Enjoy exquisite scenery and cooler temperatures in the secluded Hajar Mountains.
Situated amongst some of Oman’s most dramatic mountain scenery, the Hajar Mountains provide an excellent base from which to explore this region and experience its rich culture. We usually set up camp within easy reach of the old capital city of Nizwa, the UNESCO listed town of Bahla and a host of spectacular mountain villages and date plantations. From here guests can discover the local geology and flora, visit some traditional mountain villages and meet plenty of local people. Romantics and keen astronomers won’t be disappointed either; the stars here are extraordinary.
As evening approaches on our first day, we climb an unmade switchback that cuts across the side of the mountains like a scar. It’s a route Nabhan, our Omani guide and driver, approaches with ease. A former rally champion, he has guided hikers, filmmakers and the adventurous across Oman for many years, and as our Land Cruiser kicks and bucks unexpectedly, he relates anecdotes from earlier trips with a wry smile and a dry sense of humour, mostly as a way of calming our nerves.
As we crest a steep slope, our camp appears below us, the only sign of humanity in a shallow-sided wadi that snakes off into the distance. There’s a safari tent for each of us, complete with its own separate shower and toilet cubicle, and an open-sided majlis and dining tent at the heart of the camp.
The enormity of the logistical effort required to get my luggage and me to a luxury camp a thousand metres above sea level only really starts to sink in when I take my first shower. As I stand with my nose peering over my shower’s canvas parapet, I notice that each tent stands in its own patch of perfectly cleared sand, no easy feat in a wadi whose floor is peppered with potentially bone-breaking boulders and stones. As my eyes start to focus on the camp’s finer details, it seems that the tents – which colour coordinate perfectly with the Hajar’s mottled geology – have been chosen specifically to compliment the landscape. It’s a notion I dismiss as fanciful until I realise we’ll stay in a different tent each night, each with its own character that goes some way to defining the camping experience…. Nick Leech, The National.
On day one we head out of Muscat after breakfast, travelling along the Al Batinah coast before turning inland to Nakhal Fort, above the old village of Nakhal and near the hot springs of Ain a’Thawwarah. From here we move on towards Rustaq and into the entrance of the exposed and impressive valley: Wadi Bani Auf. This route, which takes us up some 2000 metres over the Hajar Mountains via some extraordinarily rugged mountain scenery and through small jebel villages, remains one of the most iconic off-road drives in Oman. Along the way we’ll stop at the beautiful mountain village of Balad Sayt for a delicious lunch and optional hike for those who are feeling energetic. Next we’ll continue up over the spine of the Hajar past breathtaking views before gradually winding our way along the gravel tracks down to our mountain camp, situated some 1000 metres above sea level near the town of Tanuf.
Whilst we are happy to organise two-night trips from Muscat to the mountains, for those wishing to get a deeper insight into the beauty of Oman we recommend including both the Hajar mountains and the Wahiba Sands desert as well as some parts of the coast if time permits. Here are some sample itineraries: