Thursday, February 7, 2013

A trip to Jebel Shams mountains

Oman has plenty of mountains as well as the highest mountain peak of the Arabian Peninsula, Jebel Shams, at 3.100m/10,200ft.  Situated close to its peak is the regional air traffic control radar installation.  Below the peak is Jebel Shams Canyon which reminds the traveller and hiker a little bit of the US Grand Canyon in terms of the shapes of the cliff walls. The depth from Canyon's highest edge to its bottom is about 1.200m/3,900ft.

We drove in a big SUV from Muscat via Nizwa and then up the mountain to the Jebel Shams Resort.
Most of the access road was paved in steep S-curves, but at some point it became just a dirt road cut into the rock, still steep, still curvy - not for the faint of heart.  Neither is the canyon hike, but more about this later.

It was already dark by the time we arrived at the camp and a small campfire was waiting for us outside our bedouin tent.  Staff built it up to bonfire size which kept us warm and provided coals for the barbecue.  The temperature in Muscat had been 25C (77F), and up in the mountains it was 8C (46F), so my heavy jacket was put to good use. There are places in Oman that get cold, sometimes there is even snow! 

The full moon rising over the mountains and the clear, very starry sky were amazing and ....the SILENCE so relaxing !!!  After a rustic and tasty barbecue of chicken and beef, plus hummus and green salad we went to sleep in the tents.  Two layers of blankets kept me comfortably warm in the bed.


The next morning we woke up around 8am and the simple camp canteen provided a good and hearty breakfast. By 10am we took off to the canyon, a bumpy 15min drive to one of its lower edges.  We were dropped off at an area with a few very simple stone houses inhabited by a few families that live from raising goats and selling found fossils and simple homemade crafts to hikers.


Off we went on a more than four hour hike, 
two hours each way 
and a little rest. 

The beige trail is just visible here --------->

Houses reminiscent of Mesa Verde (Colorado, US) wedged into the cliff side.
Inhabited until a generation ago.

More or less the end of the canyon, our ultimate destination:

We stopped atop these terraces, pictured at the center of the photo

A close up of those agricultural terraces -->

Notice our four-legged companion at the resting spot.  A local mountain goat hoping for a snack.

See the big boulder?  Now see the tiny people in the lower left? BIG boulder.

The view on the way back

Monday, February 4, 2013

Filling up

Filled up the car last week.
59.18 liters cost 7.1 Omani Rials.

59.18 liters = 15.63 gallons

7.1 Rials = $18.45 = €13.5 !!!