We had a delicious and diverse breakfast outside. We were only guests who did so, the baristas were a bit confused and told us that breakfast tables are inside. We beat the rules because it was just gorgeous to sit in the tropic garden at the pool, birds singing around and enjoy omelet, fruits, pancakes and coffee. By the way, in the next morning already three tables at the pool were taken and waiters brought coffee without asking specially.
This day was planned to be relaxing and reading at the pool. It was so nice just to bath there, read excellent books (I had The Olive Season by Carol Drinkwater and would definitely recommend it as a travel reading). We also had Lonely Planet guidebook and Oman Off-road Explorer for reading.
It is one of the excellent reasons for making the trip by yourself that if you don’t want to do anything you are not committed to anything except for returning to airport. But from the other hand you want to see as much as possible and only yourself are responsible for the success of the trip. So, after “baking” ourselves under the hot sun for an hour, we already started to make the plans. We did not want to go for a long drive. Jebel Akhdar looked for us as a perfect destination for a day.
Jebel Akhdar (الجبل الأخضر translated as Green Mountain) is one of the most beautiful sights we visited during our Oman trip. Jebel Akhdar is not really a mountain, it is area of Saiq Plateau, at 2000 meters above sea level. Here the temperature is about 10 degrees less than in Nizwa, so after the heating ourselves at 36 degrees Celsius, 25 at plateau seemed pretty cool air.
Recently a permit was required in order to go to Jebel Akhdar because it was a military zone. Now you need to have the travel document with you, as there is a military control before entering the plateau. There is also a rule that only the cars with four-wheel-drive are allowed to enter the territory, as some of the roads are really steep. Conveniently there is a car rental at Birkat Al Mawz.
The road from the village to plateau is excellent – for car and for driver. The drive is very scenic. Up at the plateau there are many villages, one hotel, a maze of roads and trails. It is really different from the Nizwa surrounding which are just 30 minutes away.
Oman Off-road Explorer suggested that if you have only three hours, Diana’s check point is a must see. So we picked this as a first destination. This marvelous promontory with commanding views got the name after Princess Diana’s visit with helicopter at 1990. The terraces and villages Al Aqur, Al Ayn and Ash Shirayjah are clearly seen and the view can not be better, it is just so gorgeous.
After enjoying the view we also drove to Al Ayn. The drive down was really steep and droving back up was even harder. But walking there, in the middle of the village life, was amazing. The cats, the children, the terraces – it all was just there.
After enjoying the beauty of Sayq plateau we drove back to Nizwa and decided that this night we will try some other restaurant for a dinner. Lonely Planet suggested Al-Zuhul and we decided to go for it. The guidebook said that it is opposite to the mosque and souq. We started from wrong side of the parking slot, but as locals are very friendly, with their understanding of our pronouncements directed us to the right place.
The food here was second best (after Zaki in Sur) and the price was close to nothing - 5.200 OMR (11 EUR) dinner for four people including fresh juices.