In the final part of our series on the ‘Green Mountain’, Felicity Glover and her friends explore The Butterfly Trail.
It’s mid-afternoon and we are headed farther up the Green Mountain to Alila Jabal Akhdar, where we will be taking on the Butterfly Trail – a 2.6km adventure hike that has been especially designed by the hotel for their younger guests and parents.
If you caught our Destination feature in last week’s issue then you will know that this is my first time on Jebel Akhdar and we’d already spent the morning exploring Diana’s Point and other places.
The sun is at its peak but the temperature is still much cooler than it is in Muscat so we figured it was a perfect time to tackle the trail and all that it has to offer.
As we whizzed by mountain villages, small wadis and looming cliff faces, the stunning scenery of the mountain continued as we climbed steep rises and navigated sharp curves.
Finally at the hotel, we had no idea what we would be facing. But our host, Ami, who is also the Alilia’s spa director, suggested a cool drink and a quick sunscreen session before heading out to the trail.
The delicious fresh pomegranate, mint and grape juices refreshed us and sharpened our minds, while my daughter Cia and her two friends, Erin and Leah, slathered on the sunscreen.
Maps in hand, we headed off to follow a marked trail decorated with butterflies – plain yellow to stay on course and another design with red dots on it to warn us to keep an eye out for insects or small wildlife. With the girls in the lead, we began our adventure that took us along a rocky trail that offered incredible views over a huge canyon.
The aim of the walk is to introduce children and their parents to their surroundings, where they can learn a wealth of information about the mountain and its “inhabitants”.
There’s a range of fun activities along the way, such as climbing frames, viewing platforms, swings, a chance to drink water from Oman’s traditional jahlah, or terracotta water jugs, a spot of jousting and other balancing games.
All the while, you are on the lookout for geological markers that indicate the rise and fall of the ocean before Jebel Akhdar was pushed 2,000 feet above sea level, as well as fossils that are millions of years old.
At the same time, you will be treated to a magical dance of butterflies as they flutter by, or perhaps one of the 40 species of birds that call Jebel Akhdar home. We spotted a few butterflies on our walk, numerous birds and a lone lizard hiding under a rock.
Our first port of call was a viewing platform that provided a fantastic backdrop for quite a few selfies and a stunning view of the canyon below. By this time, we were definitely feeling the heat, but kept reminding ourselves that we wouldn’t even consider doing this hike in Muscat!
The walk takes about 90 minutes to complete but we felt that we had walked a lot farther than the 2.6km. But perhaps that was because there was so much to do and see along the walk. We did have one mishap along the way, with Erin falling over and sustaining a nasty cut to her knee. But the resident nurse was on the scene very quickly and we were back on our way in no time.
The scenery was amazing, with gnarled, isolated trees defying the odds and continuing to grow, while we spotted juniper trees and wild olive trees, wild flowers, large yellow berries and walked through the hotel’s organic vegetable garden.
It was a fun adventure and a wonderful way for the girls (and adults!) to learn more about Jebel Akhdar, not to mention escaping from the heat of the city to get some fresh mountain air and some decent exercise.
Need to know:
The Butterfly Trail is offered to Alila Jabal Akhdar’s hotel guests and their children. For reservations, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 2534 4200 / 9910 4204.