The Jebel Akdhar forms part of the Hajar range running inland through the heart of Oman. Its name means ‘Green Mountain’ – a reference to the abundance of vegetation above 300m, where a scattering of limestone villages are smothered in vineyards and orchards of pomegranate, walnuts and peach. Blooming in March, damask roses are also grown here with water channelled from the higher slopes in ancient ‘falaj’, or covered conduits. The flowers are used to make the famous local perfume, ‘atar’, prized throughout the Gulf region.
The main reason to venture in the Jebel from Nizwa, though, is to enjoy the superb panoramic views. Accessible only by 4WD, a handful of luxury hotels have been created at vantage points on the rims of deep canyons, where you can marvel at the effect of the changing light on the surrounding cliffs and villages.
The same hotels also provide bases for walks along the trails winding between settlements – the most rewarding way to experience this unique landscape and traditional culture of the local Bani Riyam tribe.