Driving into Wadi Ghul while it is time for the local youth to go to school

There are two ways to enjoy Oman's highest mountain Jebel Shams. They say Jebel Shams - or Jabal Shams, agian sources seem to disagree about Arabic/English translations - means “mountain of sun”. One way to see it is to drive into Wadi Ghul. The wadi - with 1000 m straight vertical sides - is appropriately called “The Grand Canyon of Oman”. Or more meganomanically “the Grand Canyon of Arabia”. While that sounds spectecular, we plan to take the road upto the plateau.

The village on Wadi Ghul's left shore has been abandoned

Yet, the palm covered shores and steep clifs make Wadi Ghul irresistible to drive into. It is not on our route, but we do it. If only to meet the local youths who are late for their school bus. Interestingly, they seem to live in a new village, that their parents have rebuilt on the right shore of the wadi. The old village still sits abandoned on the wadi's left shore. Our tourist eye tells us that the old mud-brick village is more pretty. But it's probably less comfortable than the new one.

Top of Jebel Shams is dominated by goats with an attitude

Opinions differ about the height of the Jebel Shams. Some - including the Lonely Planet - say it is 3075 m. Others say 2980. Frankly... with our Land Cruiser, these extra 95 meters are no additional effort at all..... The top is breath taking in more than one way. Firstly it is cold at the top; we are used to 30°C, it's closer to 15 here; we didn't take anything but a t-shirt and flip-flops. Secondly, the views into the canyon are more than spectacular; the goats seems to be trained to pose for visitor's cameras. Thirdly, the smell of goats in the sun takes your brea....

Keep your hands & feet in shape. You need them to haggle with people - appearing out of nowhere - selling carpets, goat wool key-rings, bracelets & pieces of polished marble. We got two woolen key-rings and a bracelet for 1.5 rial and managed to refuse the useless piece of marble....

posted on Friday, March 06, 2009 6:26 PM