Al Wusta Wildlife Reserve

Al Wusta

In the middle of a spectacular desert escarpment, this reserve is home to a small herd of reintroduced oryx. It offers a rare chance to see this magnificent desert antelope up close as there is a large herd of over 600 animals in the reserve's breeding centre. The reserve, access to which is by 4WD with prior permit only, is 50km off the Haima–Duqm road (Hwy 37) on a poorly graded track marked 'Habab', 110km from Haima. After 23km along the track, veer right.

Visitors, who must make their own way to the reserve, are welcome – but permission has to be gained in advance from the Office for Conservation of the Environment. A guided tour, usually by a retired ranger and member of the Harasis tribe, is the only way to visit the reserve although you can visit the portacabin information centre and captive oryx herd for free. The guides often don't speak English and act as navigators only.

A full day's tour includes the remarkable windblown formations of the Huqf Escarpment, deep in the reserve, and there is an increasing chance, thanks to intense conservation efforts, of spotting gazelles, hares, ibex or even one of the oyrx that live outside the enclosure.

Wild camping with your own equipment outside the reserve is the only accommodation at present, and you need to bring all your own supplies of food and water. Keep clothes under canvas as there is always a heavy dew by the morning – this is how the animals survive in the absence of surface water.