Jabel Shams is the highest peak in Oman and across the Arabian Gulf. Located in Hajar mountain range. This name is combination of two Arabic words where Jebal means Mountain and Shams means Sun. Name of location in Arabic is written as جبل شمس.
Located at around 250km from Muscat City. Jabel Shams is one of the most popular tourist destination in the region, which is well known for breathtaking views of Wadis and Canyon popularly known as the Grand Canyon of Arabia.
At an altitude of 3000 meters temprature is cooler than Muscat. Be it summer of winter, the hiking to Jabel Shams is never to miss. For those residents and locals who love outdoor activities including camping Jabel Shams is choice of many.
Jabel Shams is popular for outdoor Activities like Mountain Climbing, Hiking, Trekking, Trail Running and Mountain biking, and camping of course.
Jabel Shams weather is pleasant. Tepmrature in winter is is freezing cold at night, but during the day in winter it is pleasant. In winter the minimum temperature is -2°C and maximum 16°C whereas in summer minimum is 13°C and maximum is 24°C.
In this post I will be sharing my experience of Solo Travel to Jabel Shams and Hiking at W4 (Summit) which was a 3 days trip from 25th till 27th November, 2020.
Solo Trip to Jabel Shams
COVID19 has turned the world upside down. I usually prefer to do group activities. But due to current pandemic and restrictions, we decided not to go as a group. Which means travel, accommodation and hiking has to be solo.
It was hard for me to decide as I never prefer travelling, camping and hiking alone. But as the hiking is never solo because you see hundreds of people doing hiking every day. So I decided to travel to Jabel Shams on long weekend (4 National Day Holidays from 25th November till 28th November). It was the best time to celebrate the National Day of of Oman by hiking highest peak of Oman.
Checklist of Items
I will be mainly dividing checklist for Camping and Hiking, in case you plan to stay in Hotel or Resort then you don’t need the camping items, but if you decide to do camping either at the summit or at starting point the list will be helpful. Even you have multiple options of camping camping at camping site outside resort or camping facilitated by Jabel Shams resort of Sama Heights Resort.
Items for Camping
- Tent (waterproof recommended)
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Camping pillow
- Headlamps or flashlights (and extra batteries)
- Camp chairs
- Cool Box
- Water (drinking and washing)
- Items for Campfire
- Power Bank
- Mobile Phone
- Portable Battery Jumper (in case of emergency)
- Clean and dry clothes to sleep in
SUV as Campervan
As I travelled solo in my SUV (Ford Explorer) and decided to sleep overnight inside the SUV, which gave a luxuries feeling of Campervan or motor home.
I planned for it as I was travelling alone, so I had enough space in my car, therefore I kept comforter and blanket too to ensure comfortable sleep (before and after the summit hiking)
Items for Hiking (Summit)
- Off road shoes (Trail Running or Hiking)
- Hiking Socks to avoid blisters
- Hiking Bag (Camelback)
- Water at least 4 Liters (6 Liters in Summer)
- Energy (snacks, dates)
- Lunch (Subway Full size recommended)
- Sahara cap/hat
- Full sleeves/fully covered clothing
- Sun protection and sunglasses
- Hiking poles (optional, will help)
- Camera (optional)
- Binocular (optional)
- Headlamp (must)
- Windbreak Jacket (Recommended in winter)
Driving to Jabel Shams
Great views and rock formations. I drove from Muscat and it is worth doing it even alone. I will not recommend to take saloon car, though it is possible to drive to the top, up to the resort but 4X4 is recommended.
I drove from my home to Jabel Shams at a normal speed and it took me 4 hours to reach to the camping area behind Sama Heights Resort. Where I took breaks for refreshment and lunch.
I topped up our fuel tank from Muscat and then at Al Hamra as there are no fuel stations available after that. e available. It takes around 1:30 hours to cover up the 38 km from down till the camping site of the Jebel Shams. It is pure tarmac road till 26 kms and further 12 kms of gravel and sandy road. A SUV is highly preferred in this area.
The drive itself was adventurous with steep roads and hair pins around the giant canyons. Just a few kms before the resorts there is a small coffee shop with public toilet.
Camping at Jabel Shams
As I decided to use SUV as camper Van but I was also able to pitch out my own tent. To use toilet and showever facility there is an option in the Jebel Shams resort in their sun shade camping area with 6 OMR per person without food and 16 OMR half board.
Because of the climate, there were only a few people camping and I do not recommend camping in November/December with kids. Sept – Nov would be better. And it is really safe to camp in Oman. I second all the opinions in that regards.
If you want to to the camping only then use these coordinates to drive to the camping area
GPS Coordinates : 23.204764, 57.201815 or 23°12’17.2″N 57°12’06.5″E
If you are doing W4 Summit I will recommend to do camping at the start point where you can park the car and can camp too.
GPS Coordinates : 23.228335, 57.205646 or 23°13’42.0″N 57°12’20.3″E
I parked the car under the shade of tree which was a good choice I will recommend this place.
GPS Coordinates : 23.227556, 57.204162 or 23°13’39.2″N 57°12’15.0″E
Don’t be confused with the location, just before the entrance of Sama Heights resort, turn right on gravel road. You will find enough space for Camping.
This place is at an altitude of 2000m.
Night before Hiking
I reached 5:00 PM enjoyed the sunset. Till 10:00 PM it was fine but after that it was freezing cold. I kept the sunroof half opened to get fresh air and ventilation. Surprisingly I was peacefully sleeping and could sleep more than 8 hours and got up early morning by 5:00 AM.
Jabel Shams Summit Hike
The hike is a full day and is best experienced . It does require a certain level of fitness as the journey is an uphill effort of a 1,000M elevation change from start to finish. There is some scrambling required but I would say most anyone can handle that effort. There are no even surfaces. The entire route requires that you navigate stones on the pathway.
Most of the national trails in Oman are marked with paint and same is with the W4 Route too. You will see the marking easily with naked eyes throughout the course.
The total Distance from Starting point till the top is approximate 11.5 KM and back 11.5 KM which means the total distance of 22km (+/-)
You will start at an altitude of 1920m (at base) and will reach to 2990 meters, Total elevation gain is 1500 approximate with rolling hills.
Depending upon your device I have provided the route map from my Activity.
My average moving time was 6 hours 30 minutes and the total time was 10 hours 30 minutes. I returned at 4:30 PM. As I mentioned it is a full day trip.
on 26th November at 5:55 AM when I started it was dark, so I used head lamp for half an hour.
I mentioned about snacks and electrolyte in checklist. I did my breakfast after completing 1 hour of hiking. Breakfast included small bottle of Coke and 2 Croissant (you try it you will love it 🙂
Energy (Proteins) bars or dates is also recommended. I reached at the top by 10:45 AM and enjoyed the weather, did photography. I was the first person on that day to reach to the top.
Then my fellow runners also arrived in 30 minutes and then we had our Lunch and left back at 12:00 PM. We walked slowly and enjoyed the wildest terrain and most breathtaking landscapes and viewpoints throughout the course.
I finished the hiking at 4:45 PM and had enough time to relax and enjoy the sunset. Though you can finish the complete summit and travel in just one day.
But in my opinion, you should spend some time to enjoy and give rest to your body. But it all depends; you can start from Muscat by 3:00 AM, start hiking at 7 AM, finish hiking at 4:00 PM and
Things to do in Jabel Shams
Before you leave Jabel Shams, make sure you see other places around.
Jabel Shams Balcony Walk
there is shorter trail of 4km (W6) which is known as balcony walk. It is easier and good for kids too.
Jabel Shams view Point
This is a nice spot to have a splendid view overall the mountains and Canyon . It is safer as you can approach edge without fear.
Jabel Shams Souvenir
You will get local items from the Jabel Shams Souvenir just at the Jabel Shams view point near Jabel Shams resort.