The Western Hajar boasts virtually limitless trekking possibilities, with spectacular mountain scenery and a well-established network of trails – many of them along old donkey tracks through the mountains. Many of these paths have now been officially recognized as public trekking routes by the Oman government; some have been waymarked with yellow, white and red flags painted onto rocks en route to assist with route-finding, although you may still prefer to enlist the services of a specialist guide to make sure you don’t get lost in what is often inhospitable terrain. The high altitude of many of the treks means that temperatures are pleasantly temperate, although it’s wise not to underestimate the possible challenges of even relatively short hikes. Carry ample supplies of water and warm waterproof clothing at all times – weather conditions can change with spectacular suddenness up in the jebel.
For an excellent overview of some of the most rewarding routes, pick up a copy of Oman Trekking, published by Explorer, which details some of the country’s finest hikes, including ten in the Western Hajar, and one through Wadi Tiwi in Sharqiya. Unfortunately, virtually all the treks are linear rather than circular, meaning that you’ll either have to retrace your steps or arrange for transport to collect you at the end of the walk. The following are the best of the Western Hajar routes.
Around Jebel Shams and Wadi Nakhr
Route W4: Al Qannah Plateau to Jebel Shams
(9.5km; 5–6hr one-way). This extended and challenging hike follows the sheer cliffs ringing the top of Wadi Nakhr (Oman’s “Grand Canyon”) to the summit of the country’s highest mountain, with views into Wadi Sahtan and Wadi Bani Awf en route.
Route W6: Al Qannah Plateau to As Sab
(3.5km; 1.5hr one-way). Probably the most famous walk in Oman, popularly known as the “Balcony Walk”, this spectacular trek follows an old donkey trail inside the rim of Wadi Nakhr to the abandoned village of As Sab (aka Sab Bani Khamis). Links up with route W6a.
Route W6a: Al Qannah Plateau, Wadi Ghul to Al Khatayam
(6km; 3–4hr one-way). Moderate trek following an old donkey path above the southern end of Wadi Nakhr. Links up with route W6.
Around Wadi Bani Awf
Route W8: Balad Sayt
(5km; 3–4hr one-way). Challenging high-level walk which climbs from the beautiful village of Bilad Sayt up the northern flank of the Western Hajar above Wadi Bani Awf. Links up with routes W9 and W10h.
Route W9: Misfat al Abryeen
(9km; 5–6hr one-way). Long trek along old donkey trail starting at the beautiful village of Misfat al Abryeen, with views into Wadi Bani Awf en route. Links up with routes W8 and W10h.
Route W10h: Sharaf al Alamayn
(3.5km; 1.5–2hr one-way). Relatively easy high-altitude walk from the village of Sharaf al Alamayn along the top of the mountains. Links up with routes W8 and W9.
Around Jebel Akhdar
Route W18b: Seeq to Al Aqr
(4km; 2hr one-way). An easy but spectacular walk through the traditional villages lining the edge of the Saiq Plateau, following the rim of the cavernous Wadi al Ayn.
Route W24a & W25: Wukan to Hadash via Jebel Akdhar
(14km; 7–10hr one-way, 10–13hr circular walk if combined with Route W24b). Challenging and extremely exposed high-altitude trek around the northern edge of the Jebel Akdhar above the Ghubrah Bowl. Links up with trek W24b to form a circular route, just about doable by very fit walkers in a single day.
Route W24b: Hadash to Wukan via Al Qawrah
(4km; 2.5–3hr one-way). Short but challenging walk through a trio of mountain villages.