• Expat Life
  • Trekking at the Cliff of a Canyon

     

    Jabal Shams is one of the visited spots in Oman. It is considered as the Arabian version of Grand Canyon. Most of the people who visit the popular destination usually go to the “Balcony Walk” which is the main attraction of the Grand Canyon. Looking at it is just amazing! Most tourists visit the place without realizing that there is more than that. Previously, I wrote something about Jabal Shams and my trek to the highest summit on the Gulf area by taking the W4 trail. This time I invited some friends to join me on another trekking adventure by taking W6 trail. I posted on fb days before on my invitation to some of my friends who wanted to experience trekking here in Oman.

    So how did we organize everything? First we rented a van good for 12 persons going to Jabal Shams. The van costs 155 USD/ 60 OMR/7,319 PHP whole day rental. We decided to go as early as 6.30am but since we were a big group, we ended up leaving Nizwa (where we are staying) around 7.30 am. We had numerous stop over too before heading up to Jabal Shams. When we reached the rough road and steep part of Jabal Shams, we finally decided to change our van to 4wd after knowing that it rained for the past days. It is difficult to go and proceed to the starting point of the trail if we will not change to 4wd. Since everyone was eager to go on with the plan, two 4wd were rented. The driver gave us a rate of 103USD/40omr/ 4870php for two 4wd.  For convenience, I suggest better to rent a 4wd for the whole trip going to Jabal Shams.  The last part of the road on Jabal Shams was rocky, bumpy and steep. It is crucial to check the weather condition before heading up to Jabal Shams. When we got there, weather was around 22 degree Celsius. Not too hot and not that humid. As a must, don’t forget to apply your sunblock as necessity before heading up for a hike. Bring enough water to hydrate your body as well.

     

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    Stopped over at the gasoline station
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    Negotiating for the 4wd rental in Jabal Shams. Haggling is a serious business here! 😀
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    The famous “Balcony Walk” with the local drivers
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    The rented 4WD

    We started our trek at Village Al Khateem at around 10 in the morning. There is an open space to where to park the vehicle. (For further information regarding the w6 trail, visit Oman Tourism website). The website is so useful and even without a guide you can go and do trekking alone. At first we planned to do the trekking by ourselves but since we changed 4wd starting at the rough road of Jabal Shams, the drivers joined and accompanied us on our trek.

     

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    Parking area for the 4wd in Village Al Khateem

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    Starting point of the trek

    The trekking path is well marked, markers consisting of yellow, white and red stripes. For every 2-3 meters there is a mark paved on the stones. The path was easy. It was bit stony but it is highly recommended for novice and first timers. The W6 trail was 8km back and forth with around 1900m in altitude.

     

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    There were number of shaded picnic benches along the way to enjoy the view and rest for some time. Walking near the cliff of the canyon was really incredible. The feeling was exhilarating! What really amazed me – was the gigantic canyon! It wasn’t scary at all though one must be really careful. At the top, the town of Al- Hamra is visible. Al-Hamra is a town where oldest preserved houses in Oman can be found!

     

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    Shaded bench occupied by the mountain goat
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    Ok, it is bit scary to walk near the cliff!

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    It is not advisable to bring along kids younger than 10 yrs. old for safety reasons. There are cairns as a sign of landmark along the way. The end point of the w6 trail is the abandoned village.  The old houses from before is unique and were made of rocks that are really sturdy and has been there for years. We took lunch near the abandoned village by having a small picnic. There were some wild goats while we were having our food. The goats were harmless and I think were used to having visitors on the mountain. Some tourists we have met, said there is a waterfall if we go a little further of the abandoned village but since the driver was quite in hurry we didn’t proceed instead we headed back after we took our lunch.

     

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    Cairns!
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    The Abandoned Village
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    Tourists checking the Abandoned Village

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    Picnic time!

    We felt bit tired on our way back. The climb was ascending. We splurged too much from the food we brought! I just realized it isn’t advisable at all to eat a lot and proceed straight to walking. Eat and drink in a considerable amount is the best way to do in order to enjoy and be able to walk again and have some rest in between. We reached back Village Al Khateem at around 2pm. Hurray, we did it!

     

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    Tourists visiting the cliff of the Canyon
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    Dead tired…

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    There were locals selling souvenirs at Village Al- Khateem, such as bracelets and some stones of different colors. We asked some local to have a picture and gladly accepted our request without hesitant.

     

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    Our trip didn’t end up there, we went straight to Misfat Al Abriyeen to have a quick look of the place. Misfat Al Abriyeen is close to Jabal Shams which is around 30-40 mins drive. One word to describe Misfat? Ancient.  Misfat Al Abriyeen is a famous place for unique village located 1000m above sea level on the mountain foothill surrounding Al Hamra.It is a famous attraction in Oman, peculiar for its old houses built of solid rocks, great agricultural terraces and alleys. It is said that the first house in Misfat was built 200 years ago. The villagers found livelihood from their agricultural terraces. The plants, vegetables, palm trees are quite rare sustained by falaj, a water system that runs through the village. It is an ancient village that is still a home for some locals. It is necessary to pay respect and ask permission if you want to take a picture along with them and necessary to wear something appropriate. We had a short trek tour around the village. The villagers grow some lemon, banana and other local plants. The place will enthralled you for being unique. Watch out for your steps while walking as it is slippery. We strolled around but since we had our trek in Jabal Shams and started our day too early, we felt bit tired already. The trail mark that can be found in Misfat Al Abriyeen is the same to all other trekking trails in Oman.

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    Trekking trail in Misfat Al Abriyeen

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    The local says “Hi!”
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    Falaj, water system in Misfat Al Jabreen

    To finish our fun day, we went to a local restaurant in Al Hamra to have our early dinner. We ordered fruit shakes and Chicken Biryani rice!  So how’s the experience? Tiring yet it was amusing. It is an activity to enjoy in Oman, solo or by a group! It is something that is fun to do and doesn’t require a lot of money. To sum it all, each spent around 26 USD/10 OMR /1200 PHP + since we shared the cost for transportation and food!

     

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    The sweat was all worth it! When you are in Oman the best way to enjoy Oman’s varied landscape is through trekking.Take a trip to Oman with Agoda. I’m looking forward for the next adventure in Oman! Inshallah…

    What adventure you want to do? Tell us in the comments below.

  • Travel Stories
  • Stunning Yosemite National Park!

     

    Before I went for my US trip, it was my dream to visit at least one of the national parks in the US. Growing up in a place very much  in touch with nature, it inspired me and I’m really looking forward to be able to see these places.  I was even torn between these 2 beautiful places to see- Yosemite or Lake Tahoe! Because of time constraint , it hindered me to go to  these places at one time.

    Since my family was also busy , I was thinking if I will go alone or at least with my brother to one of those places. But when my family went to San Francisco to visit our relatives, I was very lucky that my wish was granted.We had our road trip for a day to Yosemite from Stockton California.The 2.5-3 hours drive to Yosemite was scenic. I enjoyed every bit of the view…the garden, the farm and the houses of the farmers we saw along the way. A totally different atmosphere from where I grew up and to where I am currently based.

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    Yosemite is a one of the famous national parks in the United States located in Eastern California in the Sierra Nevada region. It is considered as a World Heritage in 1984.Around 3.7 million guests visit the place every year. Firstly, it is to be understood how big the national park is. It covers a total of 761,266 acres of forest and mountains.  Entrance fee  depends on the type of the vehicle  and what month you plan to visit Yosemite National Park. Non- commercial car, pick up truck, RV or van with 15 passengers or less, costs 30USD/ vehicle from April through March and 25USD/ vehicle , November till March .Admission fee is valid for 7 days. Fairly cheap if you are traveling with your family in one huge car.

     

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    A map will be provided and it will serve as a guide upon entrance to the park. The park is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day but it is important to take the weather forecast as roads might be closed due to snow around November till May. If you are a nature lover, it is one of the places that must be visited! From sightseeing to outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone to do in Yosemite all year around.

     

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    When we went there, it was on the month of November and yes we saw a bit of snow. So how can I described the park in one word? Captivating! Every stop was like a picture worth taking for. If you love photography, the place will leave you breathless. It will inspire you to  be like a real professional photographer!  If you love to go for a hike, there are several hiking trails that are ready to be explored. Picnic areas are everywhere too! Biking, camping.. there are countless activities for every season of the year. Not to mention, it was my first time to see a deer for real!

     

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    I am  completely delighted by the great view…granite cliffs, huge trees, crystal clear streams and rivers. The mountain, the forest were like the pictures I would only see in American movies. Everything seem so surreal! If you want to stay overnight it is possible too. There are lodgings, food and visitor centers. I wish we could have stayed but there was no time and booking should be done in advance if you want to stay overnight.

     

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    Shop for souvenirs

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    So how to get around on the huge area? Since we have a car it was easy for us to just go around.  A short hop to hop to different beautiful views inside the park was so worth it. There are available shuttles that run daily around the National Park too! It was a spectacular experience indeed! A place to experience wilderness. Well I wish I had more time to explore the place, one day was never enough. The pictures you see says it all!!

    How about you? Any particular place you want to visit in the US?  Share it with us…