The Secrets of Saiq Plateau on Jebel Akhdar

Saiq Plateau visit in Oman last March was one of our most anticipated visits. Having the flowering season of Roses just started we were looking forward to the fragrance and beauty of these famous roses of Jebel Akhdar! Little did we expect to come across some natural wonders on Saiq Plateau, as you don’t get to read much about it when you try to find things to do on Al Jabal Al Akhdar.

No wonder why Jebel Akhdar is called Green Mountain!

Marine Fossils at Diana’s View Point

Our driver cum guide from Alila Jabal Akhdar, where we were staying took us to a hilltop at Dian’s viewpoint. This is where Princess Diana stood to see the beautiful view when she visited Oman. We started taking photos of the view of the breathtaking valley and terrace farms below us. That is what you do when you go on a top of a mountain, isn’t it? But then our guide showed us turtle fossils on the rocks we were standing on. We could see almost an entire turtle shell. It was such a fascinating experience for us, though we knew that all these mountains in Oman once were under sea millions of years back. Read this post to know more about the geology of Oman.

Turtle Shell Fossil on Mountain

The fossil hunting on Jabal Akhdar is a great Eco- activity with kids. Our son Ruhaan, was totally intrigued by fossils on the rocks here. On this particular spot, he found some more fossils and asked our friendly guide what were those.

Fish Fossil

We even spotted a fish fossil, fossils of many shells of different shapes and sizes.

Sadly even at such significant spot, where you can witness the evolution of life and find these millions of year old fossils; I found litter, lots of rubbish! I always wonder why people never think once before throwing garbage? Do they feel this planet is not their home?

Kids-friendly Trail on Route W18b from Al Aqr to Al Ayn

Al Aqr on left and Al Ayn on right

After seeing fossils, our guide dropped at a small village of Al Aqr. The main activity of this village is farming. There are many traditional old houses in this village built from stone, wood and local material.

Old stone house at Al Aqr village

The walk from Al Aqr to Al Ayn is along the mountain edge and narrow. But there is proper fencing on valley side throughout the route, therefore it is safe to take children on this trail and believe me children enjoy it a lot.

Ruhaan was still fascinated by fossils experience, was looking for fossil rocks on the mountain side of the walk and found many! The view on this trail is beautiful, you get to see villages on two mountains and terraced farms on the slope of these mountains and a rocky valley in between the mountains. I would say this walk is one the most scenic and easy trek in Oman, which you shouldn’t miss. When you look at those mountains with terrace farms, you get the answer why Al Jabal Al Akhdar is called the green mountain. There are few trees on this walk and Ruhaan decided to climb on one. Later he asked his dad to find a stick, as he saw some passerby travelers had walking sticks.

Even on this trail, I could see some rubbish empty plastic bottles, plastic bags thrown outside the fence. Actually, from our experience, it’s not very difficult to reduce waste when you are outdoors. We always carry a reusable water bottle one per each family member, which you can refill in your hotel or restaurant. Specially Alila Jabal Akhdar has their own water bottling plant so it was really easy to refill and avoid plastic waste. Plus I carries some snack pouches with trail mix and stainless steel lunch box with some fruits; just in case anyone gets hungry during the walk.

Reusable stainless steel water bottle

At the end of your walk, as you approach beautiful Al Ayn village and it’s rose farms, you start smelling roses! If you tired by now, this fragrance of million roses can make you forget that and can refresh you instantly!

Approaching Al Ayn from W18b trail

Rose Farms on Saiq Plateau

Al Ayn village is famous for its terrace farms which grow pink roses. After you arrive the village from W18b route walk you first get to see the terrace farms closely. Once you reach the top of the mountain you pass under some grape vines and then you walk on falaj walls around a pond where you can see a few walnut trees. It was spring time so I could spot few walnut flowers on the bare tree. Then you can see all of the plateaux is covered with rose farms. March to May is the harvest season for these roses Damascena. Though our guide mentioned that these are Ahmadi roses but couldn’t find any reference to it.

The walk on dry falaj along the rose farms is one to remember. The strong rose fragrance in the air is impossible to miss. These flowers are used to make rose water in small local distilleries in the traditional way. Rose water is a staple in every household in Oman which they use either in food preparation or for its perfume. You can plan a visit to such rose water distillery in advance. Remember not to pluck flowers and fruits when you visit these terrace farms, as local people’s livelihood is dependent on it.

 

There were few local kids playing in the village, our son started playing with them. I wanted to click few photos, but I remembered you are not supposed to click photos of locals without asking permission. I didn’t see any grown-ups around to ask for permission. But it was lovely to watch my son playing with those kids. After a stroll through the village, we reached parking outside little further where our driver parked his car.

This was one the most fun-filled family outdoors activity we had on Jabal Akhdar.

You can read here about our family camping experience on Jebel Shams the highest mountain in Oman. Don’t forget to subscribe here, if you want to know more about offbeat travel in Oman.

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Hi, I am Amruta, Thank you for visiting my blog!

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

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