Featuring: THE GREEN MOUNTAIN – AL JABAL AL AKHDAR Conquering The Sayq Plateau or the “High Country of Oman” within the Al Jabal Al Akhdar Mountain Range.
High Altitude Picnic at the plains of Sayq Plateau
Staying in Oman for the most part of my life in the last 6 years has given me enough reason to be an outdoor person.During off days from work as an expat, my activities evolve around simply by spending time mostly in the flatlands frolicking in the wide expanse of the (Gulf of Oman) coast swimming , fishing , crab hunting, or enjoying watersports. For me it was the only recreational diversion I could think of to counter the sweltering heat during the summer months. Though I’ve been hearing enough of the mountain ranges towering at great heights that some have visited, it just did not sink in my mind to even think about ever trekking a towering plateau.
For one , I’ve grew up in a high-altitude cold city in the north of the country of my birth at 5,000 ft above sea level and grew accustomed to the road travel going down and up thru a 33-km treacherous and winding road that has gone thru many mishaps and accidents but to ever attempt climbing to even higher at about 10,000 ft just to cool off never really, really crossed my mind . Not until I met a US couple who were so enamored with wild life adventure and long trips within the interior or outskirts of Oman.
They were a huge influence to me about exploring the great places that are already within the vicinities – the wadis, the falajs, forts, and of course the jabals. Yes Jabals or simply mountains. There would be plenty of them in Oman some small some big. So, that when the opportunity came on one Friday morning church service I attended, a voice blurted from the microphone out of the pulpit and an announcement is being made about an upcoming activity. It did not take long for me to decide to join a scheduled picnic that would take place—yes! at one of the great mountaintops in Oman that was most often talked about -Al Jabal Al Akhdar, otherwise referred to as The Green Mountain.
Incidentally, this mountain range reminds me of another Green Mountain that I visited in the Northern African country of Libya way way back in 1997 while working as an expat and doing writing on the side for a Philippine community paper as a columnist.
But just to remind those who don’t know yet, there is that documented highest point indeed within this Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountain range that is not part of our itinerary, the Jabal Shams otherwise called “the mountain of the sun”, rising to a staggering 3,000 metres (around 9,800 feet) high.The highest point in Oman and the whole of eastern Arabian Peninsula. I’d love to explore this giant mount someday.
If ever there is the opportunity to unwind from rigorous work activity, what better way to schedule a trip than to do it on summer! Bravo…I was one of those eager to go and was among the early registrants.Our close friends came along and so with my family. The date: April 13,2012. It was a humid day in Muscat.Perfect day for the trip.I was told that 2-wheeled sedan cars are not allowed because of the daring uphill blind curves and bumpy roads near the end which any SUV would have little trouble to negotiate the climbs. So I parked my Nissan Tiida sedan car , and boarded one of the SUVs available – a 2.7L Toyota Fortuner.Ten SUVs were deployed.We assembled from the churchyard and at long last, all SUVs revved up together one after the other with their wide-grinning passengers.All powerful engines roared off the road and sped up the whole route for the next 3 hours on a motorcade scene … to this ideallic place.
What seems to be peculiar about this towering mountain, also known in the monicker High Country (of Oman), if anyone were to be surprised is that, this part of Jabal Al Akhdar we wanted to trek was on a plateau, which is unlike any mountain with pointed tops but on a vast expanse of barren wasteland and arid surface called the Sayq Plateau. I took note of some stoney surfaces and arid land jotted with junipers and other wild plants providing ideal grounds for relaxation and walking or overnight camping for backpackers, trekkers, hikers and campers.
The cold environment also allow a number of villages about 30 or so of them to enjoy fresh mountain air the whole year round. I am particularly wary about the settlers, mainly the villagers who live here and who will use the road that link Jabal to the outside world.
Perhaps it is safe to say that they are used to travelling the mountain slopes, treacherous as ever, with sharp bends and very steep at some points. The plateau is home to isolated villages whose people live amongst the rocky peaks. These same peaks provide the traveller with opportunities for walking and trekking, wildlife spotting, canyoning, exploration by 4WD, stunning views and an opportunity to meet local people.
Noticeable on the day we travelled are other trekkers as well also in SUVs and 4WDs.The expat community of white people are some of the avid climbers to the Green Mountain but there are also a mix of different nationalities who enjoy climbing this mountain.It just makes me wonder why the place have not blossomed into a big city in a high place just like the mile high city of Denver in the US or the summer capital of the Philippines in Baguio City, both of which straddle into a mountain top about 5,000 ft or so in altitude.
As I have come to know,Sayq Plateau is a large, over 2000M plus high limestone plateau located on the Western Hajar Mountains in Oman, forming part of the coastal mountain ranges. It is part of Al Jabal Al Akhdar. Cool summer is enjoyed by the would be visitor with fresh air surrounded by breathtaking stones.
With a temperature which is much cooler, at 15-20 degrees Celsius less than on the coast, it is therefore not surprising for any backpacker to experience the coolness of the area that serves as a perfect hideaway to escape the summer heat.
Mountain trekking in Oman in the mist and rain, on the over 2000M Sayq plateau with its gargantuan canyons offers any adventurist a full package of worthwhile pleasure and alluring travel. A travel freak myself, whether in the mountains or the forest or the desert, it has been always my passion taking nice shots on the places I tread upon and explore.
Please join me as I take you for a ride to the 3 phases of the trek we did:
- The thrilling ride towards the summit.
- The Village Walk (our own short version ending at the Rose Garden)
- Reel time view of Princess Diana’s Peak
Short Overview of Our 1-day Jaunt to the Mountains :
1.Climb to the Summit
2.Engaging in Village Walk
3. Breathtaking View @ Princess Diana’s Viewpoint