9 Things To Do in Summer on Jebel Shams, Oman

Jebel Shams, highest mountain in Oman at a height of 3005 meters has to offer many things to do in summer, where the weather is almost 15 degrees less than Dubai! Just across the border beautiful things await and Jebel Shams is one of those natural beauties!


1. Overnight Camping and Barbecue Dinner

Cave camping on Jebel Shams
Wearing Simr Flowers in my ears

We camped in a mountain cave the first night on Jebel Shams.  While father and son slept till late, I woke up around 7 am, a while after the sun rise. I couldn’t sleep further because of light and I was excited to have look around early morning.Read our story of

Read here our story of successful camping in summer.

The view from our tent was amazing, wide wadi and juniper trees, shrubs, a lot of greenery, freshest air and goats busy grazing! When I climbed down from the cave, I saw an Acacia Tree filled with lots of scented yellow flowers and millions of beautiful and colorful butterflies hovering over these flowers along with bees. It was a beautiful scene. This is called Simr tree in Arabic, we call it Babhali in the Indian state of Maharashtra. But I never noticed the sweet scent of flowers before, may be it might be a specialty of middle eastern Simr trees. So I couldn’t help but pick up camera first thing in the morning. From some poetic reference I remember from my childhood, I even tried those yellow flowers as earrings, These natural earrings were well matched with my tee, just excuse me for my bare and ‘just woke up from the bed’ face!
Beautiful butterfly on Simr (Acacia) Tree

2. Nature Walk, Pick fruits, See Rock formations

Nature Walk at Jebel Shams Base Camp

After the breakfast in our cave, we got ready and went on exploration, our family’s favorite ritual on every travel. All of us love to explore new places on our own, given chance even independently. Sometimes it becomes difficult when three minds wanting to wonder off in three different directions. Our first stop was the widely spread wadi at the Jebel Shams base camp, seen from our cave. The temperature might be around 29-30, it was feeling like 26-27 and there were many shaded trees, (sunscreen is a must). So we decided to take a nature walk. This is the place from where famous Balcony Walk starts (hiking route W6), which takes you to Grand Canyon. We noticed few marks for trekkers in red, white and yellow painted flags on stones.

Picking fruits from Juniper tree

My son particularly loved the goats. Goats were coming after us in hope of some food, when I told him that he offered the banana he was eating and one the goat finished it in 2 seconds. So we had to shoo away them later. Ruhaan loved a particular white goat the most and he announced that. He even wanted to cuddle her, but we were not sure about mountain goat’s behavior and they had sharp horns too. Instead, I diverted him to his favorite activity collecting stone and there were billions! We collected different shapes triangle, square, diamond almost the perfect shapes. I was particularly fascinated by my finding. Those mysterious sweet addictive berries were from these juniper trees. So I couldn’t keep myself away from picking some berries myself. I am extremely fond of picking up berries in wild, during my university days we used to go for trekking and camping in Sahyadri ranges in India. I used to love picking up and munching on conkerberry or bush plum while hiking! These kinds of fruits you can generally find only in wild we call it Jungle Delight (Ran mewa in Marathi)

Juniper Berries

Later I found out these are not actually berries, these are female seed cones like pine cones but with unusually fleshy scale. These berries have medicinal properties and used for arthritis and weight loss. You can find one of the oldest Juniper trees here, the older juniper trees have twisted and wider trunks like this one!

Older Juniper Tree
Goat Horn

After collecting berries and stone, we walked along a dry stream. the stones where stream used to flow had characteristic marks. There were a lot of different stone formation, a very interesting place to explore. Some dead looking grass, different lush green bushes. Simr trees and Juniper tress dominated the landscape. We even found a horn shedded by a goat. You can find many different kinds of stone and rock formations here. This area is mineral rich with copper, iron and other minerals, one can easily find white crystals, natural quartz lying on wadi bed. Oman used to be an ocean bed 200 million years back, that sea began to close, the Asian and Arabian plate started moving and these mountains including Jebel Shams were formed. That is why you get to see metamorphic rocks here which are otherwise buried deep in earth elsewhere. On the way back to wards car, my husband found some interesting rock formation, where he could take out a sheet like stones which he could pull out easily.

We saw few camping sites, which left over burnt campfire and unfortunately some litter though there was a big garbage bin kept near the resort fens. After spending almost an hour outdoors we started feeling hotter so we walked back to the car. As we were coming back on road, we saw a young Omani family with child picnicking in shade of large Juniper tree. We waved at them, they smiled and waved back. Later in the evening my husband made an Omani friend living in Al Hamra Village, told him they often come to Jebel Shams for a pleasant day out during summer.

3. Grand Canyon

Woolen Brace Late

Our next stop was Grand Canyon viewing point at just 5 minutes or less drive. Note that the railings there are not dependable; it is advisable to keep young kids away from viewing area. The Grand Canyon is definitely a nice spot for photography. Right opposite the viewing point, there is a barasti stall selling woolen bracelets. The Omani girls were bubbly and started wrapping the bracelet around my son’s wrist. They could speak basic English but politely denied to take any photos of them. My son enjoyed their company, so much that he entered their shop and played. They were more than happy to entertain him. We bought a bracelet, but couldn’t buy juniper berries, but we promised to buy in the evening after we finish our first batch. But they still fill up pockets of my son’s jeans with berries. Omanis are really great hosts and it felt so homely because even Indians offer things to kids, not in an attempt of selling you goods but just a kind act towards kids!

Next morning we ventured further past Jebel Shams Resorts and found even better views of Grand Canyon. I fell in love with these rugged mountains, may be because my hometown in nestled between Sahyadri’s rugged mountain ranges. The views can become little overwhelming if you are alone. I and my husband took turns to walk up to edges of the mountain to have a look at the view as we didn’t want to take Ruhaan with us. The mountain edge is definitely not a place where you can take your active child.

Watch Grand Canyon from Jebel Shams

4. Sun set at Jebel Shams Resort

Sunset from Jebel Shams Resort

From Grand Canyon view point on day 1 of exploring, we were famished. So we decided to take lunch in another resort named ‘Jebel Shams Resort’. I liked the interiors of the restaurant with day lighting at center, few Omani handmade palm decor on wall, lots of views to outdoors from all sides and a mason jar with succulent arrangement inside used as a center piece of every table. Simple and beautiful restaurant. The food was good too, we had tasty chicken curry rice and fish from their set menu, not many options but we were happy. The delicious hummus was freshly made.

Jebel Shams Resort Restaurant

The views from this resorts are outstanding and you get to see the best sunset from Jebel Shams from this resort. So we decided to spend that night in their Arabic tent with best sun set views. While my husband fetched our tent from previous resort me and my son relaxed and rested in our Arabic tent. It was getting hotter outside, there was no AC, only a cooler in a tent, but that was enough for us. I don’t know do they really need AC anytime of the year? Around 4.30-5 o clock, the wind started blowing and the temperature dropped again. So we took our little man to the play area in front of reception. Then I grabbed tea and sat outside our tent on the bench just to enjoy the view and sunset. Watching goats grazing next to me outside the fens and interesting shrubs and grass around. It was really one of the most beautiful sunset I seen in few years. It was very windy during throughout evening and night. By now we forgot how it feels during summer in Dubai!

Mountain Silhouette (View outside our tent)

We also met with a lovely Spanish speaking family from South America, who stay in Muscat and came to enjoy a night. These days my son is an ice breaker in our family, he just ran towards their son saying ‘my new friend’. They came in a big group of close relatives, so after a nice chat, they joined back with them. We continued our exploration in huge premises of resort. We didn’t realize how time flown watching colors in skies after sun set and silhouette of surrounding mountain. One of it was looking like a face of a man fro the side with wide open jaw. Ruhaan found it very interesting. Again we watched stars and I tried telling my son difference between twinkling stars and not twinkling planets. Then our astronaut played pretend rocket take off.

5. Camp Fire

Campfire

During later evening it was really chilling outside, so much that they started heater in the restaurant, but we opted to sit outside just by thinking we are supposed to return back to the furnace the next day.
Again fantastic food at dinner, having soup on chilling night feels great isn’t it? We even filled up our coffee mugs with hot tea and coffee.

By the time we returned to our tent, almost all guest had lit up their campfire and Ruhaan was super excited. So we requested wood and got our own campfire. It was amazing to sit outside with wind blowing, chilling weather, darkest skies with so many stars, campfire and hot tea and our favorite juniper berries (yes my husband bought another batch from the Omani girls, as promised)

It was a great night to remember! After Ruhaan slept, we both just sat side by side next to campfire experiencing that enchanting moments. I don’t remember such peaceful night out in last many years in UAE.

View outside our Arabic Tent at Jebel Shams Resort

Jabel shams Resort is definitely a better place to stay in terms of views and wind. They have different options of stay. Their swimming pool and observatory both were not functioning. But there is so much space around in the resort that kids can play and explore for hours without getting bored.

Jebel Shams Resort

6. Villages on Jebel Shams

Traditional Omani Houses

Next morning, right after a nice breakfast, we drove further in mountains from our resort for some more exploration. We took few stops to look at better views of grand canyon, but there were no railings, so couldn’t spend much of time.

Grape Vine

Further down we found a small settlement with small orchard and cattle, Al Hatim Village. We stopped to have a look, there was a small shop selling same things stones and white quartz crystals, horn shedded by goats, woolen bracelets and key chains and juniper berries. There are views every where of grand canyon valley, bowl like wadi in the center. But I was drawn to a particular house with a yard shaded with grape whines. So I asked permission to photograph, there were only ladies with younger kids, men and older kids must be out for work. They happily welcomed me.

You get to see stone cairn made by hikers around the trekking path, this one we found just outside tiny Al Hatim village.

Stone Cairn

7. Shop Local Produce

If you are in Jebel Shams then you need to experience shopping local produce. Firstly these things are cheaper and it’s definitely a way to support native people of Jebel Shams. Juniper berries are for just 1 riyal, super tasty and great for weight loss and has medicinal properties. You can just pick them up by yourself, but when you do that you will come to know it’s not very easy to pick even handful of them. So that 1 riyal is for the efforts of these young girls picking those berries patiently for you. You can buy those woolen brace late or key chains, they are made from goat wool and look great.

One more thing we took with us to Dubai is fresh grapes from Al Hatim village. My husband couldn’t help but bought those black grapes from those ladies, where I took some photos. They told us grapes would be like lemon, but we didn’t care, we just wanted that experience of eating fresh grapes and we enjoyed it, also shared with our friends.

After the grapes shopping we decided to start our descend and head back to UAE. This time I drove in those challenging roads. may be not so challenging, but you need first gear to climb up steep uphill and you need to keep control on breaks while descending all the time. It was amazing to see the same views from different angle and at different time. We stopped in between to take photos of winding roads in mountains, very scenic drive indeed! If you love driving you need to drive here. There are few diversions in between towards few other mountains and wadis, if you have some more time.

8. Yemeni Lunch at Al Hamra Village

Staff from Jebel Shams resort suggested us to try Yemeni restaurant in Al Hamra village right before

Yemeni Restaurant

shell petrol pump when you are coming from mountain side. We are always up to try different cuisine so we stopped. Unfortunately I was in shorts and I didn’t realize till we got down. But they didn’t treat us differently at all and there were dedicated rooms for families. But the catch was there were no tables and chairs. You need to remove your shoes outside, they spread a table cover and serve food on it. My son found it very unsettling! actually it was not too different from Indian style at homes. Many people still sit on floor and eat, we did that many times in our child hood. But now most of homes in India have dinning tables and not many restaurants offer this kind of sitting arrangement. So after a little bit of running away and a short melt down, my son finally settled down with a complaining face. It was really funny!

The food was okay, similar to arabic food. We ordered chicken and fish with rice and we liked it. It was an experience. There were not many options there and mostly shops were closed.

9. Bahla Fort

Bahla Fort

This time we took the route through Bahla, hoping to get glimpse of Bahla fort. It is UNESCO world heritage site.

It’s definitely a must do thing during your drive, when you are driving through Bahla, it’s just on main road, you don’t need to take any detours. They are restoring the fort, we decided to take short break and take quick walk around the fort. There are abandoned old houses on back side of the fort, I had to take few photos there. Then we just took quick look at Bahla souq which was just in next lane, it was closed so we didn’t spend much time.
Ruins around Bahla Fort

May be we can keep some time reserved to explore the fort from inside and the souq next time.

From Bahla to Al Ain border we went through a sand storm and then rain! We even saw few wind whirls before the sand storm. But the temperature was pleasant most of our drive. At Al Ain border crossing the Omani staff asked very proudly if we been to been to Salalah, after hearing our answer he suggested we should go to Jebel Akhdar next time. That is definitely on top of our list, but we need a four wheel drive to go there.Overall our experience of Jebel Shams in summer was great, I don’t know why we never tried this before in all these years in UAE. We are going there again in winter! I would recommend it in summer for those who like raw, rugged, rustic beauty and who are ready to drive and keep comforts away for some time. It’s a great quick escape to better weather during summer!

We have always loved visiting Oman’s Musandam peninsula (read an old post here) and have great memories of camping on a beach there (click to read), but now I totally agree with Omani Ministry of Tourism’s tag line ‘Beauty has address, Oman!’

‘Butterfly counts not months but moments’- Rabindranath Tagore
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5 Comments on "9 Things To Do in Summer on Jebel Shams, Oman"

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Nice Information! I personally really appreciate your article. This is a great website. I will make sure that I stop back again!
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Thanks Narasiman! Glad you liked the blog!

Nice Information! I personally really appreciate your article. This is a great website. I will make sure that I stop back again!
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Hi Amruta. thank you so much for this post. Was it cool enough in the July nights to sleep outside at Jebel Shams? It would be great to try it this summer but I was afraid the heat would be to crazy.

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I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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