Distant view over terraces of Al Jabal al Akhdar

Al Jabal al Akhdar

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The Green Mountain  
Al Jabal al Akhdar lies at the heart of Al Hajar, the mountains of northern Oman  (see satellite image). The image will open in a separate window.  The size is 72.5K and the file takes up to 30 seconds to download fully at 28.8Kbps.  

The town of Saiq New buildings in Saiq, which lies at the highest altitude of the towns of Oman.  The town stretches over an extensive plateau at the summit of Al Jabal al Akhdar, where the mountains reach heights of 3,000 m or more.
Structurally, Al Jabal al Akhdar is a huge anticline flanked by hard limestones of Jurassic to Cretaceous age and ophiolites, enthrusted mantle rocks.  The core of the anticline has been eroded to reveal older rocks dating back through the Permian to the early Precambrian. 
Unconformity, Wadi bani Kharus Tillite, Wadi bani Kharus
Angular unconformity between tilted Palaeozoic rocks and overlying Permian limestones.  The time gap between deposition of the the two series is estimated at 300 million years.  Wadi bani Kharus. Tillite, an ancient boulder clay deposited perhaps 600 million years ago when Oman lay in a cold climate zone.  Wadi bani Kharus.
Night temperatures can drop below zero centigrade in winter from November until March, and snow is not unknown.  Conversely, the climate is very pleasant in the height of summer and the jabal is a welcome retreat for campers with four wheel drive vehicles. 
Meeting at the tap in Saiq Village in the clouds, December
Ladies meet at a government installed cistern in Saiq to collect water and exchange gossip.  Bit cold in December. Village clings to the hillside under lowering cloud in winter.
Several major wadis drain Al Jabal al Akhdar: Wadis bani Awf, Sahtan and bani Kharus north to Al Batinah, and Wadi Ghul to the south. 
Wadi bani Awf Beehives in Wadi Sahtan
A view of Wadi bani Awf.
Bee-keeping in Wadi Sahtan.  The hives are hollowed out date palms.
The way of life remains traditional with scattered communities growing date palms and fodder crops fed by groundwater and springs. 
Groundwater seeping from wadi gravel Terraced agriculture conserves soil and water
Groundwater seeps from alluvial gravel in Wadi Sahtan. The hill farmers have long used terracing to conserve their precious resources of soil and water.  Agriculture here is spring-fed.
In the more sheltered areas, a variety of tree crops are grown, such as almonds, walnuts, apricots, peaches, figs and pomegranates. Pomegranates are prized.  The best specimens can fetch as much as $15 for ten pieces in local souqs (markets). 
Smallholding and orchard Prize pomegranates
A small-holding seen through the bare branches of an orchard in winter.  A few pomegranates still hang from the trees.
Prize pomegranates.
Other major occupations are perfume-making from flowers and weaving.  Sheeps' wool is used to make colourful rugs costing between $15 to $60, if you know how to bargain.  The prices will be much more in shops in the capital.  Note the sheep-skin water container hanging in the top left-hand corner of the picture. Carpets for sale on Jabal Shams
Physical conditions of life may be hard on Al Jabal al Akhdar, but traditions of culture and hospitality endure and thrive. 
Village nestles in valley Children on Jabal Shams
A village nestling in the valley below Sharfat al Alamayn, the viewpoint over Al Jabal al Akhdar.
Children on Jabal Shams

The Al Jabal Al-Akhdhar Hotel is now open to guests, lying on the road to Saiq amongst the villages of the plateau.  Access is from Birkat al Mauz on the road to Nizwa.  You used to need permission from the military to ascend to the plateau, but Reinhard Siegl ofOman Trekking tells me that this is no longer necessary. However, you will not be allowed to ascend the mountain unless you have a four-wheel drive vehicle to tackle the steep, winding road.  The hotel management can probably advise on this for you.  
Phone: +968 25429009  Fax: +968 25429119

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