Could the trail that leads to Oman’s Jebel Shams be the Middle East’s most dazzling driving route?
With a difficult climb over gravel roads which exhibit the jaw-dropping splendor of Oman’s excellent mountain landscape, it is really one of the region’s Greatest Driving Routes – a new video collection that highlights the skills of the new Ford Ranger. You can see the video here.
Set in the heart of the Al Hajar Mountain range, Jebel Shams is a 3.5-hour drive from the Omani capital of Muscat, and just over 4 hours from the UAE border crossing at Al Ain. At over 3000m, it is the perfect factor in Oman, and there is an access road that takes visitors to the summit.
As a device for exploration, the Ranger is the ideal vehicle to take you there. With its on-demand all-wheel-drive system, torquey petrol and turbo-diesel engines, cargo tray potential and cosy and well-appointed interiors, the Ranger is flawlessly suitable to deal with the most difficult off-road driving routes the vicinity has to offer.
The region attracts lots of travelers each and every year, drawn to the natural beauty of the mountains and the access to amazing trails, picnic spots and camping areas it offers. It’s also perfect for astronomers who can experience unobstructed views of the night time sky from the mountain’s southern plateau.
The route that leads to the summit is peppered with hairpins, off-camber bends and a gravel road that hugs the mountain as it climbs sharply up the mountain. The route delivers visitors to the lower southern summit where they can see the incredible Wadi Ghul and Wadi Nakhr, colloquially known as the Grand Canyon of the Middle East.
“It is just a very calm place, where locals come to relax and experience nature,” stated Omani guide and episode host Aiman Mossa Al Tobi. “The road to Jebel Shams offers you a actual sense of journey as you drive over it, particularly in the final two kilometres where the sharp turns, steep rises and falls, and slender roads provide you a taste of thrilling driving. The fine part is that once you’re at the top, the only way down is via the same road, so you get to experience it twice.”
The route is navigable in two-wheel-drive when it’s dry but the added protection of the Ranger’s four-wheel-drive helps all year around. The Ranger’s engine torque makes convenient work of even the steepest sections while its ground clearance helps when negotiating the difficult grey limestone viewing areas and sharp rocks that lie just off-piste.
The southern summit rewards you with splendid views of the main summit and the precipitous Wadi Nakhr canyon where you can get as close to the area of the massive drop as you dare.
The fine times to drive the route are at both end of the day. Sunset on the mountain is staggering, and sunrise frequently illuminates Jebel Shams and the surrounding peaks in a prosperous orange glow of morning light. But it really doesn’t count that much because the views make the day out an unforgettable experience regardless of the time of day you see them. Jebel Shams is definitely one of the region’s Greatest Driving Routes.