Monday, 26 October 2015

Oman: inland

We headed inland to the historic town of Nizwa, our base for the next few days, making a brief incursion into Wahiba (aka Sharqiya) Sands, a desert region covering 12,500 square kilometres.

Wahiba Sands

The next day we headed into the Al Hajar Mountains, which separate the low coastal plain of Oman from the high desert plateau and are home to Jebel Shams, the highest mountain of the country at 3009m.

if you look closely you can see the old abandoned houses
in the Hajar mountain range

in the Hajar mountain range

Jebel Shams has two summits: North (3009m) and South (2997m). The North Summit is occupied by a military base and is a restricted area.

Jebel Shams, Oman's highest mountain (3009m)

Alongside Jebel Shams is Wadi Ghul, Oman's spectacularly deep answer to the Grand Canyon.

Wadi Ghul

goat standing near the edge of Wadi Ghul

goat in a tree

On our way back we headed to Misfat, a picturesque mountain village.


traditional irrigation system ('aflaj') in Misfat

in this photo you can see the old and new villages of Misfat

Misfat is unusual in that the date trees are planted on terraces.

terraced date palms

Misfat as the sun starts to set

The next day we visited Bahla Fort, one of four historic fortresses situated at the foot of the Djebel Akhdar highlands in Oman.

Bahla Fort

The Fort has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1987. The ruins of the fort are a remarkable example of this type of fortification, and attest to the power of the Banu Nebhan, the dominant tribe in the area from the 12th to the end of the 15th century.
Bahla Fort

The walls and towers are made of unbaked brick and the foundations are of stone. 

Bahla Fort

Bahla Fort

Bahla Fort

Bahla Fort is also home to lots of bats

We then headed to the plateau of Jebel Akhdar, at 2000m above sea level.

Jebel Akhdar

In the village of Al Ayn they grow roses and make rosewater.

Al Ayn

In the village of Ar Rus, which only has 13 houses, we were very hospitably offered dates and qahwa (local coffee).

Ar Rus

feral donkey (one of many in Oman)

sunset at Jebel Akdar

To return to the coast and Muscat, we took the mountain road via Hatt and Wadi Bani Awf. 

mountain road via Hatt and Wadi Bani Awf

This is a spectacular if somewhat hair-raising drive and we were the only people driving our own car - all the other tourists we saw had drivers!

mountain road via Hatt and Wadi Bani Awf

The mountain part of the drive is only about 70km long, but it can take several hours to drive, and a 4WD is essential.

mountain road via Hatt and Wadi Bani Awf

Nakhal Fort

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