If you are looking for a getaway from Muscat’s city life, Jebel Shams offers one of the cities most popular getaways within 2 hr drive distance. Impeccable views and privacy while you bond with nature sound like the perfect Muscat day tour!
Jebel Shams Height
Jebel Shams (sometimes written as Jabal Shams)is known as the ‘mountain of the rising sun’, is on of Oman’s best kept secrets. Considered a quick weekend getaway for Muscat city-folk, it’s a locale that deserves more recognition. After all, at 3,028 meters, it;s the eighth tallest peak in the middle east!
On a good day, the drive up to the mountains should take about three hours on average from Muscat. The temperature is is usually cool (20 Celsius) and tends to get cooler towards the night, the sun would usually be hiding behind the peaks depending on where you set camp. At high altitude the greenery is sparse with, fortunately, few insects that would put you off.
Jebel Shams boasts amazing scenes and with the right company it would become more than delightful to to get lost in the beauty of the mountain peak and valleys; in awe of nature in remembrance of how small you really are, together. With this guide, you will be on your way to Jebel Shams to witness the Grand Canyon of Oman for yourself!
Two American girls go on a trip to Jebel Shams. Read about their experience here.
- How To Get There
- Best Time to Visit
- Thing To Do
- Hotels in Jebel Shams
#1- Before You Go There
Before you get to excited about visiting Jebel Shams, be wary to prepare for the trip to come. Mountain tours in Oman have recently been catching high momentum but there hasn’t been much in terms of development till recent times. It is not unusual for you to look for signs when there are none or to find yourself go from smooth roads to bumpy terrain unexpectedly. However, it is worth noting that as the Tourism in Oman is being heavily invest on by the government there still remains gaps between the end goal and the current situation. For that you should be prepared while journeying over to Jebel Shams.
First of all, make sure you travel in a 4×4 vehicle. The four wheel drive feature would save your life as you navigate through desert rocks and uneven grounds. Furthermore, keep in mind that the turn and slopes on the way to Jebel Shams are very steep and would be very hard to make in a regular sedan. As with any trips heading outside of Muscat I always advise traveler to proceed with renting a four wheel car for safety reasons.
However, small cars might be spotted on the way but one can only guess how far the could go.
Alternatively, view Camel Oasis’s pick of the cheapest, value justified tour available on online platforms
Second. make sure you know your path. Roads are tricky in Oman and there is no guarantee you would find a sign on your way. However, there is no need to worry as the paths to anywhere in Oman are usually straight for x number of mile, two or three turn and you should be there. Google maps recently has been better at locating destination within Oman so that should be you best best. Just make sure you have a power bank on hand!
Worst comes to worst, if you ask anyone for direction on the road they will guide (and maybe even take you!) without expecting anything in return. Omanis are the most hospitable people on earth and would not ask anything from you. With that being said, tipping would be considered as an insult if you were just to ask for help.
Lastly, take a second driver with you. This would be helpful if you have issued driving long distance as the drive to Jebel Shams is close to 3 hours and a half (250 km). Safety is key to a memorable trip.
Read our Travel Resource recommendations
#2 – Jebel Shams Road Directions
Google Maps would be your best choice for finding directions. It’s a steady drive from Muscat to Jebel Shams. Make sure you stick to the speed limit on the way there are speed radars en route.
#3 – Jebel Shams Weather
Just as is the temperature throughout Oman (with the exception of Salalah), expect warm weather throughout. June- August are unpleasantly hot months of the year so I would avoid high duty outdoor activities. However since Jebel Shams is the highest mountain top in Oman temperature are albeit more pleasant during the summer in comparison to the heat in Muscat. For safety reasons I would advise against driving there in the rain; which rarely happens in Oman.
Be prepared to being jackets and sweaters if you are heading there towards the winter months of October to March as it does get cold during the night.
#4 – Things To Do
There is really much to be done at Jebel Shams unless you love the outdoors and adventure. Photography session are a must and picnics to the marvelous views is a local activity to indulge yourself in. There is a reasons Omani are known to be relaxed 24/7.
If you are feeling adventurous you can go on a hike on of the trails at Jebel Shams. You can take the hike on your own or with a group. I do recommend taking caution if you are going on your own as medical aid is not easy to come by on the mountain top. There area 3 hike options possible at Jebel Shams:
Jebel Shams Summit hike (medium;recommended)
Also known as the W4 route hike, it is a moderately difficult hike. This hike require physical endurance and ability from non-seasoned hikers.It is a very steep route uphill and would require marching forward non stop for 5-7 hours to reach the allowed summit ( the actual summit is military grounds and toursist are not allowed). Take into consdieration weather fluctuations during winter and take utmost precation
driving towards Jebel Shams Resort, get off at Sama Heights Resort and follow the trail till you reach a parking space with signs marking the beginning of the”W4″ trail.
Overall hike time would take anywhere from 10 to 15 hours.
Not Recommended for hikers with no prior experience.
Typical while hiking on Jebel Shams one would be encounter the ever friendly mountain goats. You will spot them either on land or on top of a tree: so keep an eye out for them!
Jebel Shams Balcony Walk
Balcony Walk, also known as Al Nakhar Rim Hikem is a fairly easy hike that is suitable for family and friends who are moderately fit. Although it is the easiest in Jebel Shams, the walk requires a moderate amount of physical ability to be able to withstand the drop and rock climbs en route.
The hike takes route from Al Khateem/Khitaym village, just past the Jebel Shams Resort, where you would find signs by the Ministry of Tourism guiding you way. It is a slightly steep path downward where you would eventually reach the abandoned village of Al Sab. Along the way there are opportunities to stop and take pictures of the view (or venture into an unknown path!).
Overall hike time would take around 2.5 hours.
I suggest enjoying the sparkling stars in the night sky after your hike!
Jebel Shams Camping
Oman is a camp free country. You have two choices when it comes to camping:
- 1- Camp at Jebel Shams resort for $15 and be allowed to use their restroom
- Set up camp by the edge of the mountain where you can catch the sunrise while overlooking the valley
If you go for the second option make sure you arrive before 4 pm as it gets pitch black when the sun goes down.
Jebel Shams Tour
If you are travelling solo or are not comfortable with driving, I suggest taking one of those tours where Jebel Shams is covered. These tours are chosen based on providing the best value for money.
Misfat Al Abryeen & Jebel Shams
A little on the expensive side in comparison to driving but nonetheless a good value tour which covers the essentials of what you need to see around the Jebel Shams area.
Jebel Shams & Nizwa Tour From Muscat
A reasonably priced tour which covers the Jebel Shams mountain top while passing by Nizwa. I would recommend making the most of it and hopping into the Nizwa Souq for authentic Omani souvenirs.
Also, check out these Nizwa instagrammable views below!
#5 – Resturant in Jebel Shams
As a foodie this is the most important section of the guide that I am passionate about the most. After a long hike through the mountains one deserves to treat him/herself to a feast. Unfortunately, there aren’t many options in Jebel Shams BUT i sorted it out 2 for this recommendation. Even lonely planet fails at finding a suggestion to offer (go ahead, check it out). Here is my list for the top 2 locations to feast in Jebel Shams:
- Coffee Shop @ Jebel Shams Resort. Processed juice and snacks to go.
- Resturant @ Sama Heights Resort.
If you’re really hungry there is a Pizza Hut in Nizwa that I am sure won’t disappoint.
#6 – Hotel in Jebel Shams
When it comes to accomdation there isn’t really much choices to go for. There is only 2 to be exact. There two reasons this.
One being is that most Omanis camp at Jebel Shams or drive back after a day trip. Second, is due to the recent spike in tourism, investment are slowly coming in to Jebel Shams as the influx of foreign and local tourist rise. Keep in mind that Omani’s are just beginning to explore their country much as any other traveler out there.
The two contenders for hotels in Jebel Shams are:
- Jabal Shams Villa ($140/nt)
- Sama Heights Resort ($85+/nt)
Top Hotel Pick in Jebel Shams
I would easily go for Sama Heights Resort. Not only is it cheaper but I believe it offers a more authentic experience. I would also only recommend their two cheapest room options “The Arabic Tent” and “The Bungalow” for one reason: A local’s experience. To be fair, the idea of camping in Oman is pretty luxurious. You have a bed, electricity, and maybe even a mini fridge, but the idea remains the same: camping is still camping. Why close yourself of to a room when you can pretend to be on an episode of NatGeo’s “insert favorite wilderness show”.
If you are planning to visit Jabal Al Akhdar or Wadi Ghul as part of your trip, then I would recommend staying in Nizwa. Nizwa is a historic city 2 hours away from Muscat and has a lot of sightseeing to offer. Its highlight is the traditonal Nizwa Souq which still retains its authenticity as opposed to the Mutrah Souq found in Muscat.
Distance from Nizwa to each of the stated destinations:
- Nizwa to Jebel Shams: 1.5 hours or 140km each way. Difficult road and 4×4 recommended.
- Nizwa to Jabal Al Akhdar: 1 hour or 40km each way. It take 20-30 minutes to reach a checkpoint before being allowed to cross. 30-40 from the checkpoint to reach the mountain top with a all the view. Steep and windy roads make a 4×4 vehicle a must.
- Nizwa to Wadi Ghul: less than an hour or 35km each way. If you are headed to Jebel Shams first, I would not recommend going there unless you have the time to spare. Wadi Ghul is contended to be the Grand Canyon of Oman but I would argue with itss right to the title. You will find better views of the canyon from Jebel Shams. Since it is a wadi a 4×4 vehicle is also recommended.
Simultaneously, you could stay at any of your end destinations.
Top Hotel Pick in Nizwa
Golden Tulip Hotel Nizwa (around $120/nt): This is a 4 star hotel situated just at the borders of Nizwa and next Birkat Al Mouz. On your way out in the morning you can stop by Birkat Al Mouz for a quick photo op of of Oman’s hidden attractions. I recommend this hotel as it is the only in Nizwa that has an international standard that I approve of. For around the same price (or $20 less) other hotels in Nizwa won’t give you the peace of mind or value of money you deserve after a long drive.
Camel Oasis Luxury Hotel Pick
If you are simply looking for something not so far from Jebel Shams, being your main attraction, than I recommend The View hotel. It’s the best in the area in terms of luxuruy, dining and views. The rooms are situated towards the cliff and afford fabulous views of the mountain terrain. The resturant on site offer one of the best dining views in Oman!If you like the content you see and would want to visit Jebel Shams, don’t hesitate to ask questions below! Would love to hear your thoughts.