Oman’s Mighty Mountains

IMG_6620The view was breathtaking. Wisps of clouds drifted in a gigantic canyon sliced through walls of jagged rock. We had paid extra for this room with a view at Oman’s Al Jabal Al Akhdar resort. It was worth the expense. During our three-day stay at this mountain retreat, I was seduced by the dramatic, ever-changing view. I took far too many photos

IMG_7019Oman’s mountains are not like mountains I have known. These craggy, rugged walls of rock in all shades of brown are intimidating. No wonder they are popular with extreme adventure seekers.

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Our resort offers “the ultimate Jabal Activity Wall: Use your hands and a series of strategically placed metal steps to trace your way along the vertical rock face before navigating jagged rock formations, ladders and vertical stairs. Below a vast canyon plunges to 1,000 meters at its deepest point, providing you with a front row seat as you soak in the peaceful silence.” At the end of the climb, you zip line, “fly through the air for the ultimate adrenaline rush.”

Maybe, only maybe, back in my much younger, wild and crazy days, I would have attempted this challenge. During our January visit, I was happy to soak in the peaceful silence from our room’s balcony. Just pondering that canyon gave me an adrenaline rush.

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Native plants and herbs surround the resort buildings,

The Al Jabal Al Akhdar perched at above 2,000 meters in the Al Hajar mountain range is supposedly the second highest elevation resort in Arabia. In addition to the above IMG_6670adventure, all types of mountain hikes are available in the area. Most were beyond us. However, we did set out on a hike rated “easy,” only to turn back after about an hour. The trails, like the surroundings, are rocky. There are sections of steps, uneven, sometimes broken. We stopped at a clearing for photos. Two women with a guide were there. One of the women, far younger and no doubt fitter than I, fell. This made me nervous, nonetheless we continued on a bit until we came to a fairly steep descent which led to a dry creek bed – more rocks of all sizes. The trail on the other side climbed to an ancient village. We decided the view of the village from afar was enough.

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The hike did offer more outstanding views of distant mountainside villages and terraced slopes. Jabal Akhdar is known as “Green Mountain.” Native trees and herbs once thrived in lofty orchards there thanks to the falaj irrigation system, rivulets coming from a stone cistern at the top of the mountain. Climate change has meant much less rain during the past ten years. Many of the terraces are barren of crops. Instead of pears walnuts, apricots, peaches, plums, figs, and apples, farmers are now planting olive trees which require much less water. A pipeline carrying desalinated seawater up the mountains is beginning to allow farmers to cultivate the terraces with other crops once again.

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I planned our trip so that we could be in the mountains on a Friday and attend the weekly goat market in Nizwa, Oman’s old capital. It was wonderful, although there seemed to be as many tourists with cameras as farmers selling goats.

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The vendors touted the merits of their beasts. Prospective buyers checked out the animals and did some serious price negotiating. Everyone took photos. The goats, many gorgeous varieties and mothers with babies, were irresistible. IMG_6734

Guide/driver Lotfi led us to Nizwa’s souk where we learned all about dates. Some 250 varieties of date palm are cultivated in Oman, and at least 12 different kinds of dates. We tasted several.

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The ginger and cinnamon dates were my favorites.

Handmade Omani daggers are the de rigueur Oman souvenir, but not for us. At a shop in the souk, I found some interesting old silver jewelry – not from Oman, but Afghanistan. – my souvenir.

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Date palms thrive in Oman,

From the mid 8th to the mid 12th century, Nizwa served intermittently as the country’s capital for a succession of Imams. The Nizwa fort, a citadel of monumental proportions, provided a safe haven in dangerous times. Dark and narrow passageways lead to the citadel. During a visit, we learned about the ingenuous traps to catch invaders off guard. Planks were placed on stairs over deep, gaping pits, many filled with hot oil. When the intruder alarm was sounded, the planks were removed.

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Nizwa Fort

Salim was our trusty driver for our thrilling off-road adventure from the mountains to the coast. He negotiated narrow, rutted, dirt roads on the edges of vast precipices in the midst of jaw-dropping scenery. I kept wanting him to stop so I could take more photos. It was too risky. Occasionally an oncoming vehicle approached. This was another adrenaline rush. It looked impossible, but Salim skillfully maneuvered the Toyota 4WD and kept us from plunging off the edge.

IMG_7078During the long drive, we talked – about his life, family, job and more. He taught me lots about the way of life in Oman and Islam. (see previous post, “Introducing Awesome Oman” ) The religion has been given a bad rap in many parts of the world.  I gained respect and a better understanding of Islam thanks to Salim.

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Salim and Bob

Our Oman trip began and ended at the beach.  I’ll write about that soon, as well as the capital city, Muscat.  Stay tuned.  If not a Tales and Travel follower, please sign up, upper right.  Your address is kept private and never shared.

I added a new recipe for Today’s Taste:  Smashed Carrots with Feta and Mint. See Today’s Taste 

Keep scrolling for more photos.

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Infinity pool at Al Jabal.  The viewing platform marks Diana’s Point where the Princess of Wales and Prince Charles spent six hours on a day trip in 1986.

 

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During a refreshment stop with Lotfi, we followed his recommendation and tried a refreshing drink: lemon juice with lots of mint and crushed ice. I will make a batch soon. Delicious

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Comments are welcome and appreciated.  I love feedback.  Click below then scroll way down and add your thoughts.

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20 thoughts on “Oman’s Mighty Mountains”

    1. I just read about your exciting camping trip in Oman. Your photos are beautiful. For the young and fit, camping is surely the way to go. Those days are over for us. But, we still were overwhelmed with Oman. Thanks for becoming a follower of talesandtravel.com

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great Blog entry. I can’t believe you and Bob did not zip line across the canyon – how disappopinting.. Now that I’m 71 I am planning to zip line in all 7 continents while I still can; its at the top of my bucket list! Great photos! I really like the one of Lotfi with his Slurppy. I ‘d love to see this country. I had a similar experience learning firsthand about Islam in Bangladesh – so tragic we need to demonize other cultures and their beliefs. The brief mention on the effects of Climate Change was welcome. Travelers should be noting its effects, and in the case of these mountain people whose subsistence is finely tuned to their arid environment, climate change will have devastating effects.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dr. Steve, for this profound comment, If we go back to Oman — I would love to — zip line will be a must. I also had a long conversation about Islam with a Kashmiri in Oman, as well as a shopkeeper in Kashmir several years ago. All were such kind and gentle folk. The guy in Oman gave me a copy of the Koran which I may just read, It grieves me to see how they have been and continue to be persecuted. Climate change — Oman is way out in front in protecting the environment. It is an amazing country,

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  2. I just took my afternoon tea break with your blog and amazing photos. I would have loved to be on this trip with you. The views of the mountainside villages and terraced slopes are like nothing I have ever seen before. And the goats are adorable — remember the ones we had at the farm? You and Bob were so fortunate that you got in and out of Oman at the right time. Thanks for sharing. I’m off to try the smashed carrots.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was indeed a great trip and a real stroke of luck that we made it before the onslaught of Covid-19. Wish you could have been with us. I can’t remember goats at the farm — horses, cats, dogs and sheep…and rabbits I think. But, I loved the Oman goats,,,and the camels from the desert. Thanks for your comment. I hope you liked the carrots.

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  3. Leah, stunning, just stunning.
    I could look at those mountains all day.
    As, ever, I am very envious od your wonderful travels.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks very much Leah for posting your interesting article on Oman. The pictures are wonderful! It is so nice to read and see something positive and joyful during this trying time of virus lock-down.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Gorgeous photos and interesting commentary, Leah. Another adventure for you two, complete with rocky hiking trails and a scary car ride. Maybe the cute goats, the infinity pool, and the mint lemonade were antidotes to this wildness……

    Glad I am able to visit Oman through your eyes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I kind of choked up looking at your pics. Ancient villages, goat markets, hikes through the countryside. So much! We have loved these types of trips dearly. Afraid they are now just memories for us. I hope these places will be safe. The world is in trouble. Glad Bob and I could see what we saw, and experienced the many cultures. We were blessed to meet people and learn so much. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You and Bob do have many memories, Treasure them as we do,. But, don’t give up. It will be a different world, but let’s hope there will be trips in the future. The people and the learning — the best part.

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  6. The views, the date palms, the terraces, the goats, the faces! You’ve made me fall in love with Oman! Your photos are superb. Thank you for giving me this window-with-a-view onto a stunning new world.

    Liked by 2 people

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