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The name of this webpage, hajarhiking, comes from Hajar which is both the name of the mountains and Arabic for rock. It is a practical guide for hiking in the Western Hajar, which is the western portion of the main mountain range in the Sultanate of Oman. The best walking weather in Oman is from mid November to March. The traverse follows the spine of the mountains in a point-to-point walk taking sixteen days. It consists of eight one-day walks, two two-day walks and one four-day walk. There is a road intersection with a village or hotel between each of these eleven sections making it practical to walk sections rather than the full traverse. The track climbs to the highest accessible peak in the country at 2999m and finishes in remote dry valleys, called wadis, where impregnable cliffs have precluded road construction and electricity transmission. This has preserved the Arabian mountain lifestyle that has existed for centuries.Exploring the Hajar Mountains with my family and Omani companions was my passion during the sixteen years I spent living in Oman. My ambition with this project is to resurrect the historic trading routes connecting the mountain villages, enabling walking tourists to help sustain an emerging hospitality industry that uses some of the ancient village houses as hotel rooms, which otherwise will fall into ruin. An example of walkers' economic impact is the 630 mile South West Coastal Path in the U.K. which contributes 5% of the tourism spend in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, and 76% of this is from overnight walkers.This traverse is for hikers who are competent with GPS navigation, as only six of the sixteen day tracks are marked. There are two shorter options, of which one has two chain ladders that do not require ropes. These options together reduce the traverse to twelve days or make two multi-day circuits, one with hotels and the other entirely in the wilderness. A loop in the traverse can be used to make another three-day wilderness circuit, or can be skipped altogether to further reduce the traverse duration to nine days. In Oman there are no mountain rangers, so this traverse is for experienced hikers who are comfortable looking after themselves. I have selected the route over many years by linking ancient and current donkey trading and walking tracks.This web page has descriptions of where to go, what to carry, where to sleep and most importantly where to find drinking water. This information is repeated in the first three chapters of the book Wilderness Trekking Oman which are available for free download. The remainder of the book is available as a digital purchase and is on sale in paperback from Gilgamesh Publishing and a two-sided A1-sized folded map is available from cordee map distributors. Both the book and map will be sold by WH Smith from their bookshops at the International Airport in Muscat, Oman. The book describes the sights you are likely to encounter on the traverse including geology, the falaj irrigation system and Omani crafts, and provides context for your experiences with chapters on the mountain history and culture. To make the most of the time you will spend meeting Omanis on your journey you will benefit from the book chapter describing the sedentary farming and semi-nomadic pastoralist societies that live there and mountain etiquette.GPX files of the tracks on the 200km traverse, 400km of side tracks, 170km of ultra marathon trail and 266 waypoints are available for free download. These waypoints include villages, hotels, and local names of semi-nomadic pastoral campsites with their plastic water tanks, caves, mountain passes, historic track junctions and remote water sources such as isolated falaj-irrigated gardens, mountain springs, water-dripping cliffs, man-made open reservoirs and wadi dams. Also included are historical features such as Bronze Age tombs and pre-Islamic rock art that are near the traverse.Some hikers may choose to be supported by friends meeting them in a 4WD vehicle at the road intersections marking the ends of the eleven sections. For their benefit this book includes excursions at eight of these ten rendezvous points. There are other possibilities for resupply at all ten road intersections.Read the review by the first couple to finish the traverse who made their journey in January 2020, watch the Anglo-Omani Society presentation and read their magazine article, or watch the lecture at the Sultan Qaboos Cultual Centre in Washington.
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The information on this web page should be used in conjunction with a GPS navigation system containing the waypoints and tracks that were recorded at 10m intervals using a Garmin GPSMAP64s, and 1:50,000-scaled maps that are available as day-walk maps in the days one to sixteen book chapters, and as a single folded map. Also available are digital kmz base maps. Only six of the sixteen days will be on tracks with painted markers, so you must be proficient in using a navigation device such as a Garmin and have a backup loaded with all the tracks and sufficient batteries. Some of the terrain requires remaining within a metre of the actual track, for example to avoid nearby dead-end ledges, but GPS repeatability is only 7m. Route finding on these sections will take time and it is recommended you test your ability with a guide before committing to the whole traverse on your own. Alternatively you could attempt Day-1, Al Afyah to Hadash, without a guide as it is the second most difficult day making a good test of your route-finding skill. This chapter is available for free.As of November 2019 the maps in the book and front and back of the folded map are the only detailed contoured maps of the Western Hajar available to the public. The National Survey Authority (NSA) has reviewed and approved the Roman spelling of the Arabic village names shown on the maps, and issued the registration number 1246 dated 05/11/19 authorising their sale and use in Oman. The names without NSA sources include local names of semi-nomadic pastoral campsites, water-drip cliffs, caves, isolated gardens, mountain passes and historic track junctions. They have a lighter font to indicate their Roman spelling is not approved by the NSA. Waypoints on the map distinguish and locate three sources of drinking water; mountain springs, plastic water tanks and open reservoirs.There are two competing mobile telephone providers in the Western Hajar: Omantel and Ooredoo. They have both built communication towers, which together provide almost complete coverage of the traverse. The newer 4G towers do not have 2G and the older towers only have 2G so you need both your 4G smart phone and a 2G phone, such as the Nokia Dual SIM 2G which can be purchased in Muscat. Prepaid SIM cards from both providers are available at the airport arrival hall or in Muscat. A high-capacity portable power bank can recharge the Nokia numerous times as well as some cameras. Note some airlines have passenger regulations on transporting power banks. Consider charging your iPhones or Android with a mobile pack-mounted solar panel, which only weighs 355g. Poor reception can be enhanced by fixing your mobile to a tree trunk with string instead of holding it.