Cycling in Oman: Jebel Shams & Wadi Bani Awf

After the tough ride through the Western Hajar mountains, we continue to Nizwa in two easy days. We camp in the desert a couple of hunderd meters away from the main road and once we arrive in Nizwa we check in into Hotel Al Diyar, not too far from the Souq and Nizwa Fort.

The parking lot in front of the Souq is busy in the early morning hours. We pass trucks with goat and camels filling the street as we find our way to the Goat Souq, because this is the highlight of the Nizwa Souq. People from all around come to Nizwa to sell their live stock. Cows and goat, guided by their owners are walking in circles showing off like models. Omanis are negotiating on the price as many change owner here. We are merely spectators and none of the Omani seems to be bothered by our presence. We continue to roam around the fish souq, vegetable souq and dade souq before we pay a visit to the Nizwa Fort. As everywhere in Oman, exactly at one o’clock everything shuts down and the streets are empty again. We spent the rest of the day at the hotel restaurant enjoying a fresh lemon-mint juice.

The Nizwa Souq


Jebel Shams
The ride up to Jebel Shams, Omans highest mountain, is something we’ve been looking forward to for a while now. It’s not that far from Nizwa, but it’s another tough cookie. The ride up to the end of the valley we make good progress, but then the steep climb starts. 25 kilometer to go! It sounds easy, but it’s not! It takes us almost all day to reach the top. The first 5-6 kilometers are the toughest, it involves more pushing than riding with 20+% grades. It’s terribly steep.. who comes up with these roads?!?! With the heat, and the 8-kilometer unpaved intermezzo it’s hard work again. The views though are getting better and better… As we reach the top the earth seems to have split in two as we look down into a deep bottomless canyon. The sun is setting and temperature  drops.

The ride up Jebel Shams

Another wild camp spot

Wadi Bani Awf
Getting back to the coast from Jebel Shams leaves us two options: either we go around the mountains on the paved highway or we take the Wadi Bani Awf road, which involves another steep climb and an offroad track down into the canyon. According to the guidebooks, the track through Wadi Bani Awf is the most beautiful one in the country… well, no doubt in our minds! We take the tough one and we find ourselves riding up another steep climb to the 2000 meter high pass. The road is paved, traffic is slow, but the wind! Incredible! Headwind is slowing us down even more. As we finally reach the top, we leave the tarmac behind us and we literally drop into a deep canyon. The track turns and twists, passing small settlements on the way down. We reach the bottom of the canyon just a couple of kilometer after we’ve passed the most beautiful football field of Oman… in the middle of nowhere..! A strange place, if you aske me! Then it’s uphill again and pushing is involved. The track is covered in powder dust, which reminds me of Bolivia. At times it’s too steep to ride down, I mean, whith 26% grade I prefer to walk instead of tumbling down! We follow the Snake River Canyon downhill on this bumpy road, I’m glad we chose to ride with 27.5 inch rims and 62mm tires!

Up again to Wadi Bani Awf

Want to play football?

Indeed one of the most beautiful rides in Oman!

Future plans?
We reach asphalt again and via Rustaq we continue straight to the coast. Our Oman adventure has almost come to an end and we decide to celebrate it with a day in a holiday resort. We swim in the sea, drink an alcohol-free mojito at the pool and fill our tummies with delicious food in the buffet restaurant. Completely relaxed we ride the remaining kilometers along the coast to our hotel in Muscat. Here we visit the Souq and the fish market, before we pack everything up again for the flight back to the Netherlands. This adventure has come to an end! Oman has been hot and bone-dry. But, we’ve met very friendly people, camped a lot and enjoyed the desert landscapes. The steep climbs we won’t ever forget!
Yesterday, as we sat by the pool, we were already fantasizing about new destinations, riding our bikes around the world never gets boring! Georgia, Mongolia or maybe back to the States or even South-America? We haven’t figured it out yet…

Holiday time!

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A bikepacking adventure to the Chaukhi pass

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Peter de Visser January 15, 2018 - 12:31
Hoi Elmar/Ellen, Bij het woord "Wadi" denk ik altijd aan het woord "waden". Uh,...wellicht waden in het zweet, maar dan houdt de vergelijking wel op. Petje af wederom. Wij zijn meer koudebestendig. En dan met een kostbaar tentje op de rotsige grond kamperen. Ik krijg al de kriebels als ik scherpe takjes of een puntige denneappel zie liggen voordat ik de tentluier voor ons MSR-etje neerleg.... Annefiets & Pedalpeter
Wim January 15, 2018 - 13:37
Wow what a beautiful country this is, never thought of it. When you ever come to Alberta you guys are very Welkom in our place, loves from a white Nobleford Wim and Astrid
Bicycle Junkies January 21, 2018 - 07:42
Thanks Wim and Astrid! We'll meet again! X
Bill Poindexter January 15, 2018 - 14:43
Nice write up and pictures! Looking forward to more of your adventures, and hoping to "bump" into you boht on the road someday! peace, Bill
Bicycle Junkies January 21, 2018 - 07:42
Thanks Bill and likewise! Happy pedaling!
Marco Rorai January 15, 2018 - 16:13
Hartelijk dank weer voor jullie prachtig verslag en geweldige foto's. Enerzijds schitterende uitzichten, anderzijds wat een bar en onherbergzaam gebied. Dat daar mensen kunnen leven! Op een foto zag ik 3 fietsen voor winkels staan, maar hebben jullie ook mensen zien fietsen daar? Groetjes, Marco Rorai
Bicycle Junkies January 21, 2018 - 07:41
Hi Marco, alleen in de stadjes, daarbuiten een enkel verdwaalde vakantiefietser. ;)
Jan January 15, 2018 - 17:17
Can’t wait to hear where your next adventure will be! Meet us down under maybe??!!
Bicycle Junkies January 21, 2018 - 07:41
Ah, I wish! New Zealand is on our list, but we need at least 6 weeks and that's not possible this year. :(
jos groot January 15, 2018 - 18:00
Hallo Ellen en Elmar wat is ook dit land fascinerend mooi .Ikdacht dat het een zandbak was (hahahaha) maar ik zie inderdaad n totaal anders gebied en dat ook met bergen . Bedankt wederom voor jullie bevindingen met de mooie foto,s .Hopelijk zie ik van jullie dus wederom meer reisverslagen waar ik echt van kan genieten Groetjes Jos
Bicycle Junkies January 21, 2018 - 07:39
Dankjewel Jos! Er komt nog een video van Oman en er ligt nog een post van een wintertochtje in Nederland klaar. We blijven lekker fietsen! Dit jaar waarschijnlijk eerst naar Engeland en later in het jaar misschien toch terug over de Ocean, of dat Noord of Zuid gaat worden, zijn we nog niet over uit. ;)
Jan van Pelt January 15, 2018 - 19:12
Hoi ellen en Elmar goedezvond wat heeft ik weer genoten van jullie verhaal en uiteraard ook de foto,s geweldig gewoon maar ik heeft wel een vraag waarom op 27.5 inch en 62 mm banden he rijd dat niet zwaarder he gr Jan
Bicycle Junkies January 21, 2018 - 07:38
Hoi Jan, dat viel reuze mee! Op asfalt konden we nog lekker doorfietsen en onverhard is het heel comfortabel. Wij willen niet meer terug!
Jan van Pelt January 15, 2018 - 19:32
Hoi wat een geweldig verhaal hebben jullie gemaakt heeft het met vebazing gelezen . En wat een mooi land is het daar om te zijn en ook de foto,s fijne vlucht naar huis weer
Frank March 24, 2018 - 20:36
Hi, correct me if i'm wrong but i thought you had sold all your belongings for a life travelling on bikes and camping. Do you do 'time limited' adventures and then return 'home' and i have misunderstood, or are you truly bike nomads
Bicycle Junkies April 2, 2018 - 14:31
Hi Frank, we did sell our home and quit our jobs for a long distance tour. But as money ran out after 26 months on the road, we went back to the Netherlands. We now both work in the bicycle touring industry at Bike4travel, which is kind of neat! ;)
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