by Ali Mohammadi
Sa’al Mountain, also spelt as Saal Mountain, is a mountain in the village of Sa’al in the outskirts of Muscat. If you have ever driven out of Muscat on the Dakhiliyah Highway (Road No. 15), chances are that you would have seen the Sa’al Mountain along the highway with a satellite dish that can be barely seen from the highway. Sa’al Mountain (and the whole surrounding area to be honest) is a great place to explore especially if you live in Muscat, due to its close proximity to the city. The trek to the top (aka Sa’al Stairs) is a short yet challenging trek, but extremely rewarding with views of the surrounding mountains and wadis to the West and South, and the industrial area of Muscat to the North and East.
I quite enjoy going up Sa’al Mountain as exercise, especially if I do not want to commit to a long drive out of the city. I often visit the mountain on a weekend morning or as a quick post-work activity to get a bit of exercise in the beautiful surroundings of the mountain, with added bonus of experiencing the often stunning sunset at the top! The trek itself is not an easy trek, as it is continuously uphill for the entire length of the trek which is just under 2 kilometres. The trek is not marked, and starts off as a dirt road and almost half-way up you will see the giant concrete stairs (hence the nickname ‘Sa’al Stairs) – these are just under 700, uneven concrete steps that take you to the top of the mountain before another small dirt portion leading you to the satellite dish at the top.
What To Considerations:
The Sa’al Stairs trek is challenging, and you will need to be relatively fit if you want to go there in a reasonable time – any time under 30 minutes is extremely impressive for the uphill portion. I have clocked times between 35-45 minutes in my previous visits. If you are not physically active, allow at least an hour for the uphill trek. Allow similar or just slightly less time for the descent back down – a couple of stretches are full of loose rocks making it extremely slippery. Hiking boots or shoes with good ankle supports are a plus but not an absolute necessity, and make sure to take enough water to keep you hydrated. Teenagers and older children will probably enjoy the trek too but need to be supervised, especially in the non-stair portion. Finally, during summer I would strongly advise trying the trek in the early morning or before sunset to minimise the extreme heat affecting you – do not underestimate the trek!
Whether you are visiting Muscat on holidays, or live here, I highly recommend you visit Sa’al Mountain and attempt the trek up Sa’al Stairs to the top – obviously assuming you love the outdoors. Despite the challenge, that ineffable feeling of achievement and happiness once you have conquered the mountain is definitely worth it, and will probably make you want to do it again – and being easily reachable from Muscat – is it definitely do-able as a quick trip!
How to Reach:
Sa’al Mountain is in the outskirts of Muscat, beyond the industrial area of Al Rusayl, approximately 30 kilometres away from Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It can either be reached from the internal road heading out from Muscat towards Al Rusayl (after Al Ansab, Falaj Sham and Awabi) or by taking the Al Rusayl exit off the Dakhiliyah Highway from Muscat.
About the Contributor: Ali Mohammadi is a blogger and tour guide who has been running Oman Tripper since 2012. His blog was founded in order for him to showcase and share some of the fantastic places worth visiting in Oman. Ali is also a licensed tour guide and conducts customised tours and hiking trips whenever time permits. Read more stories at OmanTripper.com and follow him on social media at OmanTripper