It’s 32km along the twisting road from Birkat al Mawz up to the plateau – a journey of around forty minutes. Some 6km beyond Birkat al Mawz, the road up to the Saiq plateau begins to climb in earnest. There’s a police checkpoint here, and if you’re not in a 4WD you’ll be forced to turn back – a shame, given that the wide and beautifully engineered road up into the hills would be perfectly feasible in a 2WD.

From here the road begins to hairpin dramatically upwards into the hills, with huge sweeps of rocky mountainside dotted with the small, hardy shrubs and trees – butt, wild olive and the occasional stately juniper – which manage to suck a living out of the bare rock. The mountains are a study in naked geology, formed out of huge slabs of limestone which have been tilted sideways over millions of years to produce the evenly sloping mountainsides and neat right-angle summits you see today, and whose colour changes according to the light from a sere, green-grey with occasional splashes of brownish-orange – a striking contrast to the much smaller and more irregularly shaped reddish ophiolite hills below. A series of viewpoints on the road up allows you to stop and admire increasingly expansive views.

 

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Oman features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Life at the edge: wild camping in Oman

Life at the edge: wild camping in Oman

It's legal to wild camp in Oman. And, done responsibly, it's one of the most rewarding ways to take in the country's varied terrain. Fiona McAuslan pitched her …

17 May 2017 local_activity Special feature
Oman: a first-timer’s guide

Oman: a first-timer’s guide

Poised between the glitzy excess of the Emirates and the rigid conservatism of Saudi Arabia, Oman provides a winning introduction to the Middle East. Politica…

13 Dec 2016 • Andy Turner insert_drive_file Article
12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

12 of the most beautiful places in the Middle East

The Middle East is a paradox. Located at the cultural crossroads between east and west, the region nowadays tends to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, b…

16 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right