Thursday, July 5, 2012

#966 Jebel Shams, Oman

Labeling something the Grand Canyon of somewhere is a little bit unfair -- perhaps people need to know of places in their own right? Nevertheless, if Oman had a Grand Canyon, it would be Jebel Shams. It is the highest mountain in Oman, and yet its highest point is quite flat. Its spectacular aspect is in how it drops away, and in the shapes and colours and views from the top.

Looking over the deserts and mountains of Oman from the top, or hanging over the edge is a special experience. If there is time, an hour's walk into the center of the gorge leads to the abandoned village of Sap Bani Khamis, which hangs precariously to the inside cliffs. 15 families lived there until 30 years ago, and ecked out a minimalistic living with a tiny orchard, olives and other basic crops grown on the tiny terraces.

You wouldn't expect somewhere in the middle east to be cold either, but in winter it can drop to below 0 degrees Celcius. A small tent camp at the top is the only civilization to be found anywhere nearby.

Majestic, simple, ancient, beautiful.

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