London - Abu Dhabi
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport for a direct, scheduled Etihad Airways flight to Abu Dhabi. Upon arrival, we transfer to the Rotana Yas Island Hotel (4T) on Yas Island adjacent to the stunning Formula 1 circuit and offering superb views of the Arabian Gulf.
A morning sightseeing tour introduces the highlights of Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate. Though it has, like Dubai, recently witnessed a magnificent transformation, Emirati heritage is still apparent everywhere in Abu Dhabi. We make visits to the huge Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which can accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers, The Heritage Village, a reconstruction of a traditional oasis settlement offering a fascinating insight into the past, and Manarat al Saadiyat, a superb new interactive arts venue. We also make brief stops at the iconic beachfront Emirates Palace and the delightful Corniche. After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy our hotel’s many excellent amenities.
Abu Dhabi - Dubai
We make the transfer from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, where our base for the next two nights is The Best Western Premier Deira Hotel (3T) or similar. Today’s activities reveal the two aspects of Dubai. An afternoon cultural city tour takes in Bastakia, the oldest part of Dubai, the towering Jumeirah Mosque and the Dubai Museum, housed in the 150-year-old Al Fahadi Fort, with artefacts and exhibits relating to the emirate’s trading, fishing and pearl diving history. A ride across the famous Creek in an abra (local water taxi) takes us to Deira’s intoxicating spice souq and the vast gold souq, glittering with exquisite jewellery. Then, as you enjoy a buffet dinner with selected complimentary soft drinks during an early evening dhow cruise, look out for the ancient wind towers and traditional buildings.
The morning is at leisure, perhaps to discover the ultra-modern wonders of Dubai. There are multi-million dollar island resorts reclaimed from the sea and lush golf courses reclaimed from the desert. There are more than 50 mega-malls, each housing up to 1,200 boutique shops, cinemas and restaurants. There is even a ski centre where the temperature inside and outside can vary by as much as 50˚C. Alternatively, head for the golden sands and superlative hotels of Jumeirah Beach for some well-deserved relaxation. In the afternoon, we take a desert safari across the mesmerising sand dunes by 4WD to a starlit campsite, where an Arabian-style barbecue of succulent meats and salads awaits. We return to our hotel later in the evening.
Dubai - Musandam Peninsula - Khasab
The coastal road north to Musandam takes us through some of the other United Arab Emirates - Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwan and Ras al-Khaimah - in quick succession, before we cross the border into this picturesque Omani enclave, jutting out into the Strait of Hormuz. Khasab is its principal town, built in the 17th century by the Portuguese to protect this strategically important outpost. We visit the impressive fort and nearby Wadi Tawi, home to prehistoric art and rock carvings. Our hotel for two nights is the Atana Khasab (4T) or Atana Musandam (4T).
The best perspective on this delightful peninsula of dramatic limestone mountains, starkly beautiful fjords and turquoise coastal waters is from a dhow and, after breakfast, we embark on a half day cruise. Look out for dolphins diving and splashing in our wake. Lunch, tea, coffee and water are provided, and we anchor in the vicinity of Telegraph Island where you may like to take a swim. The remainder of the day is at leisure back at the hotel.
Khasab - Barkha
Today’s transfer to Oman ‘proper’ takes us back across the Emirati border and through the southern provinces, including Fujairah. Though the journey is not arduous, Barkha makes a convenient and comfortable stopping point en route to the capital Muscat, and there is time to relax at the Al Nahda Resort and Spa (3T+), where dinner is also included.
Barkha - Muscat
After breakfast, we head down to Barkha’s beachfront fish market to watch the day’s fresh catch come in from the Arabian Sea. Then we make the short journey to the imposing Nakhl Fort, recently restored and refurbished with traditional furniture and handicrafts, and presenting splendid panoramic views from the roof-top parapet. Al Thowarah Springs, famed for its warm, mineral-rich water, makes an interesting further stop on our way to the Hotel Muscat Holiday (4T+), where the afternoon is at leisure.
Nizwa - Bahla
Today’s excursion is dominated by two of the great fortresses of Oman. In the morning, we visit Nizwa, former capital of the ancient Julanda Dynasty, for a stroll around the vibrant souq and a visit to the 17th century fort, with its dramatic round tower and studded wooden doors. In the afternoon, we continue to Bahla, a UNESCO-listed village once a centre of Sufi mysticism and noted for its Arabian pottery. Here we discover another fort, a mud-brick edifice dating back to the 12th century. Our final stop is the historic village of Al Hamra, where we visit Bait al Safa, a museum where villagers have recreated a traditional Omani house, witness the old falaj system of irrigation and taste Omani coffee and dates. We return to the hotel in the evening.
A morning sightseeing tour of Muscat takes in the Grand Mosque, another colossal and impressive place of worship, adorned with beautiful artworks and chandeliers, and bustling Muttrah souq, its narrow alleyways heady with the fragrance of sandalwood. We also visit Bait Zubair Museum, showcasing the culture and artefacts of Oman, and make photo-stops at Al Alam Palace (the official residence of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos) and the twin Portuguese forts Jalali and Mirani, standing sentinel over the harbour. Enjoy a final afternoon at leisure.
Muscat - London
Enjoy a leisurely day before we take to the water aboard a dhow, to watch the sunset as we cruise along the rugged Arabian coastline in our traditional trading vessel. We transfer to the airport for an overnight, scheduled Etihad Airways flight to London via Abu Dhabi.
Day 12 London
Arrival at London Heathrow Airport where you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.