As some of you may know already, we are quite the offroad fanatics, freaks or however you want to call it :) Escaping the hustling and bustling city of Dubai for a (long) weekend in nature, is always something we look forward to. As we recently had the EID holiday (end of Ramadan), we decided to take the following routes as described in the Oman Off-Road Explorer book: Route 05 (Jabal Shams), Route 07 (Balcony Walk Jabal Shams), Route 04 (Wadi Damm) and Route 14 (Jabal Al Akhdar). This time of the year (summer) was perfect to go on a trip to this area. We camped at about 2,300 meters, which resulted in much cooler temperatures during the day (30 degrees Celsius instead of the 47 degrees Celsius on the ground) and also during the night (about 20 degrees Celsius). Our itinerary was as follows:
Thursday night: drive from Dubai to Oman (Jabal Shams) via the Mazyed border in Al Ain (Abu Dhabi). This turned out to be a good timing, since there were hardly any people crossing the border at that time. We arrived in the middle of the night at a campsite at 2,300 meters and slept in the trunk of the pick-up. The drive took about 6 hours since we had to drive all the way up to the mountain. Jabal Shams is the highest point in Oman (over 3,000 meters).
Friday: after a short night of sleep (a couple of times we had to scare away the goats who were trying to eat everything what we had parked underneath the car), we went for an awesome hike (Route 07 Balcony Walk) along Oman’s Grand Canyon at a height of 1,900 meters. It took us 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the return hike (including stops for views and picnic) which is about 4 km. This trek offers magnificent views down into the canyon at Wadi An Nakhur and is do-able for beginners. Please look out for the below shown flag on the photo which is painted on the rocks along the hiking route, so you won’t get lost. This hike leads to an abandoned village, natural water pool (however there is no water in summer) and caves.
After the hike we drove further through picturesque villages to the other side of the mountain called Jabal Asar’h and set up camp amongst the Juniper trees. We stayed for about two nights in a tent.
Saturday: this was our relaxing day at the campsite and we spend the day reading a book, chilling, relaxing and chatting.
Sunday: from the campsite we drove back downhill and there was a connecting route through the mountains to Wadi Damm. We undertook a relatively short wadi track (about two hours return hike) which led us to tucked-away pools and a moss and fern-fringed waterfall. Just be aware that as you are planning to do this in summer, the rocks are very hot as it’s over 40 degrees Celsius on the ground. You may want to bring some protective gloves in summer for the heat of the rocks. Moreover, keep on the right side of the wadi for the most easiest route. We found this out on our way back as we mainly stayed on the left side first which is more challenging.
During the wadi hike there is a point where you have to pull yourself up a rope in between these rocks and squeeze yourself through this narrow hole in order to continue the wadi track.
A wadi is an Arabic word referring to a dry riverbed. Wadis are generally dry year round, except after rain and except for Wadi Damm which still has water in its pools by end of June. The desert environment is characterized by sudden but infrequent heavy rainfall, which can result in flash floods. Therefore, crossing wadis when rain is expected, can be dangerous as drowning could be a result of the flash floods.
Nomadic and pastoral desert people rely on seasonal vegetation found in wadis. You will find various small secluded villages while driving towards wadi’s.
After this awesome hike we drove further towards Jabal Al Akhdar. Please note that at the bottom of this mountain you will encounter a police post. They will check your driver’s licence and registration card. If you don’t drive a 4WD car, you are not allowed to go up the mountain as the road has some quite steep ascends and descends.
At Jabal Al Akhdar we found again a very nice camping spot at 2,300 meters. We slept in the trunk and woke up to this amazing panoramic view!
These shoes have taken me for hikes in France, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New – Zealand, Oman and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, but this time they were done ;)
Monday: we explored Jabal Al Akhdar and the Sayq Plateau with its many villages. Beautiful! You can do so many hikes here through all the small villages and get an insight in traditional Omani mountain village life. After we had a coffee and tea at the Anantara Resort (wow, this hotel is built at the plateau with magnificent views on the villages and terraces downhill) we drove towards Nizwa where we spent the last (fifth) night in a hotel.
Tuesday: drive from Nizwa to Dubai (took about 4,5 hours, including border crossing and checks).
I hope this trip will excite you to go to this area in Oman :) Oman is such a pure country, it never lets you down!
PS: there is even a gasstation on Jabal Al Akhdar and shops for food and drinks.