Nizwa and Jebel Shems

Up until now I had only experienced life in Muscat but last weekend I got a chance to visit Nizwa, the old capitol of Oman and Jebel Shems, the tallest mountain in the country.

I went with AMIDEAST and the other exchange students, which was a lot of fun, they’re always entertaining and we’ve really grown into a close-knit group.

Nizwa is one of the oldest cities in Oman and is most famous for its fort, which dates back to the 1600s and is one of Oman’s most visited attractions. It stands today as a symbol of the influence ancient Oman held in the region and is also very impressive in its architecture, with numerous defense mechanisms such as trapdoors, fake floors and channels for pouring hot date oil on potential intruders. We took a tour of the fort and also visited the souq or marketplace where you can find traditional Omani handicrafts, silver work and jewelry, all for a pretty good price as long as you make sure to bargain.

View from the top of Nizwa fort

View from the top of Nizwa fort

Liz and I at Nizwa fort

Liz and I at Nizwa fort

The inside of the fort. The stairs lead up to a lookout point

The inside of the fort. The stairs lead up to a lookout point

We then drove to Jebel Shems (meaning “sun mountain”), which at 10,000 feet is the tallest mountain in Oman. We drove to the top and were able to walk right up to the edge of the cliff, something that definitely would not be allowed in the U.S.  We took advantage of the lack of regulation, walking along the edge to get better views and making our chaperones  nervous.

The overlook at Jebel Shems

The overlook at Jebel Shems

We spent the night at a campsite nearby and before dinner a few of us hiked up a nearby hill where we saw an amazing sunset. It was surprisingly cold at the top of the mountain, and relative to Oman’s usual temperature it was absolutely freezing. In the evening it also started raining which was a bit of a shock. I had never been so excited to see 40 degrees and raining!

The next day we visited a wadi which is the Arabic word for a valley or riverbed with a small amount of water, or one that only has water during heavy rains. It was a bit scary at first because we drove off the road and straight into an unmarked canyon but after about 10 minutes of bumping over the rocks we pulled up to a clearing with a pool of clear water. We spent a lot of time exploring the wadi; it was really beautiful with tons of greenery and we even spotted a water snake. We were slightly unprepared for wildlife adventuring and I think our Omani guides were amused to see 14 American teenage girls struggling through the water in maxi skirts and long sleeves.

The wadi

The wadi

Rachel, Kirby and I at a lookout point on our way to the wadi

Rachel, Kirby and I at a lookout point on our way to the wadi

On our way to the wadi

On our way to the wadi

From the wadi we headed back to Muscat and it was back to school and the routine of city life.

I really enjoyed getting to see a different side of Oman over the weekedn. Muscat is a great place but it isn’t always a great representation of what the rest of the country looks like. I loved seeing the mountains and small villages during our drive and it gave me a better understanding of the country as a whole.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Poppa
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 14:10:51

    Thanks for the fascinating travelogue! Amazing to see those pictures taken from desert country.
    Happy Thanksgiving (in USA) and Happy Chanukah!
    Poppa

    Reply

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