-JALAL AL AKHDAR

Day 4: Friday
Up early this morning to visit the Friday-only livestock market at Nizwah, where goats, cattle and other beasts of burden are sold off amid boisterous bargaining by bearded old men in colorful turbans and jalabas. The market adjoins Nizwah’s souk, famous for its craftsmen skilled at making classic khajar curved daggers. We’ll also explore Nizwah’s 17th-century fort, pinned by a 40-meter-tall tower (well worth the climb for the photographs down over the palm groves). In the afternoon we’ll travel on to Misfat, a picturesque mountain village of terraced stone houses surrounded by date palm groves. Our hotel, The View at Jebel Shams, is aptly named for its spectacular setting!
Overnight: THE VIEW

Day 5: Saturday
A trip highlight is our morning visit to Bait Al-Safah, a “living history museum” in Al-Hamrah, one of Oman’s oldest oasis villages—superbly photogenic for its Yemeni-style mudbrick buildings. The photographic opportunities are sublime as women and men in traditional garb demonstrate domestic skills within the mud homes lit by pencils of sunlight streaming through windows high in the crumbling walls. Then on to Wadi Ghul, called the “Grand Canyon of Oman” for its 3,000-foot-tall sheer-faced walls. In the afternoon, we’ll head to Bahla to explore and photograph the massive 800-year-old city battlements and fort; and the potteries (tucked in narrow backstreets) where terra-cotta vases and other earthenware are hand-crafted in traditional manner.
Overnight: THE VIEW

Day 6: Sunday
Today we’ll drive to the legendary Sharqiya Sands (formerly Wahabe Sands) via the town of Sinaw. Here we’ll explore the exotic souk, where colorfully adorned Bedu (bedouins) trade goats and other livestock. Sinaw also has many well-preserved old mud houses. Driving into the sands proper, we’ll thrill to two nights camping amid the dunes in a luxury barrasti (tented camp) like something straight out of 1,001 Arabian Nights. We’ll dine alfresco beneath the stars, experience a traditional Bedouin dance and musical entertainment, and even drive away from camp to photograph the Milky Way.
Overnight: 1000 NIGHTS DESERT CAMP

Day 7: Monday
This morning, enjoy a camel ride to a Bedu camp, where we’ll lunch with a Bedouin family—a chance to interact closely with the women, dressed in exotic abeyas (robes) and beaked half-face burqas (many adorned with glittering jewels). Returning in late afternoon, photograph the camp’s Arabian Oryx and Arabian gazelle; relax by the swimming pool; or partake of optional activities offered by the desert resort.
Overnight: 1000 NIGHTS DESERT CAMP

Day 8: Tuesday
We hope to watch a camel race in the desert before departing for the gorgeous mountain oasis of Wadi Bani Kalid—a chance for a refreshing plunge in natural freshwater pools. We arrive beside the Indian Ocean at Al Ashkarah, a fishing village known for hanging sardines out to dry; and for its cuttlefish and squid dishes. After lunch, turn north to drive the short distance south to Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve. This is one of the region’s most important nesting sites for the Green turtle. This evening we’ll take a guided beach walk in hopes of watching turtles nesting. We’ll overnight in the reserve’s luxury eco-tents.
Overnight: RAS AL JINZ TURTLE RESERVE

Day 9: Wednesday
This morning return to Muscat via the Qurayat-Sur coast highway, along the scenic base of the Hajar Mountains. Arriving at the ancient fishing village of Al-Ayjah, we’ll explore the old town (where houses feature elaborately carved doors and lotus-pillar porches) and neighoring Sur, with its fascinating Maritime Museum (recalling Sur’s once-mighty prowess as a maritime port). Our photographic highlight here will be witnessing boat-builders at work in the dhow shipyard—the only one of its kind still remaining in Oman. Then continue north via Wadi Shab, a palm oasis with pools and ancient aqueducts. We’ll arrive Muscat in late afternoon.
Overnight: CROWNE PLAZA MUSCAT or INTERCONTINENTAL MUSCAT

Day 10: Thursday
Transfer to the airport for our mid-morning flight with Oman Air flight to Khasab, in the Musandam Peninsula, an Omani enclave extending into the Straits of Hormuz and separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates. We’ll arrive in time for lunch in this beautiful little town, famous until recently as a center of piracy and today still a center for contraband-running across the Straits of Hormuz. We’ll explore the lively souk, then you’re free to roam at leisure, including the surrounding hills where you can photograph shepherds, palm groves and the 17th-century Portuguese fortress. Our hotel has a sensational oceanfront location.
Overnight: ATANA MUSANDAM RESORT

Day 11: Friday
The peninsula’s coastline is called the “Norway of Arabia” for its many khors (desert fjords) studded with ancient tiny villages. Today a highlight… a full-day dhow safari through the Musandam khors, including a visit to the landlocked ancient village of Kumzar and Khor ash-Sham. There’ll be time to swim and snorkel, and photograph the dolphins that frequent these waters, before returning to Khasab.
Overnight: ATANA MUSANDAM RESORT

Day 12: Saturday
This morning drive along the cliff-hugging coast road to Tibat, offering spectacular views over the Straits of Hormuz. We cross into the United Arab Emirates, beginning with the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, with a stop to visit the former pearl-diving hamlet of Jazirat Al Hamra. Then via Sharjah into Dubai. This evening we’ll head up to the observation deck atop Burj Khalifa—the world’s tallest building—for sunset.
Overnight: SHANGRI-LA HOTEL

Day 13: Sunday
We’ll be joined this morning by local award-winning photographer Anique Ahmad, who’ll guide us around Dubai Creek to photograph the souks of Deita (including the glittering Gold Souk and the fantastically fragrant spice souk) and the streets and wharves of the old trading port. The afternoon is free for you to explore Dubai at leisure. We’ll enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by a slideshow of everyone’s favorite images.
Overnight: SHANGRI-LA HOTEL

Day 14: Monday
Depart for home.

All images courtesy the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism and Visit Dubai