Story Gautam Viswanathan
A town that dates back almost 400 years, Al Hamra is today best known for being the gateway to the famed Al Hoota Caves in the Dakhiliyah governorate.
One of eight wilayats in the region – which is also home to both Jabal Akhdar and Jabal Shams, Al Hamra is on the crossroads of Al Hoota caves and another famed village, Misfat Al Abriyeen, which is home to acres of date plantations, many of which are privately owned, while others are harvested and sold in the nearby souqs.
Given its mountainous, rocky terrain, Al Hamra is a favourite among nature lovers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts, as well as those who enjoy reconnecting with nature and refreshing themselves with a few days’ break at one of the many hotels in the surrounding areas.
A portion of the 2019 Oman by UTMB pro cycling race, for example, saw the cyclists race through Al Hamra, which served as both the start and finishing point for the 50 km version of the race.
“Starting in Al Hamra, 50 km competitors will take on a great combination of trail, track and road, climbing to a height of more than 2,300m to access panoramic views of Oman’s stunning Hajar mountain range,” said race organisers. “Reaching the trail’s highest point just beyond Qiyut, a euphoric run along the top of the plateau will reach the checkpoint from which the mountainous descent begins. Passing by the ancient town of Misfat Al Abriyeen, runners will journey through lush plantations, agricultural terraces and stunning wadis, towards the finish line in Al Hamra.”
From Al Hamra, tourists can also access a number of other locations, including Nizwa, the old capital of Oman, Bahla, which is famed for its craftsmanship and handicrafts, Birkat Al Mouz, home to many agricultural plantations and a working Falaj irrigation system, and of course, Jabal Akhdar and Jabal Shams, two of Oman’s highest mountain peaks, should you be looking to head to the roof of Oman for a bit of trekking and mountaineering.