John Edwards is a passionate advocate of trekking in Oman; intrepid and pioneering, he is on a mission to publicise the raw beauty and majesty of the dramatic Hajar mountains to an Omani and international audience. He has dedicated sixteen years of his life to discovering and mapping long-distance trails throughout the region, making it a world-beating destination for adventure-seekers.
His ambition is to resurrect the historic trading routes connecting the mountain villages, enabling walking tourists to help sustain an emerging hospitality industry that uses some of the ancient village houses as hotel rooms, which otherwise will fall into ruin. An example of walkers' economic impact is the 630 mile South West Coastal Path in the U.K. which contributes 5% of the tourism spend in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, and 76% of this is from overnight walkers.
John will discuss in detail the process of creating and obtaining permission to publish the first contour map of any part of Oman. Prior to his map publication local walkers just had military maps that are unobtainable to tourists. Some of the place names on his maps have never been in print before, and are only known to the few semi-nomadic pastoral families living nearby. For example, names of caves, small springs and cliff drips. This map labelling required establishing Roman spelling that satisfied both the mountain shawawi and the Ministry of Defence survey authorities.
His lecture will also touch on a few historical misconceptions about the Hajar mountains; the first European visitors and the misplaced credit given to Persian engineering.
His recently published book 'Wildnerness Trekking in Oman', reviewed in the 2020 Review, is a triumph and we are delighted to welcome John to the Society for his lecture. Further information can be found on John's website https://www.hajarhiking.com/
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