Best walks, hikes and treks in Oman [View list of walks]
There is so much more to Oman than its location on the map might suggest: yes, much of it is desert, and empty and desolate desert at that, but there are also Arabia's highest mountains, varied ecosystems and surprisingly rich flora and fauna (helped by Arabia's greenest government), a long and fascinating history associated with trade routes (frankincense in particular) and supported by ancient falaj irrigation systems.
Oman sat on great trade routes, on sea and land, and these brought several periods of wealth. The green, irrigated valleys of its mountains, and the nearby plains, display a wealth of ancient settlements protected by unlikely forts, many mountain villages now abandoned, and the sophisticated falaj irrigation systems which supported their prosperity.
The Hajar Mountains form the central and south-eastern reaches of that rocky spine which climbs out of the sea in the remote and magnificent fjordland of the Musandam Peninsula on the strategically vital Straits of Hormuz and marches, parallel to the Gulf of Oman, until it stutters out south of Sur in the far east. This is the highest mountain range on the Arabian Peninsula, with views to boot. On each side, low plains hoard many of Oman's cities and most of its people. Westward, slopes riven by wadis descend to the great deserts of the interior.
Dhofar, in the far south, is very different, much greener by the coast as a result of having its own monsoon.
Oman is home to a huge range of plant and animal life, which is somehow counterintuitive considering how arid the country is – and is testament to its green credentials. That said, you will be lucky to see many mammals other than wild donkeys; and birds can be elusive even though Oman sits on major migratory routes and is a bit of birdwatching heaven.
So, Oman has things to fascinate everyone, children included. The variety of travel and tours you can make in Oman is as a result huge.
Walking, hiking and trekking in Oman
Oman has some of the world’s best walks, hikes, treks and climbs, ranging from famous mountain trails in the Western Hajar Mountains, and the Jebel Akhdar in particular, to geological absurdities like Wadi Nakhur and Wadi Mistall, to the dramatic interiors of numerous other wadis, often with delicious swimming pools, to walks along historic falaj irrigation systems.
Walking, hiking, trekking and climbing tours and holidays in Oman are so varied that everyone’s taste and energy levels can be met. Walking in Oman isn’t just for hard-nuts, although there is plenty to get their juices flowing. And there are a multitude of tour operators offering services ranging from providing vehicles and guides to fully-supported treks.
Best times for walking vary by region (Dhofar is cooler year round), but in the north are the winter, ie October to March, although October and April can still be pretty hot. Summer gets up to nearly 50˚, so isn’t realistic for walking. It was still too hot for comfortable walking in lower areas when Walkopedia was in the Hajar Mountains in early November, but the highlands were perfect, or the warm side of, with a hint of breeze most of the time.Weather is generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather and cold nights.
See the list below for a (currently incomplete – please give us your recommendations!) list of the best walks, treks and hikes in Oman. Various of these are in our world’s Top 100 list.