Khasab and the spectacular mountains of the Hajar Mountains

The landscape of Khasab leaves a lasting memory. As if the oasis city had fallen out of time, it lies on the northern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, surrounded by the spectacular mountains of the Hajar Mountains, and is frequented by numerous cruise ships.

Khasab (also spelled Al-Khasab in Arabic) is the main town on the Musandam Peninsula, which, although part of the Sultanate of  Oman, is separated from the rest of the country by part of the United Arab Emirates. Tourism had only existed here since 1992; before that, Musandam was a restricted military area.

If you come to Khasab by boat and want to get to know the peninsula, you should take a dhow trip through the fjord-like bays and a road trip through the spectacular mountains of the Hajar Mountains.

Khasab is the most important place on the Musandam Peninsula. Around 18,000 people live here. The name of the port city means “the most remote producer” because Khasab is a vital date producer. The inhabitants live mainly from growing dates, fishing, and trade with neighboring countries.

Book tour Dhow cruise Overnight

There is a small airport that is served daily from  Muscat, a mosque that unfortunately cannot be visited by non-Muslims, a few shops, and a historic fortress and the port of the Iranian smugglers. There is not much to see in Khasab.

A real highlight in Khasab is the giantLuLu hypermarket. I love to stroll through foreign supermarkets and try local products. Here you get to know a lot of the culture.

I am curiously strolling through the shelves and am happy like a toddler about the exotic yield: sugar-sweet baklava, fresh camel milk, banana chips with salt, and refreshing towels with the scent of incense.

The coastal road to Bukha

A paved coastal road leads from Khasab towards Ras al-Khaimah. On the left, we see substantial rock faces, on the right, the turquoise blue Arabian Sea. Because of its beautiful coastline, which consists of fjords and lagoons, Musandam is often referred to as the Arabia of Norway.

The fishing village of Bukha

After about 30 kilometers, we reach the tiny fishing village of Bukha. From here, it is only ten kilometers to the border of the United Arab Emirates.

We stop at an old fortress, which is perched on a hill above the village and belongs to the old Bukha Fort. From up here, we have a great view of the town, the palm groves, and the bay.

I feel like I am in an old Jesus film and cannot believe that I am really standing here. The view of the houses and the landscape is too strange. If the visibility is clear, you can already see Iran, which is around 70 kilometers away.

Our road trip starts in Khasab. Just a few kilometers behind the town sign, we leave the paved road and drive towards the Hajar Mountains on a gravel track that is only approved for off-road vehicles. The rugged rock landscape begins here. With our rental car, we climb the switchbacks up into the mountains.

The sandy bottom is bone dry from the heat. Whirled up dust obscures the view. Passing tiny mountain villages made of stone houses and mud huts, the gravel track screws up to a height of 1,400 meters. During the trip, we have a fantastic panoramic view of the barren mountains of Musandam.

Every now and then, we discover lonely oases of fig trees and date palms. On one side of the street,massive rock walls shoot up into the sky. On the other, we look into deep, canyon-like gorges. Donkeys and goats cross our path, tank trucks thunder over the slopes to provide the few inhabitants of the mountain villages with drinking water.

Jebel Harim: The highest peak in Musandam

The higher we get, the more dramatic the scenery becomes. On the Sayh Plateau, we take a break and look at the 2,087 meters high Jebel Harim, the highest mountain in Musandam. The air is fresh up here. We are surrounded by incredible silence: no engine noise, no wind, no rustling of leaves, just nothing. You would hear a pin drop. It is wonderful.

Khasab Hajar Mountains Oman Musandam

Oman-hajar mountains musandam

oman musandam hajar mountains

A look at the fuel needle suddenly scares us, because we find that the rental car was not full when it was handed over. At this point, we are on the highest end of our road trip, in the middle of the Hajar Mountains.

There are no petrol stations around here. We switch off all gas-guzzling functions, such as the air conditioning, and, hoping to reach Khasab without stopping, make our way back. Fortunately, it is mostly downhill, and we can let the car roll.

Hajar Mountains tank

When we finally reach the gas station in Khasab, a stone falls from our hearts. The fact that petrol stations do not have to advertise their prices here goes without saying with fuel costs of 0.25 cents per liter. Petrol is almost cheaper in Oman than drinking water, and so we pay 2.5 Omani rials (equivalent to 5 euros) for 20 liters of fuel!

Reading tips for your trip to Khasab

As a big fan of the Orient, I not only saw a lot of the Arab countries, I also read a lot about them and would like to recommend some of my books to you. If you are preparing for a trip to Oman or just want to dream of this beautiful country, I definitely recommend the culture shock Small Gulf States & Oman. In this book, you will learn everything you need to know about the cultural peculiarities as