Cold it was up there when we finally pulled in to Jebel Shams Resort, at almost 2,000 meters above sea level. For 150 € (half board) the large room was very cozy and warm, but the restaurant reminded me more of a cheap buffet in a high-school cafeteria. From our room we could see the lights of the military base high up on top of Jebel Shams. We were not envying the soldiers up in their chilly barracks. Guarding what?
We came to this place by way of Oman’s Death Road (that’s another story). At the crack of dawn we started our trek into Wadi Ghul, Arabia’s Grand Canyon, following the narrow foot path hewn into the western wall of the canyon. Early in the morning the sun was touching our side of the canyon and we loved being warmed. Every time we stopped for taking photos, we asked ourselves how we could possibly describe the scenery – majestic, spectacular and mighty? It all sounded so trivial!
We ended the trek after about 2 hours at an old abandoned village built into the cliff, Sab Bani Khamis. Some 5 to 10 families lived there up until 15 years ago, taking care of their goats and terraced gardens, also built into the rock. We thought a lot about what it must have meant to lived in such isolation.
Walking back the same way was tough. It was a very easy, wonderful walk but at 10:00 am the sun was hitting the rocks with all its force, frying us. If we ever did this hike again, we would start around 02:00 pm and return with the setting sun. On top of that, in the afternoon, there wouldn’t be any other hikers.
Most of those we met were Germans. As experienced hikers, they explore the Hajer Mountains with state of the art equipment, even with small children. Immediately we spotted the first non-Germans, a family led by a T-shirtless man. Bingo – a British father of two, catching a serious sunburn.
Euphoric we were and regretful – it was a mistake not to stay longer in this incredible place. Besides, for serious photography you need to do the trek in the afternoon, when the sun is setting on the opposite side of the canyon trek.