Oman’s wild mountain and desert landscapes offer enormous potential for outdoor activities and adventure sports – one which is slowly beginning to be realized, although the field remains in its infancy. The country is also a leading diving destination, with some of the region’s most pristine underwater landscapes and marine life.

Hiking

The most obvious – and perhaps most rewarding – of the country’s outdoor activities is hiking. An extensive network of hiking trails exists across the country, particularly in the Western Hajar, with reasonably well-marked trails winding around and through some of Oman’s most spectacular mountain ridges, wadis and canyons. Walks range from high-altitude treks along the mountain ridges through to exhilarating and challenging canyon walks, which usually involve scrambling over boulders and wading (and sometimes swimming) through rock pools and watercourses.

None of the treks should be attempted lightly. It’s imperative to carry sufficient water and also to keep a watchful eye on the weather if trekking through wadis (especially narrower canyons). Rainfall in the mountains can be sudden and dramatic, leading to violent and potentially fatal flash flooding.

Twelve of the best routes are covered in Oman Trekking, published by Explorer.

Adventure sports

There is a range of adventure sports and activities around the country. Activities include canyoning (the rough scramble up Snake Canyon is especially popular), caving, abseiling, rock-climbing or tackling one of the country’s three via ferratas (Wadi Nakhr, Snake Canyon and Bandar Khayran). Mountain-biking and kayaking are other possibilities. Leaders in the field are the Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre (www.holiday-in-oman.com), while Gulf Leisure (www.gulfleisure.com) also run a similar range of offerings.

Diving and snorkelling

The most obvious – and perhaps most rewarding – of the country’s outdoor activities is hiking. An extensive network of hiking trails exists across the country, particularly in the Western Hajar, with reasonably well-marked trails winding around and through some of Oman’s most spectacular mountain ridges, wadis and canyons. Walks range from high-altitude treks along the mountain ridges through to exhilarating and challenging canyon walks, which usually involve scrambling over boulders and wading (and sometimes swimming) through rock pools and watercourses.

None of the treks should be attempted lightly. It’s imperative to carry sufficient water and also to keep a watchful eye on the weather if trekking through wadis (especially narrower canyons). Rainfall in the mountains can be sudden and dramatic, leading to violent and potentially fatal flash flooding.

Twelve of the best routes are covered in Oman Trekking, published by Explorer.

Sport

There’s little in the way of organized sport in Oman, although if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of one of the country’s traditional competitive pastimes like bull-butting and camel-racing – the latter is held at many locations around the country, especially on public holidays and National Day, although it’s difficult to pick up information about forthcoming events. Try asking locally to find out if anything’s planned.

Currently, the only formal annual sporting event is the Tour of Oman (www.tourofoman.om) cycling race, first staged in 2010. Held over six days in February at locations around Muscat and the Western Hajar, it attracts a strong field of international riders.