Oman’s high season starts in November, when the temperatures are cooler; the high season lasts until March. The Muscat Festival that starts in mid-January brings plenty of colour and vibrancy to the city, so you may want to time your visit to coincide with that. The warmer months are April and May. Although, the higher altitudes of the trekking trails should negate the heat.
Perhaps, due to Western depictions of the Middle East, we often perceive the region as arid, dry and very dusty. Or, people on camels with big sand dunes as the backdrop, ala Lawrence of Arabia. However, seasoned travellers will tell you that the Middle East is a geographically fascinating place that offers plenty of adventure. Take Oman, for instance. The spectacular mountain ranges offer an awe-inspiring and engaging trekking experience for the intrepid adventurer.
The country is situated on the Arabian Peninsula, with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen on its eastern border. Muscat, the port capital city, is a haven for sports sailing. It has held many world class regattas, with the Extreme Sailing Series and America’s Cup being some of the more prominent ones.
Obviously, the hiking trails are further inland. For one, the Al Hajar Mountains are located north of the country and they have the highest mountain ranges in Oman. The terrain is extremely varied and offers plenty of options. Apart from trekking, adventurers can choose to explore the mountain ranges on 4WD vehicles, rocking climbing or canyoning. Along the way, you’ll be greeted by numerous archaeological and cultural sites. The nomadic nature of the native Omanis results in the many abandoned villages in and around the mountains.
The tourism authority has made it easier for visitors to explore the mountain ranges by clearly marking out the trails and grading them by difficulty. Some of the popular ones are along Jabal Akhdar, or Green Mountain.
Those of you who follow competitive cycling would be familiar with Green Mountain, as it is one of the stages of the Tour of Oman. Its Mediterranean climate and flora makes it inviting for trekkers.
It’s not called Green Mountain for nothing; shrubs, trees and agriculture are prevalent at the higher altitudes. Some of the produce include apricots, figs, grapes, apples and pears. Some say, the Omani pomegranate, with its light colour, soft seeds and sweet taste, is one of the best in the world.
In any case, the greenery in Green Mountain will surely liven up your treks up and down the mountain range. Notable sights include the abandoned village of Sirab, the inspiration behind the design of luxury resort, Alila Jabal Akhdar. Similar to Sirab, Alila Jabal Akhdar is characterised by the stoned walls that are both aesthetically pleasing and helps to protect its inhabitants against the elements.
There’s also Wadi Tallah, a freshwater valley offering a cool respite as well as Ali’s Cave, a 60m deep pothole featuring breathtaking geological formations. The more adventurous folks can opt for a trek to Al Khutaymi, a hidden village that is accessible by manoeuvring down a via ferrata (iron road). Written guides proclaim that the village has the best swimming pool in Green Mountain, perhaps, due to the exclusiveness of the location.
In any case, the sights dotting the trails in Green Mountain will surely make you go “oh man!” in Oman.
Visas and currency
Singaporeans can apply for a visa on arrival. 1 Singapore dollar gives you approximately 0.26 Omani Riais.