Just over a week in Oman – with some time on the beach, shopping in the souk, road trips to Jebreel fort, Wadi Shab and a seven-hour drive over the Jebel. The Jebel drive was billed to the family as a ‘shortcut’, which it is in terms of kilometres. Our four-wheel drive just about coped with the narrow, rocky track. There were times when the track vanished from view and descended out of sight from the driver’s seat. The first time, I stopped to check that the rock had not been swept away in a landslide. As I peered down what looked like a vertical track, I saw a vehicle heading up towards us. I had to run back to our vehicle and back up out of the way.
The Jebel Akhdar, Jabal Akhdar or Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Arabic: الجبل الأخضر meaning The Green Mountain), is part of the Al Hajar Mountains range in Oman, which extends about 300 km (186 mi) northwest to southeast, between 50–100 km (31-62 mi) inland from the Gulf of Oman coast.
It is one of Oman’s most spectacular areas. The highest point, Jabal Shams (the mountain of the sun), is around 3,000 metres (around 9,800 feet) high. It is the highest point in Oman and the whole of eastern Arabia. It comprises the central section of the Al Hajar Mountains range, and is located around 150 km (93 mi) from Muscat.
The range is mostly desert, but at higher altitudes, it receives around 300 mm (12 in) of precipitation annually, moist enough to allow the growth of shrubs and trees and support agriculture. It is this that gives the mountains their ‘green’ name. Cool summers provide the visitor with fresh air surrounded by breathtaking stones.
The area is about 2 hours drive from Nizwa and is famous for its traditional rose water extraction and agricultural products, including pomegranate, apricot, peach and walnut. The Jebel is mostly inhabited by the ancient Arab tribe Bani Riyam (al Riyamy) Pop.( approx. 14,000 ). However, most descendants of the tribe are now in nearby towns such as Nizwa and Izki, and some inhabit Ibra.