x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Walking tours in and around Muscat

Ask the expert: enjoy easy treks in the sultanate.

My friends and I are going to be in Oman for a few days next week and are looking forward to trying out a walking tour or moderate treks in and around the capital. Can you suggest a few routes that we can follow easily, or companies that organise tours?

With temperatures dropping over the next few months, this this is a good opportunity to take in the beautiful landscapes and sights the sultanate offers.

The Ministry of Tourism (www.omantourism.gov.com) recently marked out several walking routes around the capital that visitors can follow themselves, with distinctive brown-coloured signposts pointing out popular trails such as the C38, which starts from Riyam Park that overlooks the Corniche. This easy route ventures deep into Mutrah, one of the oldest parts of Muscat which houses a large number fortresses, including Mutrah Fort, traditional Omani houses, a ruined village and the famous Mutrah Souq. The two-km trail takes around an hour and a half to complete and goes through remote mountain territory, offering stunning views of the port and the Arabian Sea.

Another popular route, the W9, starts in Al Hamra, a small town that is about a 2.5-hour drive from Muscat, and follows a moderate trail to Misfat Al Abriyyin in the Western Hajjar Mountains.

There's plenty of exploring to do here, especially among the ancient ruined stone settlements of Balad Sayt and Hat, which are perched at an altitude of 1,650m. The ascent takes around five hours and the descent around six. Donkeys are available for hire for rides along certain sections of the route.

Oman Trekking Guides (www.omantrekkinguides.com; 00 968 9736 2812) organises easy day trips from Mutrah to explore the cool oases and waterfalls at Wadi Shab, around an hour's walk from the town of Dibba. From 75 Omani rials (Dh716) per person (cheaper for larger groups).

Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre (www.holiday-in-oman.com; 00 968 2448 5663) offers the Grand Canyon balcony walk in Jebel Shams with fantastic panoramas of Wadi Mustal and the Gubrah bowl (about 155km from the city centre). Visitors will also get to picnic in a vast date palm plantation irrigated by intricate natural falaj networks. The walk takes up to seven hours and the difficulty level is moderate. The trip costs 240 rials (Dh2,292) per car for up to four people but is not recommended for children below seven. The price includes a picnic lunch, water and soft drinks, and hotel pick-up and drop-off.


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