Jebel Shams (Arabic for “Sun Mountain”) is Oman’s highest mountain and has an elevation of around 3,009 meters. Situated in the heart of the Western Hajar Mountain chain, it’s one of the must-see attractions for any visitor to the country. It has spectacular views of the Al Nakhr Canyon, affectionately known as the Middle East’s Grand Canyon!
Once you get to Jebel Shams, you will be afforded plenty of photographic opportunities. It’s also the perfect place to sit down, relax and have a picnic! If you’re planning to hike the Jebel Shams soon, there are a few things that you need to know and prepare for before you do so.
Jebel Shams is accessible from Nizwa and even Muscat, although the latter can be a long drive at just over three hours! It’s possible to visit Jebel Shams and return to Nizwa or Muscat in one day, but it’s highly recommended to consider camping overnight or making use of locally-available accommodation.
Choice of hiking routes
When you head over to Jebel Shams, you can follow one of several hiking trails. The most popular ones are as follows:
- The Al Nakhur Rim hike is perhaps the most commonly selected one for those seeking an “easy” hike. It starts from the village of Al Khitayam, located right at the edge of the canyon, through the Al Nakhr Rim and to the Jebel Shams plateau;
- The Al Khitayam to Wadi Nakhr hike takes you along the western flank of the Wadi Nakhr from Al Khitayam village and is also known as the Balcony Hike.
Camping by Jebel Shams
To truly appreciate the splendor and magnificence of Jebel Shams, you should consider spending an evening camping there. Sure, there are plenty of places to stay in the area such as the Jebel Shams Resort. But, an overnight camping stay is a must for the seasoned traveler!
You will need the usual camping gear for your overnight stay (tent, sleeping bag, portable stove). You may also wish to set up a hammock if you’d prefer to relax under the stars before you sleep. Just make sure you know how to tie hammock straps or you could end up with an unfortunate fall!
The carpet sellers
One of the curious things about any trip to Jebel Shams is the array of local carpet merchants in the area! You might not know it, but weaving is a popular and profitable local industry around Jebel Shams. So, if you have a need for some striped goat-hair rugs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
The main summit
If you have plans to hike your way up to the summit, you should be aware that it’s not possible to do so. The main summit is home to a military radar and observation station, and, as such, is closed to the public.
Still, don’t let that put you off visit Jebel Shams as there’s plenty to explore and take in while you’re there! And don’t forget you can still visit the southern summit, known as Qarn al Ghamaydah.