The Sultanate of Oman is the land of the mountains and its varied landscapes make it one of the most relaxing and safest vacation destinations in the world.
A haven for an adventure traveller, whether heroic or inexperienced, the country offers an abundance of hiking trails, rock-climbing and caving.
In the 17th edition of Lonely Planet’s annual Best In Travel lists, the Sultanate of Oman won the seventh must-visit country in the world for 2022.
In a feature ‘Wadi and soul: the best hikes in Oman’, Lonely Planet lauds the country’s vibrant cultural heritage by saying that “it is deeply intertwined with the gifts of its terrain, and it permeates every travel experience here”.
For adventurists, the Australian travel magazine says, away from the cities, white-sand beaches and fishing villages along the coast, Oman’s craggy interior is truly rewarding for adventurers in hiking boots.
“The country’s stories are found everywhere you go, from the atmospheric lanes of Muttrah Souq in Muscat, where ornate khanjars (traditional daggers) and patterned kumma (headpiece worn by Omani men) showcase excellent craftsmanship and pride, to the cliffside villages of Jabal Al Akhdhar where old men in sandals expertly navigate narrow farm trails and distill rose water in silver bowls”.
Every encounter in Oman evokes a strong sense of the land, it says.
At the same time, for those tired of museums, buildings and people with all the many things to do in the capital city of Muscat, there is an option that they can take a break and hike a little to get nice views of the city.
In a feature, Wadi and soul: the best hikes in Oman, the Lonely Planet writer, identifies a network of marked and well-maintained trails which make adventure trekking in the Sultanate of Oman easy for independent (if experienced) hikers.
“While popular trails can be busy on the weekends, you might not come across other hikers for long sections of more-challenging trails. Should you get lost, Omanis are usually friendly enough to escort you back to the trail, point you in the right direction or even give you a lift”, it says.
In Muscat, short hikes are very popular thanks to their easier features. The Riyam-to-Muttrah hike is an excellent way to make the most of an afternoon while seeing the capital from a different perspective.
This easy-to-moderate route takes the hiker along what was once the only overland route between Muttrah and old Muscat. From Riyam, the old rocky trail continues up a hill via stone steps once used by villagers to bring agricultural produce, wares and goats to sell at Muttrah Souq.
The rusty pipeline along the steps is from a time when the country’s only power station was located in Riyam, fuelled by diesel oil pumped through the pipes from a ship docked in Muttrah.
This route offers fantastic views over Muttrah harbour, Riyam Park and old Muscat, with glimpses of the sea beyond. One can also find rock pools of water and some water in the wadis between November and April.
The trail leads to the ruins of an abandoned village before it descends to a wadi with steep walls, where some scrambling is required, it adds.
Still, recommends the feature writer, “trekking with a local guide means you’ll get valuable insights into Omani traditions and the way of life in remote villages”.