On a separate trip to Musandam, a visit to the mountain of Jebel Al Harim beckoned. Inland from Khasab and on the route via Wadi Bih to the town of Dibba on the east coast of the peninsula. Sadly the Dibba border is only open to GCC nationals, so a retracing of the route is required if you are not blessed with such a document….
Taking the road past Khasab town, past the airport and beyond, the first main turning to the right is the route on the Jebel Sayh road. The road climbs steeply up the mountain slopes, some hair-raising bends, drops and few safety barriers. I would recommend 4WD for this journey. The summit is 2,087 metres, and the road is not too far away from the summit.
Nearly at the top, the road levels out onto a small plateau, which is home to a remote farming community.
The summit is out of bounds, there is a radar station at the top watching over the shipping action in the Straights of Hormuz. Spectacular views of the Musandamand the mountain range are to be had and, as ever in Oman, a geologist’s paradise. Deciding to explore, we dropped over towards the valley, another road to remember vividly with its precarious perch along the top of a ridge, sharp hairpins down, luckily few cars travel this way.
The road drops into a valley which is landlocked, to the left the route out South to Dibba, but large signs forbidding anyone who is not a GCC national to drive further. Across the plain a small valley led towards the coast. Taking it we came to the village of Rawdah, landlocked into the plain surrounded by more impenetrable mountains, no access to the sea here. Known as the Rawdah bowl, the village is literally miles from anywhere. Surrounding the outskirts of the village are old cemeteries, evidence of population for many years.
Returning back over Jebel Harim and stopping for camera moments at the highest point we could reach, it was noticeable that the rocks were studded with marine fossils, at 2,000 metres above sea level… evidence of some amazing power within the earth’s crust, the forces of nature that created this area make you long to learn more about geology.
With not enough time to search around too much, we headed down the mountain to the edge of the small plateau where we had noticed an ill-defined track branching off towards the Ras Al Khaimah side of the plateau. Taking it, (4WD only) up and over the twisty incline and onto a further plateau nestling between the mountains, the road takes you straight to the edge, and literally the edge. The drop, hundreds of metres down to the valley, was nerve-wracking and the views over the Northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, spectacular.
It’s wild and remote on this road, a long drive to anywhere, but worth a trip if you are a confident driver. The views are stunning, the landscape is Oman at it’s best, and the small things, the plateau of farmers, the lonely, isolated village in Rawdah, the fossils studding the very top of the range, the drive up and down some fairly extreme roads… make you wonder at the resilience of the local population, given the extreme terrain and temperatures in this peninsula.
My main regret is that the road through the wadis to Dibba is not available to foreign passport holders. Looking at the map, the road takes you through the heart of this mountain wilderness.. possibly a camping trip, and a drive until army patrols turn you back … it is in the plan..!
Route map :https://goo.gl/maps/4s88f8tMV3U2
Border crossing: Exit fee approx AED35 per person to get out of UAE at border control post, Entry stamp and 5 OMR per person is required for entry at the Oman border post.
Oman car insurance is required.
Some links on the history of this area :