The stunning fjords of Musandam

Story Gautam Viswanathan

Located more than 450 km from Muscat, the Musandam Governorate is an Omani exclave that lies to the north of the United Arab Emirates. Its craggy mountain peaks, stunning landscapes, crystal clear waters and rich undersea wildlife make it a year-round destination for nature lovers and eco-tourists.

One of the region’s most famous natural attraction are its fjords, long narrow inlets formed by tall, mountainous peaks rising on either side of a patch of land that lies below sea level, allowing for the waters to come in and create some stunning landscapes in the process.

One of the best fjords can be seen from the paths on Jebel Harim, which at its highest point, stands some 1,600 metres above sea level.

“Offering spectacular views and adventurous paths, Jebel Harim is Musandam’s highest peak and a haven for biking enthusiasts,” said Oman’s Ministry of Tourism. “Local tour operators offer guided mountain biking tours. The highest point of the road (at around 1600m) sweeps through a large rock cutting next to an air-traffic control radar installation.

“Just below here, a track leads off to a fine collection of petroglyphs carved into mountaintop boulders: rudimentary but evocative weathered images chipped out of the stone, including matchstick human figures alongside animals such as the gazelle, Oryx, Arabian leopards and even what is thought to be a man on an elephant,” added the ministry. “Further fossils can be seen in the surrounding rocks. Past the summit, there are sensational views of the road ahead, as it runs along a narrow ridge before descending towards the Rawdah Bowl, plus stomach-churning views into the deep gorge below.

“En route you’ll pass a remarkable fossil wall, formed out of what was originally a chunk of sea bed rock and covered in a dense layer of fossilised impressions among which the outlines of crabs, starfish and shells can clearly be made out,” added the ministry.

Another stunning view of the fjords can be seen from Khor Najd. “Picture-perfect Khaor Najd is one of Oman’s most scenic fjords, accessible via a road surrounded by high cliffs and leading to crystal clear waters below,“ added the Ministry.