Jebel Akhdar, Oman

Friday

We had a delicious and diverse breakfast outside. We were the only guests who did so. The baristas were a bit confused and told us that the breakfast tables were inside. We beat the rules because it was just gorgeous to sit in the tropic garden at the pool, with birds singing around, and enjoy omelets, fruit, pancakes, and coffee. By the way, the next morning, three tables at the pool were already taken, and the waiters brought coffee without asking.

This day was planned to be relaxing and reading at the pool. It was so nice just to bathe there and read excellent books (I had The Olive Season by Carol Drinkwater and would recommend it as travel reading). We also had the Lonely Planet guidebook and Oman Off-road Explorer for reading.

It is one of the excellent reasons for making the trip by yourself that if you don’t want to do anything, you are not committed to anything except for returning to the airport. But on the other hand, you want to see as much as possible, and only yourself is responsible for the success of the trip. So, after “baking” ourselves under the hot sun for an hour, we already started to make the plans. We did not want to go for a long drive. For us, Jebel Akhdar looked like a perfect destination for the day.

We visited Jebel Akhdar (also translated as “Green Mountain”), one of the most beautiful sights we saw during our Oman trip. It is not a mountain, it is an area of the Saiq Plateau, at 2000 meters above sea level. Here the temperature is about 10 degrees lower than in Nizwa, so after heating ourselves at 36 degrees Celsius, 25 on the plateau seemed pretty cool.

Recently, a permit was required to go to Jebel Akhdar because it was a military zone. Now you need to have the travel documents with you, as there is military control before entering the plateau. There is also a rule that only cars with four-wheel-drive are allowed to enter the territory, as some of the roads are steep. Conveniently, there is a car rental at Birkat Al Mawz.

The road from the village to the plateau is excellent for cars and drivers. The drive is very scenic. On the plateau, there are many villages, one hotel, and a maze of roads and trails. It is different from the Nizwa area, which is just 30 minutes away.

Oman Off-road An explorer suggested that if you have only three hours, Diana’s checkpoint is a must-see. So we picked this as our first destination. This marvelous promontory with commanding views got its name after Princess Diana’s visit by helicopter in 1990. The terraces and villages of Al Aqur, Al-Ayn, and Ash Shirayjah are seen, and the view could not be better; it is just so gorgeous.

Al Aqur terraces

Jebel Akhdar is famed for its terrace farming, invented by the Omanis before hundreds of years. This is a living proof of the excellence achieved by Omani people in agricultural engineering, using the steep slopes of the mountain and making it farm land.

We enjoyed the terraces from Diana’s viewpoint. The place is named after Princess Diana’s visit by helicopter to the Sayq plateau in Oman.

After enjoying the view, we also drove to Al-Ayn. The drive down was steep, and the drive back up was even harder. But walking there, in the middle of the village life, was amazing. The cats, the children, the terraces – it was all just there.

After admiring the beauty of the Sayq plateau, we returned to Nizwa and decided to try another restaurant for dinner tonight. Lonely Planet suggested Al-Zuhul and we decided to go for it. The guidebook said that it is opposite the mosque and souq. We started from the wrong side of the parking slot, but as locals are very friendly, their understanding of our pronouncements directed us to the right place.

The food here was second-best (after Zaki in Sur) and the price was close to nothing-5.200 OMR (11 EUR) for dinner for four people, including fresh juices.

The trip continues to Nizwa-Muscat, Dive Center

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