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Jebel Akhdar

Without a guide or some inside information, Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain) may seem something of a misnomer to the first-time visitor. Firstly, Jebel Akhdar refers not to a mountain as such, but to an area that encompasses the great Saiq Plateau, at 2000m above sea level. Secondly, the jebel (mountain) keeps its fecundity well hidden in a labyrinth of wadis and terraces. There, the cooler mountain air and greater rainfall encourage scented Damask roses (which flower in March and are the source of the region's celebrated rose water), prize pomegranates, apricots and other fruit to grow in abundance. Temperatures during December to March can drop to -5°C, and hailstones are not uncommon.

With a day or two to explore this ‘top of the beanstalk’, the determined visitor will soon stumble across the network of mountain villages and their well-tended gardens and orchards that make this region so justly prized.

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