The natural beauty of Oman genuinely amazed me. We spent one week in Oman and went from one stunning natural wonder to the next, exploring the varied desert landscapes.
Jebel Shams and Wadi Ghul left me completely awestruck. Also known as Oman’s Grand Canyon, Wadi Ghul is a 500m deep canyon located alongside Jebel Shams, the highest mountain in the Hajar mountains.
We did a hike called the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk, which goes all along the Wadi Ghul canyon edge. It’s one of the most incredible hikes I’ve ever done!
I couldn’t find much information about it online before, which is why I put together this Jebel Shams Balcony Walk guide! I’ve included information about the hike, how to get there, what to expect, where to stay and more.
I hope you find it useful in planning your own trip to Jebel Shams and Wadi Ghul!
About the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk
The Jebel Shams Balcony Walk is a 4km hike with around 200m in elevation change. You start at 1,900m at the rim of the Wadi Ghul canyon and go as low as 1,700m.
It’s a return hike (in that you go all the way to the end point, and then hike back to the start). The hike takes around 3-4 hours, depending on how many photo and food breaks you take.
The trail isn’t very well paved, with rocks and small boulders that you have to climb over, but it’s easy to follow. It’s a fairly narrow trail that goes all along the canyon rim, considering you can only go straight so it would be hard to get lost.
The Jebel Shams Balcony Walk is one of the most stunning hikes I’ve ever done.
Once you get below the canyon rim you’ll find yourself hiking with the steep canyon sides on your left, and the 500m plunge into the nothingness of the Wadi Ghul canyon on the other.
Before going to Jebel Shams I’d read stories online about how the trail was super narrow and you had to walk single file along it, with a constant fear of tumbling into the canyon.
It made me pretty wary of visiting, but I was glad to find that wasn’t the case.
While it’s true that the trail is mostly single file (you’d struggle to fit two people hiking next to each other) the path doesn’t drastically fall into nothingness.
On the immediate right of the trail (or left when you’re hiking back) there is a fairly gradual incline, with rocks and occasionally small brushes.
The risk of tumbling into the 500m canyon isn’t as high as some online sites were making it out to be.
Towards the end of the trail you will reach some abandoned houses and fields. After this you can walk onwards to a small waterfall but that pretty much marks the end of the hike, where you then turn back.
There are no facilities whatsoever at any point during the hike. Even the small town where the trail starts offers very little, so make sure to bring with you everything you need.
How to get to the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk
The road leading up to Jebel Shams Balcony Walk is unpaved so you will need either a 4×4 or jeep type of car to drive on it. Once you arrive at Al Khitaym there will be an area where you can park your car.
Here you will also find some stalls where local women sell bracelets and other types of souvenirs.
Just walk ahead after the souvenir stands and you will see the start of the trail, highlighted with red, white and yellow markers. If you don’t feel like driving there and hiking alone, you can also do a guided hiking tour.
Where to stay to visit Jebel Shams & Wadi Ghul
Jebel Shams is 240km away from Muscat. However the drive to get there can be very long, since most of the roads on the Al Hajar mountains aren’t paved.
The winding and rocky mountain roads are beautiful, but you need to drive slowly over them to stay safe.
The closest town is Misfat Al Abrynn, also known as Oman’s “mud town”. When you visit it, it will be easy to see why.
We stayed at hotel Hissen Al-Misfah which had a rooftop with stunning views over the town and surrounding mountains.
By staying in Misfat Al Abrynn you will pair seeing one of the best things in Oman with being conveniently located close to Jebel Shams & Wadi Ghul!
Our experience hiking the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk
Wadi Ghul left us speechless before we even started hiking. As you drive to the starting point of the hike you will drive past a viewpoint over the canyon, which will give you an idea of how stunning this hike will be.
We found the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk to be a fairly easy and rewarding hike.
Having the stunning canyon views all throughout the hike keeps your mood high, since you can always enjoy the view, unlike hikes where you have to hike through a boring forest for hours before reaching the peak and view.
The incline is so gradual that on the way there we almost didn’t even notice it, it felt like hiking at the same level all throughout.
We only realised there was an incline when it was time to hike back and we found ourselves going uphill and getting tired more quickly.
We were the only people hiking the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk on that day so once we reached the waterfall we stripped and went for a “shower” under the waterfall. It was a pretty sweet way to end the hike!
We also brought sandwiches and snacks with us that we ate there at the end of the trail before hiking back. Make sure to set off for your hike early, as it can get pretty hot in Oman!
We hiked the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk alone since we were a big group with a lot of guys, and didn’t feel the need to have a guide.
The trail is marked and pretty straight forward, but if I hadn’t been in a big group I would have been a bit spooked about being there completely alone. You can also look at organised tours to Jebel Shams.
What to bring with you to hike the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk
You want to pack light before a hike, however remember that there are no facilities whatsoever at Wadi Ghul, so you will have to bring all essentials with you! Some things include:
Food & water: You will get thirsty and you will get hungry, don’t forget these! Especially water, the heat in Oman can get pretty intense, you need to stay hydrated!
Comfortable hiking shoes: Jebel Shams Balcony Walk is a fairly easy hike, but you should always wear comfortable shoes when hiking.
Hat: Keep yourself protected from the strong Oman sunshine!
Sunscreen: Hats are great but they don’t cover the rest of your body, so don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
Fast drying towel: If you plan on going for a dip in the waterfall at the end of the trail, don’t forget a fast drying towel! I love these since they’re light, they dry quickly, and they take up little space in your bag.
Final thoughts on visiting Jebel Shams in Oman
The Jebel Shams Balcony Walk is one of the most spectacular hikes I’ve ever done, and I’ve done quite a few incredible hikes around the world. It’s one of the places we visited in Oman that made me fall in love with the country.
I hope you find this guide useful in planning your own time at Wadi Ghul and to do the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk!
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