Literally translated to “Green Mountain”, Jabal Akhdar is situated 2,000 metres above sea level in a unique location. The Jabal keeps its richness well hidden in a labyrinth of wadis and terraces where the cooler mountain air supports the local agriculture — pomegranates, apples, figs, apricots, pears, plums, almonds, walnuts and olive trees are just some of the crops that are known to be grown in the area.
Along with mentioned crops, more famous are the damask roses that famously grow in large strips of pink throughout the springtime during the months of April and May. Omani rose water has been famous across the region and is an integral part of the Omani household as fragrance along with its culinary and medicinal uses.
Other than its plush greenery, Jabal Akhdar is known for its rugged natural beauty, hiking trails and adventure travel including rock climbing, cave exploration and rapelling. So along with nature lovers, Jabal Akhdar’s diverse topography offers activities even for the more adventurous travellers.
For those looking for a more cultural and historical experience, the city of Nizwa offers visitors a chance to visit ancient forts, castles, mosques, traditional souqs and the famed clay pottery of Bahla.
These activities can fill up your daytime but make sure to find a high spot to watch the sun set into the horizon as the sunrise and sunsets seen at Jabal Akhdar are said to be one of the most beautiful in the world.
Visiting Jabal Akhdar
Although it is only a couple of hours away from the city of Muscat, located in the historic city of Nizwa, the Road to Jabal Akhdar is only accessible to well-maintained 4WD with a maximum of 6 people — at the checkpoint have your driver license, car insurance and ID ready.
Then the climb to Jebel Akhdar is a 45-minute steep drive to the main village. Although the road is in very good condition, it is important to be alert and has prior experience as the road is also very steep and thus poses a certain degree of risk.
For those without 4WD, renting one from a reputable company (to ensure that the car is well maintained) is an option. From many people’s experience, it’s much more financially logical to form a group and travel together. This, not only reduces your carbon footprint but at the same time makes sure that the travel expenses stay pocket-friendly.
Save on hotel stays
There is an array of hotels in Jabal Akhdar and some of them are very luxurious and thus are very expensive. If you are on a budget, your 50 OMR will not be enough for a night stay. So do one of the following:
Book from reputable and trustworthy discount sites. Although hotels can get expensive during the tourist season and over the weekends, booking in advance and keeping an eye out on various travel websites, you can be sure to grab the best deals! If you are lucky, you may be able to secure a good discount staying at one of the star hotels in the mountain.
Select a mid-range hotel instead. Create an itinerary and identify what it is you wanted to accomplish in Jabal Akhdar. For an even more budget friendly option, there are a few mid-range hotels that might fit your budget. Using the same early booking sites, it might get you an even better rate.
Or go camping. Jabal Akhdar has no camps set up but there are several places where one can set up their very own campsite and take in the full experience of living amongst the mountains as you look up into the undisturbed starry nights.
One of the best campsites is in the Jabal Akhdar Scenic Reserve also known as the acacia forest, to get here follow the road up, past the little town with the sign that directs you to a cave and the palm-tree research centre. On the right will be a small lake, after which one must take the next right exit.
Camping in the area is allowed and people can be seen with small campfires and having barbeques. Prepare for the cold night, carry warm clothes and good camping gear as in the winters the temperature can drop to as low as -5 degrees.
(Be aware: The surrounding ecosystem is fragile. Be sure to carry your own supplies like wood and fuel as to not disturb the surrounding flora and fauna.)
Things to see
During the months of April and May, be sure to find the rose gardens where the area is covered in pink blooms of the famed Damask roses.
There is a range of hiking and trekking trails and along with the famous Omani Grand Canyon which is a must visit with is magnificent topography but also its unusual trees and majestic size.
While the easier option is for a guided and paid tour, you can actually experience damask rose gardens and Grand Canyon hiking for free. This would mean a lot of research of course.
There are old villages which are still inhabited and you can walk through these as long as you don’t disturb the local population too much. Many tourists have also claimed that these warm natured locals often welcome tourists into their homes and offer them Omani coffee and traditional treats.
Jabal Akhdar has activities for everyone to enjoy, to make sure you don’t miss out on anything, be sure to stop at the visitor’s center at the checkpoint to find out about all the things to do in the area along with getting your very own map.
To have a full experience without breaking the bank, there are a lot of adventure groups that organises trip to the mountains for a minimal fee. As a clue on how you can find this groups, make sure to select the Events section of your Facebook page and browse through sections that talk about Jabal Akhdar.
You can also use Instagram and connect with like-minded individuals. The joy is always in the find. Research is free so if you do a lot of them, you’d find the right company that will allow you to travel to this beautiful place minus spending a fortune.