The mountains of Oman provide many wonderful opportunities for trekking. You will be impressed by the rugged scenery and the calming solitude of a land where people live much as they have done for centuries. There are breathtaking views, clear skies, dramatic canyons and gorges, and rolling, high-altitude plateaus. For the benefit of trekking enthusiasts, various mountain trails range from short, easy walks to longer treks over such difficult terrain that one can only wonder at the skills of the hardy people who pioneered these routes. Many of the trails follow centuries-old routes through the mountains and are still in use by mountain villagers (shawawi) as the only means of access to some of the more isolated settlements.

                The principal range in northern Oman is known as Al Hajar (literally meaning ‘the rock). It rises abruptly our of calm waters at the Straits of Hormuz and stretches for more than 600km in a  south-easterly direction, following the long crescent of Oman’s coastline. The range splits into the Northern, Eastern and Western Hajars, the boasts many peaks in excess of 2,000 metres. The highest peak, at just over 3,000 metres, is jabal Shams (also known as Al Qannah) in the Western Hajar. The spectacular ‘Grand Canyon of Oman’ is also in this area, and an energetic walk around the rim of the canyon offers breathtaking views and is well worth the effort.

                The Dhofar Mountains, which are near Salalah in Southern Oman, average 800-900 metres and reach a maximum height  of 2,100 metres at jabal Samhan. The range is topped by rolling plateaus and punctuated by deep wadis. The south-west monsoon, or ‘khareef’, and are consequently covered with dense woodlands, Inland, just beyond the reach of the cloud shadow, are Oman’s famous frankincense groves.

When to trek

                The best time for walking is the cooler months from October to April, during Oman’s winter season. The days are typically warm and dry, with the temperature in Muscat averaging 300C, and dropping to around 200C at night. In mountainous regions it can be much cooler, particularly at attitutes above 2,000 metres, During the day, mountain temperatures can range from 150C to 250C, and the night-time temperatures in mid-winter can fall to below freezing.

                Trekking in the mountains during the summer months (April – September) can be exhausting, with temperatures often exceeding 400C in the lower regions. But you can keep trekking all year at altitude, and even lower down, depending on the time of day and the amount of exposure to heat. Those who wish to trek during this time should take extra precautions given the extreme conditions and the high risk of heat exhaustion.

                Trekking in Dhofar during the summer Khareef season should be approached with caution given the difficult terrain created by dense fog and damp conditions. However, when the fog lifts in September the green splendor of the mountains of Dhofar is revealed in its entirely, providing trekkers with the opportunity to explore a terrain that is unique in the Arabian Pennisula.

Trekking Essentials

               Drinking sufficient quantities of water during a trek is essential to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. You will need to carry enough water for the entire trek. It may be possible to replenish water supplies along the way, particularly in villages, but this is by no means certain.

                You should drink as much water (or other liquids) as often as you like, even if it seems excessive. Thirst is not daily water requirement. The total amount of water required is dependent on the length and difficulty of the trek, the fitness level of the trekker, the elevation and, most importantly, on the temperature.
Use the table below to calculate your estimated water consumption:

                As the general guide for trekking in Oman,  assuming moderate fitness and a standard temperature of 200C or 300C, the following might apply:

Grade 1 trek for three hours
1-5 Litres
2-5 Litres
Grade 2 trek for five hours
3 Litres
5 Litres
Grade 2-3 trek for eight hours
5 Litres
9 Litres
Grade 2-3 trek for 14 hours
10 Litres
15 Litres
Camping stores and outdoor sports specialists sell a range of lightweight canteens and water containers. Alternatively, you can purchase bottled water, which is cheap and readily available in food shops and petrol stations. The plastic containers are highly durable but make sure you dispose of them properly when empty.

                If you do have the opportunity to replenish water supplies along the trek, natural water from mountain springs is usually clean and suitable for drinking, without the need for filtration or purification. If you are concerned about purity, camping stores sell inexpensive and lightweight filters that can be carried with you. 

Trekking Grades

                To help you decide which treks are suitable for you level of fitness and experience, all routes in this book have been graded from one to three, as described below. The more difficult routes do not necessarily have more interesting scenery. Rather, all of the dramatic landscapes, which might range from terraced villages to narrow wadis and steep canyons to wide mountain plateaus. For all treks there are sections of the route where particular caution should be taken to avoid accidents.

Grade One 

                These treks are relatively easy and suitable for inexperienced trekkers, for those of moderate fitness, and for those accompanied by children. Note that children should be at least ten years of age to complete the trek. There are no difficult climbs. Altitudes are below 2,000 metres, with differences of no more than 200-300 metres. Grade One treks will from 1-5 to four hours to complete

Grade Two

                These treks are more challenging, with more ascents and descents, and climbs at altitudes above 2,000 metres. They are generally longer, taking anything from four to nine hours. A good level of fitness is recommended. You will be rewarded with views from high mountain cliffs. Trekkers should preferably be experienced with Grade One routes, or else should trek with others who are experienced.

Grade Three

                These are suitable for people with a high level of fitness and previous mountain walking experience. They can reach high altitudes over long distances. They typically involve some exposure to heights, sleep climbs and scrambling. Experience with Grade Two trek routes is strongly recommended.

Trekking Starting Points

                Area and detailed maps indicate distances from well-known towns, which can be located with road maps and signs.
                Once you are on the road near your destination, look for a road sigh pointing to the beginning of a trekking path. The location of road signs is also indicated on the area maps.

Road Sign

                Follow the direction indicated on the road sign; you should arrive at the information sign, usually located near a parking area.

Information Sign

                From here it’s all walking, generally all the paths are easy to find with the yellow, white and red painted marker guides. There are sometimes also round, white markers in between the coloured markers to give directions, as well as old stone markers or cairns.

Trekking Map

                The enclosed area map shows marked trails in red. These trails are checked and verified. Other existing unmarked paths are roughly indicated according to other maps and guides, and the numbers are a reference to the Adventure Trekking in Oman guidebook. Note that these trails have not been verified. If you want to try any of these trails we strongly recommend you use a guide or walk experienced trekkers. 

Accommodation and Transport

                Hotels, guesthouses and motels are available in most regions, within close proximity to the starting point of various treks. It is advisable to book in advance, particularly during the high tourist season. There are short plans to establish mountain huts at higher altitudes and ‘bed  & breakfast’ venues in various mountain villages, so look out for signs and check information on the internet.

                There may not be reliable or regular means of transport to and from the starting point of each trek, so you should either make use of your personal vehicle or a rental car, or arrange for drop-off and collection. Public transport between major towns is available in the form of buses and ‘baisa buses’, and there are local taxi services in most towns and villages. Taxis are not metered so determine the price at the start of the journey.
Some of the main accommodation options are listed below. For further details of hotels, guest houses and car rental companies, see the Oman Explorer or the Oman Yellow Pages.

Al Buraimi
Al Buraimi Hotel****
Abha Hotel*
Al Sawadi Beach Resort****
Al Sharqiya Sands Hotel***
Nahar Tourism Oasis
Ibri Oasis***
Golden Tulip Resort****
Khasab Hotel***
Isra Hotel Apartments*
Falaj Daris Hotel****
Nizwa Hotel****
Al Jabal Al Akhdar**
Al Diyar*
Majan Guest HouseLLC
Ras Al Hadd
Ras Al Hadd Beach Hotel
Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah*****
Hilton Salalah Resort*****
Samharam Tourist Village****
Dhofar Hotel***
Haffa House Salalah***
Hamilton Plaza Hotel***
Al Hanna Hotel****
Al Wadi Hotel****
Sohar Beach Hotel****
Sur Plaza Hotel****
Sur Beach Hotel***


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