Lee Barton felt the morning chill while waiting at the petrol station near Sultan Centre in Qurum for the car that would take him and his companion to the starting point of the Sultana Trail.
It wasn’t as cold as the winter in his home country in the United Kingdom and only visiting Oman for about a week, they were trying to maximise their travel as best as they can.
He and his companion are avid hikers travelling to different countries from Sri Lanka to South Africa and never missed checking out the hiking trails
In Oman, the first thing they checked were easy and convenient hikes and chanced upon a post by Oman Outdoor Adventure who together with Hiko Adventure, scheduled a weekend Friday hike to Yiti’s scenic trail, the Sultana Trail.
At the starting point, they were joined by about 20 other participants two of which are the group leaders Munther al Jaabri and Ahmed al Jaabri.
“The hike is about 45 minutes to an hour long to reach the peak. We will spend a few minutes at the top and wait for the sunrise. Then we will descend to Sultana Beach, eat the packed breakfast each of you brought and will take a different route through a wadi back to this location,” Munther instructed.
“We should be back at around 10 or 11,” he added.
Bandar al Khairan and Yiti are two of the closest locations in Muscat for a fun hike. Yiti has several fun trails but the Sultana Trail is beginning to become a favourite.
During this day, there were two other groups who were headed the same way but started later in the day. The other groups had children with them so they take the route by the wadi.
The first 30 minutes of the hike was an easy ascent to a stark, treeless landscape. The mountain peaks in the distance make up for a good photograph especially that the sky was painted red-orange by the rising sun.
Getting to the peak was a revelation and it was what everyone came for as the view was priceless. To the left was a fascinating view of the greater Yiti coastal area and dotting the beach are the old houses of villagers who call Yiti home. There were a few campers right at the foot of the mountain and at around 7am, the beach area is already alive with different activities.
To the right is the well-hidden Sultana beach.
Descending to the beach is a bit challenging as the side of the mountain is not pure stones and rocks but a mixture of both with very fine sand flown by strong wind from the beach. While amateur hikers can definitely do it with right guidance from more experience trekkers, a few slips and falls had been noted from the participants who took it in stride.
Sultana Beach is an interesting location. While shielded by the mountains, the waves coming from the ocean is quite strong and at a very early winter morning, the water was cold. The mountain at the far right end is also an interesting feature as erosion has revealed a nice pallette of orange and red like the mountain was bleeding warm colours.
“No one really knew how the name Sultana Beach came about. Someone might have used it in the past and it just stuck,” Ahmed al Jaabri, who hailed from the area, shared.
“When the water is calm, this is a great spot for water activities like kayaking and snorkelling. There had been a few campers on the beach in the past as this is a totally private and unique destination,” he added.
“Every now and then, fishermen from the nearby village come here also but we are noticing that its popularity is growing amongst hikers and campers. We’ve already made more than half a dozen trips to this destination,” he shared.
“If people want to come here with kids, they can do so but they need to take the wadi trail. The mountain trail, we will not really recommend it as even when we were not carrying anything, the descent was a real challenge with even experience hikers slipping every now and then,” he shared.
“Personally, I think this is a great destination for a weekend fun hike. It’s near, accessible with a great view to enjoy. If it’s your first time though, I would really suggest getting a guide,” he noted.
For Lee Barton and the other expats who joined the trip, it was really worth it.
“It was a good hike. The view was amazing and something that can definitely be done in a few hours with room for doing something more later in the day,” he said.
“For us however, it’s either trekking the Balcony Walk in Jabal Shams or going to Wadi Shab as some participants recommended,” he said.
“But we can’t wait to also just chill in a great hotel like Shangrila Barr al Jissah. That is definitely on the plan,” he said.