The Jabal Akhdar region lies in the Hajar Mountains in the north of Oman. The name Jabal Akhdar means ‘Green Mountain’, and the area is laced with terraces, orchards and rose plantations. Rising 2,000 metres above sea level, the scenery up here is extraordinary, with rugged mountain peaks, atmospheric old villages and some of the best sunsets in the Middle East.
Given that Jabal Akhdar is only around a two to three-hour drive from Muscat, and around an hour or so from Nizwa, the climate is remarkably different. Temperatures here are often 10 degrees Celsius colder than they are in the capital, and the difference can be even greater in winter. These cooler temperatures and higher rainfall (it has even been known to lightly snow), have created a fertile environment which has allowed for local agriculture to flourish. Orchards produce fruit such as apricots and pomegranates, and this region is renowned for its rose gardens, which blossom around April, with the flowers used to make the area’s famous rose water.
The cooler temperatures and mountain topography also make this a magnet for those seeking adventure. The rugged terrain provides incredible opportunities for climbing, trekking and mountain biking. Via Ferrata is becoming even more popular, and with the re-opening of the Al Hoota Caves, travellers can also explore beneath the mountains. The trekking options are diverse, with something to suit most fitness levels. Routes can venture into deep wadis, through lush oases and abandoned villages, or traverse dramatic ridges and winding mountain paths.
The Jabal Akhdar region is home to Jabal Shams, Oman’s highest mountain. The name means ‘Mountain of the Sun’, and the peak rises just over 3,000 metres above sea level. A journey up the mountain offers spectacular views down into Wadi Ghul, known as Oman’s ‘Grand Canyon’. This is definitely not an excursion for those afraid of heights, as at points the cliffs drop over 1,000 metres!