Oman – Jebel Shams canyon & balcony walk
The village walk on day 1 and the two mountain hikes we have linked together for day 2 will take you through some of the most spectacular scenery in Oman. The only downside that we wish to make very clear is the long journey. Please take note of the times in the program below.
We will leave Dubai at 6-00am and drive together in convoy. Our route will take us along the E66 to Al Ain where we will cross the border into Oman at the Mezayed border crossing. We will continue into Oman for a further 3 hours so a total of six hours travel assuming a smooth passage through the border.
Documents and fees
You will need your passport. Most nationalities can get an Oman entry stamp at the border but be sure to check if you have any doubt. If you have a UAE residents visa the fees are about AED30 but may be subject to change at any time, so don’t shoot us if this changes. If you have only a tourist visa the fee is about AED200. You will also need you car registration car and Oman insurance (usually about AED100 for 10 ten days third party cover). Insurance may be available at the border not always so be sure to get it before leaving Dubai.
We will arrive at the village of Misfat Al Abriyyin at about midday. The village is the start point for Walk 9 as detailed in the Oman Trekking Guide. Misfat is a traditional Omani village or small town perked on the side of small canyon with steep cliffs. We will enjoy an hour or so wondering around the village where the fascinating architecture and way of life can be studied at close quarters. For those wishing to stretch their legs a little further we can explore the first part of walk 9, however we will want to save our legs for day 2.
A further 50km drive will take us up the mountain road to our camp at 1900m. The campsite has a number of stone huts and fixed tents. Each has a very basic showeroom and toilet, comfortable beds with sheets and blankets but we advise you also bring a sleeping bag. The huts are basic but clean and save a lot of time and hassle with tents allowing the maximum time for hiking which is the main objective for the weekend. Cost is AED200 per hut and is included in our price based on two sharing.
We will provide BBQ coals, grills, plates, cups and hot drinks. Please bring your own food for Lunch day 1 & 2, Evening meal suitable to BBQ or heat quickly on a gas burner (we will provide burners for the group to share), Breakfast for day 2. You may also want a second lunch for day 2 after we finish the hike. Please bring plenty of food and don’t forget anything there is absolutely nowhere to buy anything.
After an early evening communal BBQ we get an early night to be up early for the main event on day 2.
After a quick 5-00am breakfast, will leave one car at camp and take the other cars 35km back down the mountain road, dropping on off at Al Khitayam on the way. Al Khityam is the junction of Walks W6a & W6 leaving a car here will us options later in the day.
We start our hike from the village of Wadi Ghul at 750m, our route starts by weaving through an abandoned walled town and continues to rise above Wadi Ghul following the left hand side of what becomes a spectacular canyon. Over the next five or so hours we gain 1150m finally arriving at Al Khityam (1900m) where we dropped of the first car. From here we have 3 choices.
For those with tired legs a 5km drive takes us back to our campsite. However the next hour and a quarter takes us along what is known as the balcony walk, a flat spectacular walk (W6) high above the canyon. The trail leads to an ancient village built into the overhanging cliff face. The village was easily defended being built in a strategic position at the end of the canyon with a good water source and watch tower. What appears to be a dead end at the end of the canyon necitates further choices on how to proceed with our hike.
A step path leading up towards the apparently unscalable cliffs above the village leads to what is known as the old sticks route. A rock climb up steep cliffs assisted by the construction of rough wooden steps and sticks wedged into the cracks of the cliffs to provide the villages extra footholds to scale the cliffs. Evidence of the old sticks route can be clearly seen, however a modern day via ferrata has been installed adjacent to the old route and provides an easier and less risky route to the top. To climb the via ferrata you need basic climbing skills, a good head for heights and specialist equipment (that we can provide). For those who prefer to remain on level ground the alternative is to retrace your steps back to Al Khityam and drive up to the camp.
We should be back in camp by 3-00pm for a quick shower and coffee before starting our six hour drive back to Dubai.