A Geology Field Trip to Oman
A small group tour led by Professor Mike Searle & Bruce Levell
Sunday 01 – Friday 13 December 2019
This tour is now fully booked. We will take 4 names on the waiting list for allocations against any cancellations.
Sightseeing arrangements, visits to geological sites may vary according to local circumstances at each place on a day to day basis. Trip scholars may decide to alter the programme where they feel it is necessary.
Professor Mike Searle
Professor Mike Searle was brought up in Oman since age 15 when his father worked for the oil company PDO (Shell). He did fieldwork for his his PhD (1980) in Oman and has spent the last 30 years working almost every year on his own research projects with students and colleagues both in Oman and the United Arab Emirates. He has been at Oxford University since 1990 and is now Professor of Earth Science and a Senior Research fellow in Worcester college. He has published more than 220 papers, co-edited 5 books, written 2 books including 'Colliding Continents' (Oxford University Press) and appeared in 5 geological programmes for the BBC, Channel 5, History channel and others on the making of Everest and other Himalayan topics. He has also carried out feldwork along the Himalaya, Karakoram, Tibet, Burma, Vietnam, Jordan, Syria and teh Aegean islands, Greece."
Professor Bruce Levell
Professor Bruce Levell first visited Oman as a young field geologist in 1981 and has been fascinated by the country's geology ever since. He was in charge of exploration in PDO, the national oil company on secondment from Shell, from 1997-2001 when he was involved in the discovery of several large oil and gas fields. Since retirement in 2013 he has returned to Oman yearly to undertake his own research in this fantastic geologic wonderland.
Muscat • Al Sawadi • Wadi Al Abyadh • Rustaq • Wadi Bani Kharus, Wadi Hajir & Wadi Mistal • Nizwa • Bahla & Wadi Nakhr • Saiq Plateau • Muscat • As Sifah • London
(Meals: B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
Sunday, 01 December
Depart from London Heathrow onboard Oman Air flight WY102 at 20:05.
Monday, 02 December
On arriving in Muscat International Airport at 07:35 you will be met by your trip scholars and drive 40 minutes to the Crowne Plaza, Qurum. We will have time at leisure until the afternoon, you will meet your fellow travellers after lunch when you leave for an orientation tour in and around Muscat sightseeing and appreciating local geological features. B D
Tuesday, 03 December
Today we will drive through the eastern part of the Oman Mountains known as the Saih Hatat and see spectacular folds and shear zones associated with the partial subduction of the Arabian continent beneath "Tethyan" oceanic crust in the Late Cretaceous. The folds include the spectacular "sheath fold " (rugby-ball shaped folds) of Wadi Mayh. Evidence for subduction to depths of tens of kilometers will be examined in some beautiful rocks: the blueschists and eclogites of A 'Sifah. These unique rocks were dragged deep into the earth's interior and then rapidly returned to the surface due to their bouyancy. On the return journey there will be a second chance to visit the souq at Muttrah at dusk: always a magical moment. B D
Wednesday, 04 December
Leaving Muscat behind, we will drive first towards Fanjah and then take the new highway through the mountains to Awabi. This road traverses across the Moho, the boundary between the oceanic crust and the mantle, a unique locality and one of special geological significance. We will check in at the Millennium Resort for two nights. B D
Thursday, 05 December
Wadi Al Abyadh / Wadi Hamil
Today’s focus is Wadi Al Abyadh or Wadi Hamil , particularly scenic valleys a short drive from Mussanahi. The name means “white wadi” and has a notable profile through the Oman Ophiolite sequence. The natural gravel surface makes for an easy walk between the pools, and the date palms offer shade.
Wadi Al Abyadh is important because of the significant and clearly visible presence of ophiolite rocks. Ophiolites have the potential to sequester huge amounts of CO2, and thus scientists are currently researching whether that natural process can be enhanced to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. B D
Friday, 06 December
Your journey today includes two important locations: Wadi Hawasina, and Rustaq.
Wadi Hawasina has incredible fold-nappe structures which are exposed beneath the ophiolite. There is an opportunity to do a short trek along a deep wadi to the historic ‘Lees’ chain’ across the boulders to reach a waterfall (named from G.M. Lees the first geologist who traversed the Oman Mountains in 1928); but even if you choose to stay still, there’s plenty to see and study.
We will reach Rustaq in the afternoon and check in at Hotel Al Shomokh for two nights, a simple local hotel with basic facilities. The city is surrounded by the Al Hajir Mountains, and the town is famous for its date plantations, a huge restored old castle and fortress, an old souq (market), and a hot spring. B D
Saturday, 07 December
Wadi Bani Kharus and Wadi Hajir
Today we will have two separate wadis to explore and study. For clarity, wadi is an Arabic word referring to a dry river valley, apart from in the rainy season when they can flood.
Wadi Bani Kharus is arguably the most beautiful of the three sites, and the recent construction of a road along the narrow gorge has finally made it accessible. There is a small fortress at the entrance, and the valley is famed for its geological interest, notably important outcrops for Proterozoic-Cambrian glacial tillite and rocks related to the Snowball Earth hypothesis.
We will return to Rustaq in the evening in time for dinner. B D
Sunday, 08 December
Today’s programme begins with a visit to Wadi Sahtan, accessed along a steep and winding road suitable only for 4x4s. The views on the drive are spectacular with excellent outcrops of the Mesozoic shelf carbonates, and some prehistoric rock art etched onto some of the boulders.
We will make a short stop at Bilad Sait, one of the most iconic mountain villages in Oman, set above terraced fields of green barley, with a spectacular backdrop of the 2000 meter high cliffs of Jebel Shams behind. We will drive across Jebel Akhdar— the Green mountain along an incredible switch-back dirt road, and then descend to Nizwa, the ancient capital of Oman, where we will spend two nights in the Golden Tulip. B D
Monday, 09 December
Bahla and Wadi Nakhr
Visit the Bahla Fort and old souq, a UNESCO World Heritage Site centred around a 13th century fortress, now wholly renovated in local style. The fort was built to guard an oasis on the lucrative frankincense trade route. A local guide will explain the site’s history, and we will also have some time to wander through Bahla’s old souq, lined with historic mud brick buildings with its narrow streets and shops selling everything including sweet halwa, silver coffee pots, camel saddles, dates and frankincense.
From Bahla we will head into the Jebel Shams Mountains to Wadi Nakhr, Oman’s own Grand Canyon. The drive up to the canyon rim at 2600 meters is arguably the most spectacular road in Arabia with incredible views along the Oman Mountains and down into the great canyon. There are small hill villages on the way where locals sell Omani sheep and goat skin rugs.
We will return to Golden Tulip Hotel in Nizwa for a second night. B D
Tuesday, 10 December
Saiq Plateau- Jebel Akhdar
Today’s primary attraction is Wadi Muaydeen, considered to be one of the most important geological sites in Oman, where geologists first worked out the entire Mesozoic stratigraphy of the shelf carbonates, that eventually led to the discovery of oil.
The journey continues across the Saiq Plateau at about 2000 meters elevation. This is one of the most fertile parts of Oman thanks to its altitude and microclimate suitable for growing cherries, grapes, peaches and pomegranates. The village of Al Ayn has ingenious ancient waterway (falaj) system for irrigating the fields, and it’s also well known for its rose water production.
We will stay for two nights at Anantara Jebel Akhdar. B D
Wednesday, 11 December
Day at leisure to enjoy the luxury of Anandata Jebel Akhdar. B D
Thursday, 12 December
Today we will drive back to Muscat, breaking the journey at the Semail Gap, where amazing views of the 2500 meter high limestone cliffs of Jebel Nakhl to the west and the jagged black mountains of the ophiolite to the east.
Arriving in Muscat we will stay overnight at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. B D
Friday, 13 December
We will depart from Muscat onboard Oman Air WY101 at 14:00 and fly directly to London Heathrow airport. B
- How to Book this Tour
- Travel Insurance
- International flights on scheduled Oman Airways in economy class inclusive all taxes.
- Accommodation with private facilities as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Meal Plan: Half Board meals throughout
- All transfers and sightseeing arrangements by private coach/vehicles as per itinerary.
- Entry fee to museums and places of interest
- Services of a local English speaking guide.
- Services of Prof. Mike Searle and and Mr Bruce Levell as trip scholars.
- Tips & gratuities for guides, drivers and hotel staff
- Full ATOL and ABTA bonding.
Cost does not include:
- Tourist Visa fee for Oman.
Travel Insurance. You can obtain a competitive price for travel insurance from
Travel & General see link to Travel Insurance
Camera/video entrance fees if applicable
- Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above
- To book this tour , please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £500.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.
- If you wish to join the tour and fly from any country other than United Kingdom please contact us for land only arrangements.
It is essential to have adequate insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.
- It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover.
- It provides cover for your whole trip (whether one day or over a year).
- It covers you for all activities.
- Disclose pre-existing medical conditions.
- Take your policy number and the 24-hour emergency contact numbers with you.
- If you are making multiple trips we recommend that you take a yearly travel insurance policy.