While not technically a running in Muscat post….it was trekking in Muscat!
On our last full day in Muscat, Stephen and I decided to leave the kids in the hotel and find a hike in the area. I researched local hikes and it appeared the popular suggestion was a trek of Muttrah and Riyam (both neighborhoods in Muscat). There were estimates on 1- 4 hours duration depending on if a loop was done versus out and back. We decided to make it a loop and walk along the Corniche to return back to the car.
The hike was rated as easy by Oman Tourism and I was able to print a map. The very friendly concierge at the hotel just looked at me oddly when I asked about this hike. I also found a link to download the hiking map on my phone (yes!). I was a little worried about losing the path markers based on my reading and slightly more worried about finding the starting point.
It turned out that the start was exactly as explained and there was even a sign posted from the Oman Tourism. The start of the hike was behind a house next to a pipe (so simple)! The board had some general information concerning the hike and the area. It stated that the rocks have formed due to undersea volcanic eruptions, and this is the “best exposed ophilolite sequence in the world”.
The hike started up the hills following an old diesel pipe that was in use until about 40 years ago. The diesel pipe dates to old Oman. At one time, there was only one power station in Oman (and it was in Riyam). The pipe would carry fuel from the port (off a ship) to the power station. At that time, the hike was a well-traveled path to bring locals into Muscat. The trail started with some slab stones that formed a staircase (which would soon disappear).
The yellow/white/red trail markers were painted on rocks and were generally easy to find. Immediately it was apparent that “easy” in Oman is not my “easy”. We have done a fair amount of hiking and the uneven terrain, slippery rocks, and hide’n’seek nature of the trail were definitely moderate. We were glad that we left the kids at home; the slippery rocks were challenging. The volcanic rocks towered around us. The was hardly a bush or shrub to be seen until we returned to the Muttrah neighborhood although we did pass by lone two trees.
The initial climb was one of the more challenging sections of the hike and we had the full sun for this portion. It was a steep pathway up with craggy rocks along the side. However, we were soon rewarded for our efforts. After the first climb, you are able to see the Incense Burner and parts of Riyam below. The white houses are a classic Omani view.
Even though we started early in the morning; the sun was in full view and it was already quite warm. Luckily we had quite a bit of shade from the surrounding mountains. A little shade makes a huge difference in Oman! We even had an occasional breeze.
The hills were still rocky and steep through this section and we had some flat sections. There was one last climb to a view point over the harbor and Corniche.
After showcasing the views, the trail descended down to the valley floor. I am not sure if the descent was any easier than the ascent. There were some stone and brick remains of an old village at the bottom. There was also a tree that provides for a shaded seat and would have been nice for a lunch or snack.
The trail wandered through a valley of wadis. We saw very little water at the time but you can imagine water running through the entire area after a rainstorm. The rocks were quite slippery without any water and there was a bit of scrambling at times. We had shade for most of the time since we were surrounding by high rocks on either side.
The last section of the hike leads through an old cemetery. The streets of Muttrah were just on the other side of the cemetery. I covered my shoulders with a light weight scarf for modesty at this point.
Even though it was a Friday (which is a weekend day); we only saw 2 other people on the trail. We then worked our way to the water’s edge and followed the Corniche back towards the park for our car. The entire hike and walk along the water took us about 1.5 hours.
I didn’t run outdoors in Muscat. It was too hot to wear long-sleeves and capris. Muscat is an extremely conservative Muslim town and although no one would have stopped me while running; I chose to utilize the hotel gym. So no outdoor running in Egypt or Oman. And its likely no outdoor running in India. Luckily we have several hotel stays in our future which makes exercise easy. My current favorite yoga streaming site is DownDog. I love that I chose the length, the type of practice, and the difficulty!