by ALI MOHAMMADI
Sidab Coastal Trek is a trek off the mountains from the fishing village of Sidab, adjacent to Old Muscat. The trek takes you through the mountains and rugged coastline of the village, passing through many gorgeous beachheads and hills with stunning views throughout, including distant views of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel, and outlines of Muscat Bay in Qantab if you squint enough. The trek isn’t straightforward and easy to navigate, with loose rocks and steep slopes increasing risk of falling down the cliff, but it is one that I really enjoyed and combines the best of Muscat’s stunning coastline, beaches and mountain. It is especially remarkable for how remote it feels while being almost adjacent to the Al Alam Palace.
I am sure I am not the only one whose mind keeps wandering off whenever I am driving through Old Muscat and Muttrah, thinking about the beautiful mountains surrounding the small neighbourhoods and houses, and what would be the view from up there, or off that old watchtower. This has certainly been the case also whenever I drive through Sidab village. It was a pleasant surprise when friends told me about a trek through Sidab coastline and we eventually went to explore it together. The Sidab Coastline Trek did not disappoint, despite it starting at the old village cemetery and passing near a couple more (please be respectful and careful as you tread through those areas ensuring you do not disrupt the peace and keep to the small tracks through the graves as far as possible). The trek also gives you access to a couple of beautiful beaches that look perfect for snorkelling, including I am told is one of the oldest corals in Muscat coastline – but that is something I did not get the chance to do (yet).
Sidab Coastal Trek Considerations:
Sidab Coastal Trek goes through a couple of rugged mountain passes that are quite steep and on really loose and sharp rocks, so it is not suitable for everyone and I do not recommend taking your kids, grandmothers or younger ones unless they are quite comfortable being outdoors and scrambling up and down steep slopes. The first part of the trek requires scrambling through a very steep gully, and you should space out your group as there is a risk of rockfall onto the people below so put sufficient spacing between each other. In addition, the rocks get particularly slippery at the coast side where the water and smooth boulders make it extremely difficult to walk – so take extra caution there and as always you should have appropriate footwear (hiking boots or something similar).
The trek itself is not long, and the timing highly depends on how much of the coastline you want to explore – we trekked all the way to the restricted access area (as it is adjacent to the Al Alam Palace grounds) and it took about 3 hours in total. It can certainly be done in under two hours though.
An important consideration in this trek is taking account of the tide risings as there are several beachheads you need to pass, and which can only be done at low tide – so make sure you check tide times in advance so that you can do the whole trek without being cut-off. If you feel like wanting to do your bit for the environment, do take a rubbish bag with you during the visit and try to pick-up whatever you can of the rubbish – unfortunately, the beaches here are full of rubbish and plastic that are washed out from the sea.
Please be respectful and considerate when passing through the cemeteries that you may encounter in this trek – the first one is almost inevitable as the trek path goes through it but you can walk adjacent to the mountainside to avoid the graves (many of which are unmarked) – while you can avoid the others completely unless you want to pay your respect. Remember, someone’s loved ones are there and you should be respectful and not disrupt their peace. Also, the trek is adjacent to the Al Alam Palace grounds – and it is strictly forbidden to proceed further beyond the sign indicating the palace properties – so please do not try to cross it.
Finally, if you happen to combine the trek with some snorkelling, then please make sure you are conservatively dressed by the time you reach the top of the ridge facing Sidab village, especially as you will have to walk through the local graveyard on your way out. Also please park in the main car park and not in front of any private houses.