Adventure in the Mountains – 4 Days Itinerary

This itinerary is designed for adventurous people who love hiking and are interested in exploring the Omani Hajar Mountain range. The itinerary packs some of the most stunning scenery in the Omani Hajar mountains, including trekking up the highest summit in Oman and the canyoning adventure at Snake Canyon.

The itinerary is quite challenging, so we would recommend it only for active people who are in good physical shape. Camping is required for this itinerary (although there are options in each overnight location for staying in a guesthouse), and a 4WD car is also required. This itinerary can be done year-around, but it is going to be more challenging in summer – ideal time for it would be September to April. It is not kids-friendly, unless they are the extremely adventurous type.

This itinerary suits someone wanting to incorporate an adventure element in a longer trip to Oman as it packs a number of great treks in a short time.

Itinerary Notes & Highlights

Duration4 days 3 nights
Who is it for?Hiking and adventure lovers who have visited Oman before, or are only interested in hiking/mountains
Time of year?Year-round, preferred from September to April
Suitable For Kids?No
Camping Required?Yes
4WD Car Required?Yes
Difficulty LevelDifficult
1Take-off from Muscat, hike at Misfat Al-Abriyeen, and camp at Jabal Shams.
2Hike to Jabal Shams Summit and camp on the mountain.
3Jabal Shams Balcony Walk, mountain path to Sharaf Al-Alamein, and camp at Wadi Bani Awf
4Wadi Bani Awf Crossing & Snake Canyon adventure, return to Muscat

Day 1 – Take off from Muscat & Al Mazare’ Trek

This is the first day of your adventure, and you will need to take it lightly (for you will have the hardest trek in the itinerary the following day). Depart as early as you can from Muscat (8am at the latest) and head straight to Misfat Al-Abriyeen village, which is ~3 hour drive. Get your hiking clothes and pack ready to do the Al-Mazare’ Trek as soon as you reach.

The trek can take anywhere from 5-6 hours total, but we would recommend taking it easy to enjoy the stunning scenery while not over-exerting yourself, and to time yourself to allow a total of ~4 hours for the round-trip which should get you to the narrow side of the gorge with some fantastic boulders and rock formations. Once you’re done with the trek (by 4pm at the latest) have a late lunch at Misfat Al-Abriyeen village and then head down to Al-Hamra.

From Al-Hamra, we recommend to either grab some take-away food from a restaurant or have pre-packed food for your dinner then continue straight to Jabal Shams (~1hr drive up the mountain from Al-Hamra) to camp at the start of the Jabal Shams Summit trail. You will have a super early start the next day, so set-up your camp to have your dinner and try to get some sleep at your campsite as early as possible.

Day 2 – Jabal Shams Summit

The second day in the itinerary consists solely of doing the physically demanding, yet amazing, Jabal Shams Summit trek (Route W4). This is approximately 26km as a round-trip, with ~1,000m elevation gain and taking anywhere from 10-14h depending on your fitness level. You will need to have a very early start in order to ensure you get to do the trek during day-light hours – so take note of the sunset time and how long you expect to take and plan accordingly. I recommend you pack flashlights as pre-caution, and take snacks and packed-lunch for yourself, as well as sufficient amount of water (we recommend min. 3 liters per person).

Once you are done with the trek, come back to your camp-spot and pack-up to switch your campsite to the ‘balcony view’ side of Jabal Shams – see the map below for the rough area (Note: we don’t recommend camping by the cliff-side during winter as it can get very windy and cold). This is a much nicer spot to camp, as you won’t need to be at the trail start point anymore, and you can get a nice view of the sunrise as well through the Grand Canyon of Arabia. This is also the time for you to make a camp-fire BBQ (perhaps some good steak!) and enjoy a well-earned rest after a tough day.

Day 3 – Balcony Walk and a Cultural Visit

You can afford a bit more sleep today as this is more of a recovery day and taking things easy, relatively speaking. But we still recommend you try and wake up for sunrise at the canyon. After that, pack-up your camp site and head to the Al-Khitaym village (الخطيم) which is a short drive away, and start the Jabal Shams Balcony Walk (Route W6A), ~4-5hrs return trek, easy to moderate difficulty.

This ‘walk’ is along the edge of the canyon and offers a different perspective of the Wadi Nakhur, so it really complements the summit trek! You should do the trek all the way to the ‘hidden lake’ at the end of the trail and then return to your car as this is the last of your treks at Jabal Shams. There is an option to do a Via-Ferrata route up from near the ‘hidden lake’, which is a great adventure but we would not recommend it as part of this itinerary unless you are an experienced climber and capable of completing the Via-Ferrate route with good timing, as this could easily take longer time and affect the remaining activities for this day.

After coming down from Jabal Shams (no later than 12pm), head to Al-Hamra and have lunch at one of the restaurants there (our favorite is Reem Al-Yemen in Al-Hamra). After lunch, you have some time to do a cultural activity – we recommend either visiting Bait Al-Safah Museum in Al Hamra, or the UNESCO listed Bahla Fort. Keep track of your timing, and ensure you do a pit-stop to top up on your food & water supplies before starting the drive up the Eastern Mountain towards Sharaf Al-Alamein to make a start at Wadi Bani Awf Crossing, no later than 3-4 pm. You have the option to either camp overnight at Sharaf Al-Alamein (which is at the top of the Eastern Mountain and will require further drive down for the start of next day’s adventure), or drive further into the wadi to camp closer to the canyon. Set-up camp and prepare your dinner.

Day 4 – Snake Canyon then back to Muscat

On the fourth and last day of this adventure, you will do Snake Canyon – a canyoning adventure where you will trek, scramble and swim through a stunningly narrow gorge! Depending on your experience level and gear (harness and ropes), you can either do the Left Fort (~3-4 hrs, abseiling not required) or the Right Fork (~4-5 hrs, abseiling required), but both routes are amazing in their own way and will end you up in Al-Zamah village. You will need to have arranged car transfer in advance back to your starting point. Following the adventure, you should change into dry clothes, have lunch in the canyon (lunch can be arranged through some of the villagers in the area who can prepare home-cooked food), and then head to Balad Sayt village for some sightseeing. The village is gorgeous, and there is a really beautiful view from the village fort if you have the energy to make it there. This is the last activity in this adventure itinerary, and then you can make your way back to Muscat.

Photo gallery from a 2019 trip doing this 4 day Itinerary:

Map of the locations