How often do we drive around Muscat and fail to see the beauty that surrounds us. Maybe we take it for granted to some degree, after all, it’s always there, or most likely, we are just too pre-occupied with our daily routine. If you love to hike and get off the beaten track, it is incredible what is available to explore right under your nose.
My wife and I recently took some friends on the ‘Riyam to Muttrah’ hike.This is essentially a short excursion, but with some very interesting twists and turns, not to mention a number of outstanding vantage points to survey the beautiful port of Muttrah and surrounding mountains.
The ‘staircase’ opposite Riyam Park
Once you have checked your gear and supplies, particularly ensuring that you have sufficient water to stay hydrated, It is advisable to start from the car park in Riyam Park and ascend the rocky ‘staircase’ behind the residential properties. This represents the steepest part of the 1.8km hike and just requires a nice, leisurely pace to ease into the experience. Once at the top of the steps, you will follow the path (and a long brown metal pipe) for around 200m and at the top of a small slope, the path reaches an open area that offers an amazing vista of the port below. You can scramble a short way up the ridge from the path for an even wider view.
Great views of Muttrah port
Follow the path that is marked on the rocks with flags in yellow, orange and red. Your route should be running parallel with the corniche and port below.The path narrows and begins to descend steeply into a valley surrounded by the mountains and featuring the ruined remnants of an old village. This is a perfect spot to rest a while under the broad trees’ canopies before effectively turning right and entering the narrow wadi which continues the descent to Muttrah.
The old village foundations
Once in the wadi, simply follow the river bed’s winding course and remember to look up and appreciate the mountainsides that form the steep gorges.As with any wadi excursion, you should check the local weather forecast before departing and not attempt the hike if rain is present or anticipated. Naturally, the degree of difficulty of the descent is greatly reduced in dry conditions when there is little or no water present. Walking along the dry river bed compared to leaping and scrambling diagonally across the flowing river is much more acceptable to the less athletic among us!
Navigate your way through the wadi
After forty five minutes or so, obviously depending on your pace and natural conditions, you will see a signpost and painted flag marker on the left side of a wide sharp bend in the river bed, this path is a steep, short climb and reveals the cemetery at the rear of Muttrah and the path descends here and passes through to the streets below that lead to the corniche, close to the Muttrah Souq entrance. Once at the corniche, you turn right and follow the main road back to the exit to Riyam Park.
The final stage – into Muttrah through the cemetery
This hike should take around two hours at a leisurely pace and is worth the effort.An early morning start ensures you have the rest of your day to enjoy other activities and most importantly avoids the hottest time of day.
Hike distance – Circa 1.8km
Suitable for children over 5 years
Difficulty – Easy to moderate
Time to complete – 1 hour 45 minutes approx
Take at least 2 litres of water per person