I look back now to this moment in time; March 2020. Here I was, scrambling around in the Hajar mountains, venturing into personally undiscovered areas, seeing wadis, peaks and routes stretching off into the distance, and inspiring future expeditions. However much like an unnecessary Disney Sequel, the seemingly perfect ending to its prequal was abruptly brought to a standstill and all but left in tatters. I look back on this trek as being from a better time, and am writing up a description now, as I look finally and venturing out once more.
With that said, this route really had a bit of everything, and due to that I will have to break it down into a good few sub sections to describe it, but it really seemed to have it all. All types of weather (can’t guarantee on a re-run), Distant Peaks, Deep Messy Wadis, Green Farms and Villages, Ridges, High Passes, Meadows, flowers the lot. Sure, it took a couple of days, some sizey backpacks, and a pretty decent distance, but ultimately it stayed varied and was really enjoyable.
This route is entirely dependent on access being allowed up the Wadi Tawian Military Road. It has been closed for long periods of time, so in venturing here, have a B-option if they turn you around. Ironically this particularly trek was my B-route as a film shoot scuppered my initial plans.
As I commonly note, I would suggest taking elements of routes, and building up your own. Sometimes I don’t necessarily take the quickest route from A to B, as I tangent off to peak around corners, stand on a few peaks, and avoid retreading previous routes too much.
This route has a moving time of around 15 Hours, over 2 ½ days and 2 nights. It was done at a moderate pace, with many stops. I have graded it as a moderate. Most of it is Easy. The only challanging part is the route up Lateral Peak, and the Wadi down to the Lower Shihuh Farms. Both can be avoided. Here is the breakdown:
1. WP 01 – 03 – Jebel Mebrah Way – 25 Mins – 1.2 km (0.8 Miles))
2. WP 03 – 05 - Wadi to the Lower Shihuh Farms – 1 Hour – 2 2/3 km (1 2/3 Miles)
3. WP 05 – 09 - Shihuh Wadi Crossing – 1 Hour – 2 ¼ km (1.4 Miles)
4. WP 09 – 13 - Laterial Peak – 2 Hours – 4km (2 ½ Miles)
5. WP 13 – 18 - Upper Tawian Pass to Fairy Glen – 1 Hour – 2km (1 ¼ Miles)
6. WP 18 – 24 - Half Tila Ridge and Traverse to Wadi Niqab – 2 Hours 20 Mins – 5 ½ km (3.5 Miles)
7. WP 24 – 27 - The Meadows to Yibir Peak – 2 Hours – 3.8km (2.4 Miles)
8. WP 27 – 32 – Yibir Peak to Silhi via the Sah Sah Farms – 1 Hour – 3km (1.9 Miles)
9. WP 32 – 18 (via 36) - Silhi to Upper Difan via Kanamt – 2 Hours 20 Mins - 4.8km (3 Miles)
10. WP 18 – 13 - Fairy Glen to Upper Tawian pass – 1 Hour – 2km (1 ¼ Miles)
11. WP 13 – 03 (via 37,38) - Upper Niqab Pass – 40 mins – 2 ¼ km (1.4 Miles)
12. WP 03 – 01 - Jebel Mebrah Way - High Road – 25 Mins – 1.1km (0.7 Miles)
1. Jebel Mebrah Way
The start point for this route is at the Top of the Jebel Mebrah Road, in the saddle just before the signs stopping anyone going further up to the weather station. Looking in a North Easterly Direction, up the road, There are two paths, the High Road and the Low Road. The Low road involves dropping steeply down just for a short distance and then traversing around the hill side on a ledge. It is initially hard to see but once you are on it is easy to follow. It curves around and heads easy, with the wadi dropping down to your left. After a short while it merges with the High Road at waypoint 2. Continue on, and you will reach a saddle with paths going in all directions at waypoint 3. All but the Right hand one will in some way or another take you around Upper Shihuh and Down to Lower Shihuh. On this route we crossed the saddle and headed right, and traversed around the hill side.
2. Wadi to the Lower Shihuh Farms
After traversing around the Upper Shihuh Farms, with the wadi to our right and village up above us on our left, we reached the last few houses in the village. From here we followed the ridge down and curved left into the wadi at waypoint 4. I was in hope of a quicker route down to Lower Shihuh, but it was little more than a bouldery wadi. We scrambled down this, with it getting slightly more committed. As we approached Waypoint 5. stick to the left hand slopes, and don't loose height, and you will traverse out of the wadi to the village at Waypoint 5.
3. Shihuh Wadi Crossing
Make your way between waypoints 5 and 6 going between the farms that make up a sprawled out village. Way point 6 is key to hit. This is the top of the stairs/slope down into the wadi. looking across the wadi you can see another set of fields, which are ultimatly on your route. Other routes down are a little messy so this waypoint is key to hit. Follow the clear path down from Waypoint 9 to waypoint 10. When you get to the bottom of the wadi, turn left immediately and in front of you the path heads up out the wadi, with a tributary coming in from the right, and the wadi heading down to the left. Head up the path and curve to the left with a farm directly on your right. As you reach the top of the steeper section the path becomes clearer. Head North to waypoint 9, where you can leave the wadi. This doesn't mark any particular spot, and it's not the easiest route for sure.
4. Laterial Peak
After leaving the path we traversed between waypoints 9 and 10. nothing too hard, just following ledges around, occasionally with a little exposure. At way point 10 the peak had started to round off, s we turned and headed almost straight up getting to a flat section (perfect for camping for future reference) at way point 11. This section was the trickiest section of the whole trek. Find work around if you want it to be easier (and involve no scrambling and exposure)
Once at the Flat Saddle section at waypoint 11, turn right and head in a East South Easterly direction along the ridge. Just follow the ridge and you will at some point reach the top at Waypoint 12. To head down just continue to follow the ridge. This is a very easy descent, so if you don't mind a turn around can be used as the assent. There was no path, or any particular route, but it's easy to navigate across. The last section is slightly steeper bringing back to the main path at waypoint 13.
5. Upper Tawian Pass to Fairy Glen
This part of the trek was really green, and the path weaves it way around the tops of some of the great wadies of the UAE. Initially at the top of Niqab's tributaries you pass over into Tawians tributaries, with the path out flanking the wadi's to stay pretty level. Due to the time of year and Rain that season this area was noticeably green with flowers, shrubs and trees all around. We then descended down to waypoint 17, Fairy Glen and had a break in a large meadow area full of flowers and insects of various types, in the shade of some trees, by a tiny dried up stream. This is to me, the ultimate camp site, however we just didn't hit it at quite the right time.
From here we took a short uphill section to the main path that runs from Wadi Tawian to Half Tila and the Niqab villages.
6. Half Tila Ridge and Traverse to Wadi Niqab
Initially we took a left and went via some higher farms and curved back to the main ridge path at waypoint 20. Waypoint 19 can be skipped, I just took this route to see something new.
From waypoint 20 up to the saddle between the two peaks of Half Tila, just follow a very clear path. It's got minimal up and down, and is generally really easy. To your right you can see the Silhi Valley, with Jebel Yibir's 4 peaks out on the far side.
Once you get to the saddle between Half Tila's peaks (Waypoint 21), continue on down to the top of the village at waypoint 22. Once reaching the top house, leave the path and head right, traversing around Half Tila Major via waypoint 23. To your left, the historic farms at the right time of year are really pretty and very green. Loose height gradually, but keep your eye on the wadi to your left and try to meet it right at the top. If you don't you will end up having to regain height.
Pass over the saddle between Niqab and Tawian, at waypoint 24.
7. The Meadows to Yibir Peak
This whole area from Waypoint 24 eastwards and down to Silhah is made up of rolling white peaks, with wavelike crest ridge lines, lined in a thinggreen veil. A very pretty area, which is a good distance from almost everything.
Head from Waypoint 24 north east along the ridge, not really gaining or loosing any height. You have the option of heading north to cover the other sub-peaks of Yibir, or getting straight to the point. Going with the later, we traversed to waypoint 25, before crossing the meadow area at waypoint 26. After this it got considerably steeper and with the ridge line gradually rolling off, the peak was a long time coming. However when you reach it it is worth it.
To the North East you can see some of the foot hills of most inaccessible areas in the range, with Jebel Qihwi in the distance. A far more rugged landscape all so close, but also so out of reach as a large wadi cuts a deep scar between the two areas. Waypoint 27 Marks the top.
From this view point you can almost see it all. To the North Jebel Salli, Qihwi, Yabanah and Jais all line up perfectly, sitting Qihwi and Half Tila. The rolling white peaks to one side, the rugged jais landscape to the other, and Dibba far below. Overload!
8. Yibir Peak to Silhi via the Sah Sah Farms
Heading down from the top of Yibir is much the same as lateral peak. Generally easy and just following the ridge line.
At waypoint 28 there is a saddle, as you have the option of dropping more directly into the wadi heading down to Sihli from the north, or (as on this route) keeping a smoother descent gradiant and curving around to the east.
We headed to the left, traversing the eastern side of the peak ahead, and curving around into a large flat area where the wadi was forming at waypoint 28. Walk across the dried marsh like area to the farm at waypoint 29. From here turn right and head westwards, dropping down a short steep section the it's neighbour lower farm.
Continue in the same direction and into a gulley. This short gully requires a little simple scrambling, but nothing too tricky. Cross over to the left hand side as it starts to open out at the bottom, and head straight into Silhi Village.
9. Silhi to Upper Difan via Kanamt
Once in the village, meander your way South westerly and generally down the wadi, to the major farms between waypoints 32 and 33. Once at waypoint 33, stick in the wadi and follow it straight to wapoint 34. There is a farm to your right just up on the side of the wadi. The path out of wadi Tawian starts here at waypoint 35.
It's a long section this, and is bare, and seemingly endless, but around 2/3rds of the way up towards waypoint 36. The first houses appear. These area loosely associated with Difan further down to the south. Pass these two farms close by, and continue along what then becomes a very cler path to way point 36, and onto waypoint 18, where you meet back to the path on which you came.
10. Fairy Glen to Upper Tawian pass
This section is an exact reversal of Section 5. Drop down into Fairy Glen, and then work your way back up and out of Tawian, across the tips of it's fingers, and end up back in Niqab.
11. Upper Niqab Pass
After the route you came on splits off (at Lateral Peak) continue along the clearly marked path. There are a junctions so keep a watch, and at waypoint 38, turn right (Westwards). The hills start to get bigger and with it the ups and downs are larger, and there is a long slow ascent back up to Waypoint 3. However with the clear view ahead, and nothing too steep, it's pretty nice.
12. Jebel Mebrah Way - High Road
Almost a reversal of section 1. However at waypoint 2, stick left and look for the High path. It's trickier to find at this end that the Low path, but the easier at the other. Once on it, it is very clear, and as you approach the road becomes bigger and bolder, ultimately having a nice finish as it traverses a rocky section with (on this particular day) water flowing across it and dropping far down to the right. Once at the road head right over the saddle back to the start point.
04 - Top of the Wadi
05 - Top of Village
06 - Top of Wadi Decent
07 - Bottom of Wadi Decent
07 - Bottom of Wadi Decent
11 - Laterial Peak Western Saddle
11 - Laterial Peak Western Saddle
15 - High Tawian Pass
17 - Fairy Glen
21 - Half Tila Saddle
23 - Traverse Bend
26 - The Meadows
29 - Higher Marsh Farms
30 - Lower Marsh Farms
32 - Top of Village
33 - Main Village Farm
34 - Bottom of Path
39 - High Path
Wadi Bih Man 2021. dec. 13.
Nice line and route
I have been to a lot of the points on this route but via other starting and finishing points, some many years ago when access was easier from Dibba
Ben Robbins 2021. dec. 13.
yeah, I haven't been at it as long as you, but even in the last decade things have become ever more restricted, and it's challenging to reach places that were once accessible straight from the parking spot. Jebel Qihwi, and the dibba area in general being a prime example. I have another route from dibba side (will upload one day), and you can get around to yibir, but there is a mammoth gorge between these two areas.