The Silence Of The Desert

 

“I recommend you try the combination of coffee with dates”, suggested our host. Having just arrived at the 1000 Night’s Camp, we were sipping ‘Kahawa’ – black coffee flavoured with cardamom and saffron.

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Entering the camp

We had driven down in the morning from Muscat to Mintrib. From there, we had a pick up arranged as it was a 40 km drive into the desert to reach the 1000 Nights Camp.The driver navigated his way skillfully through the sandy tracks and dunes, and made it seem like driving in the desert was no big deal!  Leaving behind the sounds of civilization we entered the sandy terrain of the dessert, which slowly became the only landscape that we saw all around us. We passed through small Bedouin hamlets, herds of goats and a few camels, munching away at dry shrubs.

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High sand dunes bordered us on one side and it felt like the tracks were winding endlessly into the horizon, punctuated with small boards directing the way to the camp.

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Reaching the 1000 Nights Camp

Set in the desert milieu amongst the Cineraria trees, in a remote spot of the Wahiba Sands is the 1000 Night’s Camp. The setting of the camp is that of a Bedouin encampment. Visitors are alienated from the sounds of mobile phones ringing and dune buggies racing around, thereby getting to experience the real silence of the desert.

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The Bedouin tents spread all over the camp are made of stout branches and camel haircloth, with furnishing done in a rustic style. Each tent has an attached open-air bathroom and it is a novel experience to take a shower gazing at the stars!

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After settling in, we made our way to the restaurant, which is the camps favourite hang out place.

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The restaurant is done up in the local Arabic style, with sitting cushions and low tables. Open on all sides, with the gentle breeze blowing makes you forget the absence of fans or air conditioners.We had made ourselves comfortable drinking cups of tea, until our guide suggested we make a move to see the sunset.

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During the drive to the sunset point you get a taste of `dune bashing’-  a cross-country drive across the dunes, at times giving you the feel of going in a roller coaster! Atop a high sand dune was the sunset point, from where you can see acres and acres of smaller dunes all around.

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Everyone watched in silence as the orange ball slowly receded into the horizon.

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Returning to the camp, the pathways leading to our tents had been lit up with lights placed inside lanterns. After sunset there is minimal lighting in the camp, as a generator provides it. Inside the tent, we opened up the flaps to let in the evening desert breeze.

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The camp after sunset
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Hand wash: desert style!

Before dinner, we got a glimpse of how the locals cook in the desert. Seated on the ground, was a person from the Bedouin tribe roasting coffee beans on a charcoal stove. The roasted beans were coarsely ground and served as the traditional black coffee.  Dinner was a spread of Arabic cuisine followed by more cups of tea and coffee.

The night skies in the desert are spectacular. As we took a walk around the camp, we could see millions of stars in the sky. In the distant horizon, was a soft glow coming from the lights of the nearest town. Otherwise, we were left with the silence of the desert.

 

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