The toughest part of some physical feats isn’t always the physical effort itself. Often, it is the mental fortitude that’s needed to achieve it.
A hike to the gorgeous hillside hamlets in Sidab isn’t as tough as running a marathon, or even running 10k. But waking up at 5am on a weekend after a tiring week – that’s the part that requires the mental fortitude.
Once the alarm clock has served its purpose, it’s half the battle won. The best time to start the Sidab hike is just a few minute before daybreak, on days with receding tides. It can be done in the evening as well, but time yourself, so that you are not walking back in the dark. The trek starts just off Al Saidiya Street, and is easily located on Google Maps. The familiar yellow, white and orange flag greets you at the start of the trail. There is also a board with the golden instructions of trekking – keep the surroundings clean.
The first part of the trail is the most exciting one. You haul yourself up the mountain using chains and a ladder, and scramble your way to the top. Once you are there, and if you’ve got the timing right, you are treated to a picture-postcard view of the sunrise – an orange sliver rising above the horizon, lighting up everything it touches. The vistas of the Muscat coastline are drenched in the warm glow of the winter sun.
As you trek ahead, through downhills and uphills, you reach the first beach. Lined with little pebbles, washed-up coral and gravelly sand, this beach is a perfect photo-op spot. But before you trek forward, do your part with a quick beach clean-up – bag up stray plastic bottles and leave them one one side to be cleared.
The next beach is tougher to reach – you need to be extremely sure-footed, but you are rewarded with some unbelievable views. The Elephant Rock is one such natural rock formation. You can trek up to the rock if the tides are low, but watch out for the barnacles (billions of blistering beige ones!)
The marked path ends at the beach, by the old cemetery, which is said to be the resting place for soldiers from World War 1. Going beyond this beach is possible for experienced trekkers with the right shoes and equipment, but it isn’t recommended for beginners.
After wading through the crystal clear waters, hikers have the option to retrace their steps; or phone for a boat (you can find boards with the number to call).
As you walk back, or zip through the waters on a motorboat, sit back and take in the views. You’ve beaten the alarm clock, earned a good brunch, and taking in some breathtaking views.
Location: Sidab Trail
Difficulty: 3.5 on 5 (Moderate)
Always: Trek with a friend, carry enough water, make sure your phone is charged and keep the area clean.
Must have trekking gear: Good shoes, sunglasses, full pants to avoid scrapes.
Pro Tip: Wear trekking gloves on paths where there’s a lot of scrambling. Your palms will thank you later.