It was Friday. Weather in Oman has started to surge, reaching 40 degrees. Not very ideal to go out, but my two other colleagues- Max (German) & Ed (Filipino) decided to explore the interiors of Oman. And by the interiors I mean onwards to the mountainous parts- Jebel Akhdar (which means Green Mountain).
I’d like to think that “green” has a very special significance to Omani’s. In a country surrounded by marble mountains, water and desert- green breathes in life to its citizen. Jabal Akhdar does not stay green throughout the year, but when it does it becomes so beautiful you wouldn’t think that you are in the Middle East.
Well, such is the beauty of Oman that is now listed as one of the top destinations in the world. I’m proud to say that I have been a part of promoting Oman’s beauty; allowing the people the world over to re-think the concept of the Arab World far from war and instability.
So, going back to the topic.
For the sake of writing this article, please bear with me as I try to gather the thoughts during the trip. A more factual and detailed content will eventually be appended. Fingers crossed.
08:30. Left the house and drove onwards Nizwa. Roads and highways in Oman are very well constructed. Signs are also present but it is still wise to use GPS and maps. Just make sure that your GPS coordinates are correct. Sometimes the GPS device takes you to some bizarre routes. The maps come in handy so you can compare the directions. Rule of thumb, if the GPS reaches 3 hours to get to your destination then there must be something wrong.
10:30. We reached Birkat Al Mauz. I was told that Birkat Al Mauz literally means “pool of bananas”. Long time ago, this part of town was planted with bananas. Today date palms have replaced the bananas. It felt so tropical inside the place.
12:00. We were supposed to visit Sahab Hotel, a 4-star hotel property up in the mountains. But for some reason, the GPS decided to take us to Izki and then Sinaw. And I was like, wait this is going to the desert. Max was like, are you sure we are heading to the mountain because I don’t see any mountain anywhere.
Oh good heavens, we were lost. And the hot weather was not helping at all. Good thing my mobile map was working so we were able to compare the GPS directions. We had to drive back. Quiet on the way back to the road, the only sound you can hear was the odd classical music on the radio station.
12:15. I was calculating in my head the time and distance to reach the destination. We will be an hour late.
12:45. At the checkpoint, the police was talking in Arabic. My gage of the Arabic language is limited to a few survival words, but hand gestures usually do the trick. Apparently the police was asking for the car license, but Max was giving his passport instead.
13:00. Finally reached the hotel. Our good host Linny was very kind to show us around the hotel. As usual, the mountain temperature is way too cooler than in Muscat. A breath of fresh air, literally.
Sahab Hotel is a 4-star boutique hotel in Jabal Akhdar. In the old days, it used to be the top property in the area. Both locals and foreign tourists opt to stay here. What is absolutely stunning in the hotel is the magnificent view of the canyon. Linny informed us that weekends are usually the time when visitors come.
14:00. Later in the afternoon, Max took us to the Rose Factory. Jabal Akhdar is famous for producing the rose water, which is used by Omani’s in various ways- food, perfume, etc. The only problem was that we couldn’t find the Rose Factory. In my head, I had imagined a typical factory. But it looks like these factories are small scale and manufactured by individual Omani families.
Nobody in the area could point us to the direction of the Rose Factory. Could it be the language barrier? Or perhaps just the fact that it is not a factory at all. We decided to leave.
17:00. Alila Jabal Akhdar. This is the only 5-star hotel in the mountain and billed as one of the best. I certainly agree.
17:10. We started the hotel tour. Tareq, our host filled us with so many interesting information about the hotel. But as I was taking photos the whole time, I really couldn’t focus that much. All I could remember was that the rooms and views are magnificent. A long drive to this hotel was worth it.
At dusk, you will see the sun set behind the mountains. It was the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in the mountain.