Jebel Shams – The Grand Canyon of Oman, hiking, camping, debilitating cramp, 25 litres of water, flash flood and a sand storm!!
It’s that time of year, and Lenny is officially a WANKER (Wife Away No Kids Eating Rubbish) again. Which can mean only one thing. Boys Trip. This year, Jebel Shams in Oman was the destination. The ‘Sun Mountain’ offers some incredible views, from around 3000m up in the thinning air, down into Wadi Nakhr. ‘Hike up and camp at the top, then hike down the next day’ – great idea Lenny! This one hurt a lot!
I’m posting this mid July in the desert. The outside temperature today in Dubai is about 45 degrees celsius. So you would be quite right in thinking ‘what are these idiots doing, planning a hike in the desert, in the middle of summer?’ Well, in hindsight, you are right, we’re crazy!! In spite of ending up at 2900m it was still registering about 35 degrees celsius as we trekked higher and higher and the air got thinner and thinner. But let’s start at the beginning.
Lenny’s annual WANKERING has come around quickly this year and to say he was excited about it has got to be the understatement of the year. There were a number of Whatsapp conversations where we thought there might be a need for a change of trousers, such was his enthusiasm! In his excitement Lenny suggested we camp on the mountain too and not wanting to disappoint, Matt and I agreed! Little did we know just how heavy our rucksacks would end up being. We planned a 3 day trip and Friday morning 8.30am we met in Arabian Ranches town centre to pack the car and head towards the Al Ain border. 9pm on Sunday and 900km later we arrived back!
In between time, we had quite the adventure. We headed off in the direction of Al Ain and the border crossing into Oman – as usual the city of roundabouts confused us, albeit less than normal and with it being Ramdan
and a Friday, the border crossing was very quiet. Having budgeted an hour to get through, we had exited the UAE and entered into Oman in less than 15 minutes.Onwards! Ramadan meant
the roads were relatively quiet and the 6 hour trip went by quickly. We were staying at the Jebel Shams Resort, which is about 1900m up the mountain – the road is steep but is tarmac for most of it. There is a point though were it turns into dirt track and you will be better off with a 4×4, you can do it in a saloon car, but be careful and it will be slow. Luckily the dirt track ends further up and you are back on tarmac road again, with a viewpoint that is worth taking 10 minutes at. There are the ubiquitous rug weavers trying to sell you woven key-rings and such. The view though is phenomenal. Then you reach the Jebel Shams resort. Lenny had negotiated a very good deal for a sunset chalet for the three of us. And it’s only because he booked it, that I caved on having called shotgun on one of the proper beds. Matt called his driver card and got one. I was first in the room and should have had the other, but in fear of seeing Lenny tears I took the sofa bed! Adequate rooms with en-suite bathroom and a door out the back to the firepit and great sun set views. Be ready to fight with the ‘sliding’ door out the back. Seems all the chalet doors require some ‘gentle persuasion’ to open.
We had a couple of hours to kill so went along to the beginning of the abandoned village hike to have a look down into the wadi. It really is a breathtaking area and the temperatures a good 10 degrees cooler than Dubai, so with the wind it was very pleasant sitting in one of the ‘rest stops’ on the hike, just taking it all in. Back to the resort and time for a dip – The Jebel Shams resort has a pool, and in spite of the interesting shade of green and the huge chlorine tablets just sitting on the bottom of the pool, in we went. Refreshing and dare I say is, with the wind whipping past, a bit chilly!!! With sunset approaching we headed back to the room, and actually up on to the roof of the chalets, cameras at the ready for sunset. Awesome – only thing missing was an ice cold barley based beverage, which I forgot to pack!!
The resort was actually quite busy. Dinner was served from 7-9pm and the guys had Iftar about 7.15pm. They very kindly invited us to join them, but their need was far greater than ours and we waited for them to finish breaking their fast before tucking into the very nice buffet. With a relatively early start it wasn’t long after dinner, a brief spell outside around some of the neighbours fire’s burning bright and it was bed time. My ‘kindness’ in taking the sofa bed paid off as Lenny was boiling due to the fact that the AC blew over his bed and pretty much straight onto mine. A pleasant night’s sleep ensued! Read about Day 2 here!