Discovering the snake route of barr al jissah

Oman as a country is starting to attract outdoor lovers from all over the world. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, I received dozens of inquiries from travellers from all over the world wanting to know more about the Sultanate and how to best enjoy its many natural attractions. One of the trends I’d been noticing from these travellers is their yearning for outdoor adventures.  As February was closing, I met two young gentlemen from the Netherlands who spent almost a week exploring not only wadis but the different beaches found along the coast of Sur all the way to Muscat until they joined Oman Outdoor Adventure’s camping trip in Bandar al Khairan.
I also noticed the growing interest of Bahrainis to look for outdoor adventures within the region instead of exploring somewhere else. As of late, two Bahraini visitors notified me that they are looking forward to coming back very soon to do more hikes and camps in Oman.
As one lady shared, “There’s no more need to go out of the GCC. Oman alone is filled with beautiful, breath-taking destinations and it’s too bad many of us discovered it late.”
As the hiking trend escalates, the demand for better, easier and enjoyable hiking trails has been growing each year. While there are established trails found all over the country, many hikers had been requesting for something new with a different view and different levels of difficulty.
The Sultana Trail’s popularity started to pick up and it’s one of the trails we’d been highly advocating. Now, almost every week, dozens of people venture into this spot to see the sweeping view of Yiti and the surrounding area.
I took it upon myself to always explore and create new hiking trails.
On my laptop, I created a folder I labelled, “Travel Inspirations” and these are destinations I often share with my friends. It contains photos of where I’d been and where I wanted to be.
In the early weeks of February on a weekend, my friends Majid and Issa accompanied me on a hike targeting a mountain located between Qantab and Yiti. I’d been looking forward to exploring its peaks and I’d been imagining the view from that vantage point.
The location of this peak is in the exact opposite of Shangri-La Barr al Jissah. Since it was a fresh trail, I decided to name it the Snake Route since the many turns and curves reminded me of the animal it resembles.
We started the hike at almost four in the afternoon parking our cars in a nearby clearing.
Since it was a steep slope, the beginning of the hike was quite challenging. The way peppered with rocks, pebbles and sand, it was easy to lose your footing and fall.
Midway to the climb, the breeze started to get colder. Typical of the topography within the area, there was no shade of sort for us to sit and rest.
We climb and trek several hills. The rocks loose and undependable. Helping each other navigate the way, our progress was slow but after almost an hour or so of hike, we finally reach the top.
The summit was breathtaking and the view made us forget the tiredness and fatigue we earlier felt.
From one of the vantage points, we have a clear view of the whole expanse of the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah including the popular rock with an opening located in the middle of the sea. The green of the dates and plants surrounding the property made it looked like an oasis in a rather boring landscape.
From here we realised that the place we thought we knew so well have progressed so much in but a few years.
We spent a few minutes on the summit checking out easier return routes along the way. The whole trip took us about three hours and fearing we might lose the light, we hurried back towards where we park our cars.
While the trail is mid-level in difficulty, it is something that newbie hikers can definitely do. I would suggest however to make sure that you are in good fitness level and bring water to avoid getting dehydration or fainting.
My friends and I had been constant explorers of the Yiti and the surrounding area. I still feel surprised whenever I discover something new and as I always tell my friends, I find more fulfilment when I don’t know the end destination of a journey. The reward is often better.

AHMED AL JAABRI