Jebels of Oman (Hill tops)
“Jebel or Jebal” means mountain or hills in Arabic and by now, I wouldn’t have to detail the fact that Oman has plenty of the same. The Al Hajar Mountain which runs parallel to the Gulf of Oman, range is the highest mountain ranges in the Eastern Arabian peninsula, extending for about 500 kms from Sur (East of Oman) to Musandam (North of Oman). This spectacular mountain ranges entices adventure seekers, nature lovers and explorers with its wealth of attractions. There are numerous sites of geological, cultural and historical importance as well in the area. The temperature on top of some of the hills reaches sub-zero levels during winter and is mostly cooler than the rest of Oman by 10-20 degree celsius.
Jebel Shams (Sun Mountain)
250 Kms from Muscat
Location: Jebel Shams View Point
Route: Muscat – Rusayl – Izki – Nizwa- Tanuf – Al Hamra – Jebel Shams
Jebel Shams (meaning : Mountain of the Sun) is the highest peak in Oman’s with a height of 3009m above sea level. Jebel Shams offers stunning view of the so-called “Grand Canyon of Arabia (Wadi Ghul) as well as Wadi an Nakhur. For trekkers, there are at least two trekking trails (I have taken one with Amar, an reaching abandoned village on the footsteps of Wadi Ghul). Apart from this, there is nothing much to do, just enjoy the cooler weather and capture the beauty of the views on offer. There are quite a few view points (though none of them are designated) so feel free to explore the area and find your own view.
I had visited Jebel Shams twice during my stay in Oman and on both occasions we reached the summit at night. As we always carried our tent (capacity of 5 ppl), we never had to look out for stay options. Stay options are limited and as far as I can remember and the prominent ones are “Sunrise Resort” and “Jebel Shams Resort”. Another option would be to stay in Nizwa and make a trip to Jebel Shams as well as Jebel Akhdar the next day. Unless you are staying in the resorts, make sure to bring your own food and water, as there are no shops on top.
The last 13 kms of road approaching Jebel Shams is not paved, but is drivable with a normal 2WD car. If you drive with a digital map, then keep the destination as “Jebel Shams Resort” or the location shared above (used to be our camp site).
Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain)
175 Kms from Muscat
Route: Muscat – Rusayl – Izki – Birkat Al Mouz -Bayt Al Ridayah Fort – Jebel Akhdar
CAUTION : 4WD vehicle is mandatory
Location : Jebel Akhdar
Unlike Jebel Shams, Jebel Akhdar (‘Green Mountain’) isn’t exactly a mountain, instead its more of a plateau (Sayq Plateau) located 2000m above sea level. Compared to others, this Jebel is blessed with a climate of its own with temperatures cooler even in the height of summer and greater rainfall giving birth to a series of Wadis. A series of terraces combined with these make Jebel Akhdar ideal for growing fruits such as one of world’s best pomegranates, apricots, apples, grapes etc. and Oman’s best roses.
We visited during the month of April and reached there by night. The weather was cold, but thanks to our camp fire, we stayed warm. There are a number of stay options available on top, however as usual we stayed in our tents. The road is well paved with a numerous escape lanes (useful at the time of brake failure while descending), however a 4WD or AWD is mandatory (we went in KIA Sportage). There is a ROP (police) check post just before the climb and cars will be turned back of not meeting the 4WD/AWD criteria.
In the morning, we really didn’t know where all to explore and went to some random villages. We were told that the fruits had already been harvested and there wasn’t much to see. But in reality there are lot to see (especially farms), if you are there at the right time, with the right information.
Also, make sure you navigate to the location shared above or road leading to “Al Jabal Al Akhdhar Hotel” as Google Maps can confuse you with multiple location (some at quite a distance away from the actual place).