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Jebel Shams

jebel shams
Yesterday we drove up Jebel Shams, which, at 3000m is the highest mountain in Oman and it's 'Grand Canyon'. On the way up, however, we took a wrong turning and ended up at the gate to a military base. We were just turning the 4wd around when suddenly a crazed looking soldier rushed out of a hut with a panicked look on his face and a machine gun, pointed it at us with his finger on the trigger and motioned to us that we should leave immediately or else be shot. Realising that he wasn't going to invite us in for a cup of tea and give us directions, we took the hint and left feeling a little bit shaken.

After a bit more driving on dirt tracks we came to the top where you can look straight down 1km into the huge canyon of Bir Dakhiliyah that splits through the mountain. The view was incredible and we sat on the edge in the cool, thin mountain air marvelling at it. Out of nowhere some women and children appeared. They were Shuwawis, local mountain people who live in isolated villages keeping goats and making carpets. They persuaded us to buy a rug and invited us back to their village to drink coffee. We sat down under a tree on a carpet with an old man, a younger man, six children and some women spinnning wool. They brought out a bowl of Omani dates and a pot and poured us small cups of cardoman flavoured coffee. Goats were wandering around continually trying to join the meal, and the younger man had to repeatedly chase them away. A goat skin was still hanging on the tree drying above us. We finished our coffee, thanked them, and drove back down the mountain.


I was up there in 1985. At that time there was no road to the top (is there now?) and it was a 4 hour hike (as I recall), but well worth it. we all got horribly sun burned! I always fancied flying a hang glider from the top, but never got round to it!

I would like to do some hiking on Jebel Shams/Aktar. Are there any maps available as to starting points, duration of hikes, routes etc.?

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