Explore The Western Hajar Inland from Muscat to Nizwa Nizwa Jebel Akhdar and the Saiq Plateau Al Hamra and around Jebel Shams Bahla Jabrin Share It’s 32km along the twisting road from Birkat al Mawz up to the plateau – a journey of around forty minutes. Some 6km beyond Birkat al Mawz, the road up to the Saiq plateau begins to climb in earnest. There’s a police checkpoint here, and if you’re not in a 4WD you’ll be forced to turn back – a shame, given that the wide and beautifully engineered road up into the hills would be perfectly feasible in a 2WD. From here the road begins to hairpin dramatically upwards into the hills, with huge sweeps of rocky mountainside dotted with the small, hardy shrubs and trees – butt, wild olive and the occasional stately juniper – which manage to suck a living out of the bare rock. The mountains are a study in naked geology, formed out of huge slabs of limestone which have been tilted sideways over millions of years to produce the evenly sloping mountainsides and neat right-angle summits you see today, and whose colour changes according to the light from a sere, green-grey with occasional splashes of brownish-orange – a striking contrast to the much smaller and more irregularly shaped reddish ophiolite hills below. A series of viewpoints on the road up allows you to stop and admire increasingly expansive views.