5 DAYS FROM $2,399
Depart home and fly overnight to Doha, Qatar
This evening, you’ll fly overnight Doha, Qatar.
A day of luxury in Qatar, the world’s richest nation!
Touch down in Qatar, a peninsula on the Persian Gulf, and you can say you’ve set foot in the world’s richest country. Qatar has the highest GDP per capita on Earth, and as you ride to our hotel in ultra-modern capital of Doha, you’ll see evidence of that wealth all around you. After settling in, your Adventure Leader will conduct a Welcome Briefing; then the balance of the day is yours to relax and enjoy dinner on your own. Our hotel offers six international dining venues on the premises.
The best of Doha: The Pearl, Museum of Islamic Art, and Souk Wasif
After breakfast, we’ll embark on a panoramic tour that introduces you to some of Doha’s most spectacular landmarks. Riding along the bayside Corniche, we’ll admire the futuristic skyline, and pause for a photo stop at the Oyster & Pearl Fountain, which commemorates the traditional Qatari pearling industry that sustained the nation before the discovery of oil. We’ll also see a latter-day expression of that heritage at The Pearl-Qatar, a stunning man-made island of luxury homes, parks, and marinas. It resembles a string of pearls and has two perfectly circular bays that embrace two pearl-like islets.
Today’s highlight will be our visit to the acclaimed Museum of Islamic Art, which boasts the world’s largest collection of art from the Muslim world (plus secular art) from across three continents. The I.M. Pei-designed building is itself is a marvel, a stunning modern take on the ancient Islamic fortress based on striking geometric designs. It is set on its own man-made island so that no other buildings may obscure the view or impact the dramatic lighting.
Cultural Discovery: From here, we’ll adjourn to the bustling Souk Wasif, a 100-year-old marketplace where you can buy anything from spices to shoes to baubles to birds. Our included lunch is at one of the souk’s many traditional eateries; the balance of the day is free until we gather for our Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
Celebrate the sport of kings: King Faisal Camel Racetrack and Al Shaqab Equestrian Center
Cultural Discovery: Today you’ll witness the “sport of sheikhs” — camel racing, when we head outside the city to the Sheikh Faisal Camel Racetrack and Equestrian Club. This is where prized camels are bred and trained to race, with little robot jockeys driving them on. We also see the Sheikh Faisal Museum, with more than 15,000 Qatari artifacts (and an antique car collection).
Next we’ll transfer to the Al Shaqab equestrian center to enjoy a delicious farm-to-table lunch at the Chef’s Garden restaurant. Afterwards, we’ll explore this beautiful modern facility where priceless royal thoroughbreds and the famed Arabian stallions are bred and trained. As handlers put these majestic animals through their paces, you’ll be moved by their grace, beauty, and speed. After journeying back into town, we’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel.
On to Muscat, Oman and our beach resort
Today we’ll fly from Doha to Muscat, the capital of Oman. The day is then free for you to relax and enjoy the facilities at our palatial hotel. Enjoy the pristine white sands of Shatti al Qurum beach, swim in the temperature-controlled pool, or relax with a cocktail at one of the many restaurants and lounges. Dinner will be at the hotel.
Oman on an epic scale: Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Mutrah Souk, and Bait Al Zubair Museum
Muscat has been an important port since the first century A.D., and its history is layered with the influences of indigenous tribes as well as the Abassid, Portuguese, Ottoman, and Persians who once ruled Oman. Today, Muscat is it is still a multicultural hub and you will get acquainted with it during our exploration, starting with the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Oman’s national mosque. Its giant prayer hall can hold 6,500 worshippers inside and another 8,000 outside. The hall is also illuminated by the world’s largest chandelier.
Cultural Discovery: Next we explore the
famous Mutrah Souk, a sprawling labyrinth of shops and arcades where you can hunt for old khanjar
daggers, silverware, Bedu jewelry, and yes, even frankincense, gold, and myrrh. More treasures await at the
private Bait Al Zubair Museum, whose collections include ethnographic artifacts, an exhibit of traditional Omani female attire, furniture, maps, and more. As we depart, we’ll pause for a photo stop outside the stately Al Alam Palace, a royal residence of the ruling Sultan Qaboos.
Cultural Discovery: If you are wondering what it’s like to live in Oman, you’ll find out this afternoon when we meet with an Omani woman who shares her perspective on family life, native customs and the changing role of women in contemporary Oman. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Coastal excursion to Seeb village and Nakhal Fort
Cultural Discovery: Today we’ll ride north of the city to explore the fishermen’s village of Seeb. Set on the Arabian Sea along a broad, park-lined corniche, Seeb offers a breezy, easygoing contrast to the modern bustle of Muscat, and is a good place to see how everyday Omanis relax.
Looping back southwards, we’ll visit Nakhal village to explore its massive fort, a structure that dates to pre-Islamic times and is built around an irregularly-shaped rock. Nakhal Fort boasts imposing watchtowers and battlements, as well as the living quarters of the ruling wali, including many antique furnishings. Take in the fort’s commanding views, then ride through the surrounding date palm plantations to observe the interesting irrigation system and hot spring that creates this lush oasis.
Cultural Discovery: Enjoy a delightful local dinner this evening at Beit Al Shams Restaurant in town.
Fly to Dubai and get acquainted with the elegant waterfront Corniche
After breakfast, we’ll fly to the city of Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates of Dubai and the region’s largest and most populous global economic hub. After settling into your hotel you’ll enjoy a panoramic tour that acquaints you with the surrounding Deira neighborhood, which is Dubai’s historic center, and the lovely waterfront promenade, the Corniche. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel, which has three award-wining restaurants among its 10 distinct eateries.
Dubai Musuem, Gold and Spice Souk, and standing atop the tallest building in the world
Today, you’ll embark on an enlightening half-day cultural tour of Dubai. The discoveries will come in waves, as you visit the Dubai Museum, Old Town, the Bastakiya quarter, Dubai Creek, the Gold and Spice Souk, and more. After lunch in a local restaurant, your afternoon will be at leisure. This evening, venture downtown for a savory dinner followed by a tour of unforgettable superlatives, including Souk Al Bahr (the largest souk in Dubai and near the top of the world rankings in this category), the world’s largest dancing fountain (even larger than at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, in fact), the world’s biggest mall, and of course, the world’s tallest buildings: Burj Khalifa.
Enjoy a thrilling 4x4 Desert Safari
Take the morning to relax or explore as you wish. This afternoon we’ll head out to the desert to enjoy an unforgettable 4x4 Desert Safari. Boarding all-terrain safari vehicles, we’ll ride into the undulating dunes, perhaps spotting Arabian oryx and gazelle, and watch as the shifting light casts shadows and colors across the sands. As dusk approaches, we’ll toast the occasion with a sundowner, then adjourn to a desert camp.
Cultural Discovery: Here you will experience your own Arabian Nights-style fantasy in a billowing tent where we enjoy a typical barbecue dinner, and are entertained by musicians, belly dancers, and a desert sky full of twinkling stars.
A morning of discovery: Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Souk Madinat, and more
On a half day tour of Dubai City, you’ll visit the Palm Jumeirah — that oft-photographed island of glitz and glamor that resembles a palm tree from above — as well as go for a ride on the monorail that runs through it. We’ll also stop to take photos at Atlantis the Palm (a famous 5-star resort here), the Dubai Marina, the Burj Al Arab, and the Souk Madinat. After a fun and active morning of discovery, you’ll have the afternoon at leisure.
This evening, another remarkable experience awaits: A visit to the Burj Khalifa. From this incomparable perch, enjoy dazzling views. Dinner is on your own in this area, and there are additional shopping opportunities in Souk Al Bahr and Mall Dubai.
Travel overland to opulent Abu Dhabi
Today after breakfast, we’ll transfer overland to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s capital city, which is also called Abu Dhabi and lies on a T-shaped island. After settling into our hotel, we’ll enjoy an orientation tour, giving us a better understanding of the city. Then, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Etihad Towers, a stunning five tower complex that is another of this region’s most impressive collection of buildings. Your afternoon is at leisure and you enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Emirates Heritage Village experience and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Cultural Discovery: It’s hard not to be impressed by Abu Dhabi’s futuristic profile, but today we’ll step back in time at the Emirates Heritage Village, which re-creates a traditional oasis town. In addition to the goat hair tents, falaj irrigation system, and campfire area, there are workshops where traditional craftsmen demonstrate their skills
After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll proceed to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most opulent in the world. Its bulbous domes may remind you of the Taj Mahal, but officials say the mosque “unites the world” because it incorporates design motifs and materials from scores of countries. The prayer hall boasts 96 marble columns inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Enjoy dinner tonight in a stunning setting: the Emirates Palace, a 7-star hotel, where we savor a delectable meal at one of the hotel’s restaurants.
Abu Dhabi community pastimes: Falcon Hospital, Al Mina Fish market, and Gateway Art initiative
Today we will visit a unique avian veterinary center, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, which treats about 6,000 of these revered raptors a year. While here, we will learn about the falcon’s importance in Emirate culture; and also learn about the other veterinary programs offered here, including a shelter for the rare Saluki breed of dogs.
From here we head to the Al Mina Fish Market, where the local color is as vivid as the mounds of wriggling blue crabs, pink shrimp, and silvery tuna. Appetites sufficiently whetted, we’ll head next door to the Al Dhafra restaurant to sample some of this supremely fresh fare.
After lunch, we’ll see the more avant-garde side of the country when we visit some of the galleries participating in the Abu Dhabi Art undefined program entitled Gateway, including entrance to the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi. This evening, savor delicious food and warm camaraderie at your Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Delve into Abu Dhabi’s many delights on your own
Enjoy a free day to do last-minute shopping, lounge at one of the hotel’s palm-fringed pools, or do some more exploring. Art lovers won’t want to miss the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, 450,000 square feet of international modern and contemporary art. If you are a luxury sports car fanatic, head to Ferrari World, a racetrack and theme park (with the world’s fastest roller coaster). Your Adventure Leader can help you with plans.
Please note: Travelers have the option of catching a late flight this evening or staying overnight, enjoying a day at leisure on Day 16, and flying home late on that day.
Depart Abu Dhabi for home, or commence optional Petra extension
Depart hotel late evening to catch flight for your return home; or continue on to Jordan for your optional post-trip extension in Petra.
The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.
The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary.