A Day trip to Jebal Akhdar
Although the city of Muscat has many interesting areas to explore and beautiful sights to see, a day trip out of the city is a wonderful way to experience more of Oman. There are many options for these types of trips (See 3 day trips from Muscat blog), but if you crave mountain views and freely exploring village ruins, this specific day trip is the one for you.
Jebal Akhdar, translated ‘Green Mountain’, is has one of the highest peaks in all of Oman, but also is the most easily accessible. A four-wheel drive vehicle is required (there is a checkpoint at the bottom to ensure all vehicles that enter are capable of the climb), but drivers with little mountain-road experience need not be scared away; the entirety of the way is a wide, paved road lined with sturdy guard rails. The two-hour drive from Muscat to the base of Jebal Akhdar winds through the northern mountain range of Oman and will give you an opportunity to catch a glimpse of many small, Omani villages.
On your way up the mountain, be sure to stop at a few of the many lookout points to take in the extraordinary views. The small village of Sayq is a great place to enjoy a coffee break or lunch at the famous Anantara resort. Their Al Maisan restaurant (Anantara.com) serves a wide variety of cuisine and their dining room extends to an open-air terrace with spectacular canyon views.
Once you are finished with your relaxing break at the Anantara Resort, continue down the main road of Sayq which will lead you to Wadi Bani Habib. Oman has hundreds of wadis, valleys, but this one is unique because of the two abandoned villages that sit on the faces of side-by-side mountains. Park at the top and begin your decent into the valley using the winding staircase built into the rocks. At the bottom of the stairs, continue across the valley and follow the wall until you find an opening. From there, you can begin your adventurous exploring of the two villages abandoned nearly two decades ago. Climb over the ruins, take pictures with rustic metal doors, and imagine the life the villagers lived. The staircase to the second village is a bit tricky to find, but if you follow the black water pipe running along the valley, you are sure to find the way up.
After your exploring is complete, return to your vehicle and continue to climb the mountain by following signs for Alila Resort, which is at the peak of Jebal Akhdar. This five-star resort has a fantastic restaurant for your next snack or meal. The views from the balcony of the Alila of the rocky terrain, deep canyons, and steep cliffs are truly breathtaking.
Take it slow on your way down the mountain and before long you will be back in Muscat with another incredible day in Oman in the books.