Oman lies in the east of the Arabian Peninsula and covers an area of 309 500 km² which makes it roughly the same size as Italy (301.338 km²). With a total population of only ca. 2.6 million people Oman however is very sparsely populated and consists mostly of empty natural landscapes with 1700 km coast, sand deserts and two large mountain ranges whose highest peak is Jabal Shams (sun mountain) at 3009 m above sea level.
The Muscat capital area is with more than 1 million inhabitants the political, economic and cultural center of the country. It is from there where Sultan Qaboos bin Said rules over the country since July 23rd 1970, which is officially also named Sultanate of Oman. Thanks to the good government Oman, until 1970 kept without electricity, radio, television, tarmac roads, modern schools, hospitals, without central institutions of a modern state, externally closed like in the Middle Ages, moved in only 40 years into modernity.
With the revenues from oil and gas production schools, hospitals, electricity, telecommunication and homes have been constructed in the whole country and a modern state been built up all linked with a good infrastructure.
This process continues until today and thus billions being invested into the development of roads, airports and ports over the next years.
This policy enabled the Omani people to stay in their villages and keep living in their original regions without having to migrate into the cities in a search for a better life.
All this happened without destroying the Arabic character of the country and its traditions.
There are no skyscrapers in Oman but the many old forts have been carefully renovated and can be visited today.
The visitor of the country has therefore the possibility to discover the traditional way of life and like this the magic of Arabia in a modern and safe state. The Omani people are one of the best reasons to visit this country.
The local people are extremely open and tolerant towards foreigners and one can move around entirely freely. Visitors can experience the Omani hospitality accepting one of the many invitations to tea, Arabic coffee and dates which can be done safely.
Al Hamra is a 400 years old oasis 670 m above sea level in the western Hajar mountains. In the near surroundings many sights can be found like e.g. the big Al Hoota show cave, the mighty UNESCO heritage fort of Bahla, the beautiful castle of Jabrin, the picturesque mountain village of Misfat Al Abriyeen and the highest elevation of the country the Jabal Shams (sun mountain) at 3009 m above sea level.
All this far away from large traffic streams without any through traffic and like this an ideal place to find peace and relaxation.
A network of small paved roads links the villages and places, which with their palm plantations and green fields form the contrast to the barren mountains being so typical for the whole country.
Additionally there are unpaved roads reaching from the valley up to 2300 m elevation and being partly adventurous and partly steep.
There is a shopping street in Al Hamra with several small supermarkets, simple restaurants, a pharmacy and banks with ATM.
Also in Al Hamra many guest-workers from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are living and working in the local shops or on the plantations.
For cost reasons those use bicycles to cover longer distances around the villages and thus make Al Hamra even today already the cycling capital in Oman.
Sometimes there are more bicycles than cars on the road. Those bikes however are cheap merchandise from Asia, which are on offer from 35 OMR in the two local bikes shops.
The open visitor has thus in Al Hamra the chance to get into contact with Omanis and people from the Indian subcontinent alike, e.g. during a restaurant visit. But also some Omanis young and old alike prefer the bicycle to the car, the majority admittedly using the car.
Because many inhabitants of Al Hamra work in Muscat and are weekend commuters, it is even more quiet during the week in the village.
From this situation derives also the characteristic of the cycling region Al Hamra.
The bike region Al Hamra extends from the valley at 670 m up to 2300 m elevation and comprises an area of ca. 900 km².
On tour you ride either on small roads with little traffic or on off road tracks, being occasionally also used by the Omanis with their 4x4s.
Due to the sparse population and missing industry it is mostly very silent on tour and the air is clean. The silence of the mountains is a striking feature in Oman, as due to the little vegetation not even trees murmur in the wind.
Though the tracks have the same width as our farm tracks and forest roads, they are often more steep and not so well compacted and leveled. Riding needs thus more strain and attention this being a good extra workout of course.
Each rain washes out parts of the track, accumulates more gravel or in sections destroys the road completely. Like this the same tour is to be ridden in a different way from week to week.
Up to now ridable single tracks loved by so many people are not be found in Al Hamra. There are however in sections still the old hiking paths which resemble single tracks but yet need to be documented and cleaned from rocks to become fully ridable.
We hope already soon to be able to announce first sections. Already existing today are single tracks through the plantations in the valley which also offer a lot of riding fun.
Conflicts with hikers or rangers are naturally not existent in Oman. On the contrary you as a cyclist will be everywhere greeted with excitement and admiration, whereas honking is not an act of aggression but the horn is rather used to communicate and one is simply happy to see!
With only ca. 100 km small paved roads the region is certainly no patch for long distance road biking but with its mountains something for serious mountain training.
More details you can find in the road biking paragraph on our website.
To conclude one can say that the cycling region Al Hamra with 8 different guided bike tours in 3 different levels into all four points of the compass offers good and diversified cycling sport conditions in an interesting remote country which is not Europe but still safe and well organised and in which friendly people and best warm winter weather will delight each visitor.
The best travel time and thus the main tourist season is from October to April, when the climate matches pretty much the summer in Central Europe just a lot more stable and sunny. With day time temperatures around 25 degrees Celcius in the valley you find ideal conditions to enjoy your sport. Only occasionally short afternoon thunderstorms occur which can be also seen as a welcome refreshment. Entire rainy days are the absolute exception. Higher above in the mountains there is even frost during the nighttime whereas by day the strong sun lets the temperatures rise always above 20 degrees. It is recommended to bring light jackets to weather downhills, potential wind and cooler nights.
For your better orientation you find here three relevant Weather Forecasts
Whereas Bahla corresponds to the climate in the valley. Al Hamra is however always a bit cooler and wetter.
Sayq corresponds to the climate at an elevation of 2000 m above sea level. A height in which also some of our tours lead, which can reach a 2500 m elevation at a max.
Jabal Shams corresponds to the 3000 m elevation level, where we do not offer tours though, as the track to the summit is until today restricted to military use only.