Take the E66 into the centre of Al Ain, then take 137th Street onto Highway 21. Stay on Highway 21 and pass through Ibri and Bahla.
Jebel Shams is the highest mountain in Oman, standing at about 2,999m. The good news is you can drive to 2,000m, where there is an excellent base camp known as Jebel Shams Heights (23° 13.616’N, 57° 12.131’E). You can either bring your own camping gear or rent basic huts with bathroom facilities at very reasonable rates. From base camp, the hike to Jebel Shams summit is long and strenuous. It takes at least 12 hours, so is probably best left to very fit and experienced hikers. But don’t be disappointed – there are other well-marked trails that offer spectacular scenery. A short drive from base camp will take you to Al Khataym, the start of a hike along an ancient donkey trail leading to the abandoned village of As Sab. This hike is relatively flat on good trails and takes about four hours there and back.
Take your passport, GPS, charged phone and sturdy walking boots.
For a longer mountain hike, drive back down to the old village of Al Ghul and follow a path up through the village and onto the canyon rim (‘The Grand Canyon’ of the Middle East): it will take a fit hiker about six hours to reach base camp from Al Ghul. If this sounds too strenuous, drive to Al Hamra and then onto Misfat al Abriyin, an old village with an incredible maze of falaj water systems (traditional water channels) and ancient buildings. Enjoy a stroll around and be sure to take your camera. Finally, visit the historic towns of Ibri and Nizwa, or the caves at Al Hoota.
Arabia Outdoors offers guided tours and camping trips for individuals and corporate groups. Prices from Dhs150 per person for a day hike, from Dhs350 for an overnight trip (including activity). www.arabiaoutdoors.com (055 955 6209).