Hajar Mountains, Oman
Oman is replete with historical cities, complex cultural practices and strong traditions, but it also features vast stretches of untamed nature and fascinating landscapes, such as the rugged Hajar Mountains in northeastern part of the country. Paralleling the coastline 30-60 miles inland from the Gulf of Oman, the range separates the low coastal plain from the high desert plateau, creating spectacular scenery.
Rock climbing, canyoning and off-road exploration are just a few of the activities offered to adventurous travelers in this spectacular area. Hikes range from easy strolls through mountain villages to strenuous climbs to the top of Jebel Shams. With any luck, spot some of the region’s wildlife, such as leopards, wild goats, and the endangered Arabian tahr.
For something less physical, head to Jebel Akhdar, the fabled “Green Mountain,” a 3-hour drive from Muscat or 45 minutes from Nizwa. En route, travel through mountainous landscapes and beautiful green oases, where traditional water systems transport pure water from the highlands to the settlements. A plateau at the summit is home to mountain towns, fruit orchards, and terraced gardens. The month of March is particularly lovely when the fruit trees and roses are in full bloom.
And there is no shortage of cultural and geological sites to explore. Nizwa or Bahla forts are particularly interesting, while the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm, and Al-Ayn represent a well-preserved archeological complex from the third millennium B.C.