In all my travels I haven’t seen much of the mountains in “mainland” Oman, so when I was offered the chance to join some friends on a scouting trip to Jebel Akhdar (Green mountain) and Jebel Shams (Sunny mountain) on Saturday I jumped at the chance. We left Al Ain just after 7am, crossing over to Oman at the Mezyad border. Our host, Mr Saleh, was quite tickled by the fact that we were all from different countries – as an Emirati he only needs his ID to cross but his passengers, who all needed their passports, came from Armenia, Germany and Scotland!
It didn’t take us long to cross the relatively boring plains between Al An and Ibri and soon this sign heralded that we were well and truly in mountain country!
And they weren’t kidding….
As far as mountain roads go however, this one wasn’t too bad, at least it was “blacktop” and had crash barriers on the main hairpin bends. NB – you cannot go beyond the police post at GPS 22 57.643N 57 40.671E unless you have a 4×4 vehicle. It goes without saying that your car should be in good mechanical order, especially the brakes!
It didn’t take us long to reach our first destination – Al Ayn, high up in the Jabal Akdar area.
This area lies around 2000 metres above sea level, has much lower temperatures than the plains below and has a year-round water supply. A wide array of produce is grown here
with falaj offering not only a useful if slightly precarious walkway, but also a water supply to the terraces.
Pools form every now and then and some local boys were having great fun swimming here – if you click on the photo below you can see a young man “mid air” as he jumped into the water.
Dates are also harvested nearby; we think the container of dates on this man’s head must have weighed 15 kilos or more! He had parked his truck up at the car park and was now taking it down to a row of houses only accessible on foot – but I was pleased to see he took a barrow with him on his return journey.
Some of the buildings in Al Ayn were over 100 years old and we paused now and then to have a close look. I can never resist snapping an ornate arabic door
My camera captured this lizard has he darted over the rocks
and this washing drying caught my eye. The hat drying on the pole is a traditonal Omani Kummah.
Despite being a very small village there were two mosques, the one above and this one below which was absolutely beautiful in its simplicity and setting.
Once we were back on the road we stopped to buy some pomegranates – locally grown and much cheaper than the ones in the supermarkets here in the UAE.
We stopped further up the road where Mr Saleh negotiated to buy all the apples and pears from this stall. We think the man in the brown thobe was over 80 years old – he had heard of Buraimi (bit of Al Ain on the Omani side of the border), but not Al Ain, which is less than 3 hours away.
Part two, covering Jebel Shams to follow.
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