Old Door – Wakan.

Wakan village is a very popular tourist attraction and this door must have been photographed hundreds of times: so thought I should add my two penneth.
I remember visiting this village long before it came onto the tourist route, probably 1987 if my memory serves me well. It sits about 2,000 meters above sea level in Wadi Mistal, tucked away in the Hajar Mountains. Famous for its apricot flowers which  are in full bloom between the middle of May & the end of August. It was and in some respects still is a drive that requires a 4×4 and some experience with off-road driving on tracks that can deter even the most determined tourist. A little like Jebel Shams / Jebel Akhdar; when visitors see the hotels marked on the map, they set off in the newly hired car and find the track is not what they expected. Many times I have seen people either lost, stuck in wadi streams or so frightened because the edge has a drop off on one side of 200 or 300 hundred meters. Resulting in me not being able to pass them when coming from the opposite direction and needing to guided them passed my vehicle. Unfortunately it is the lack of knowledge and information given by the hire companies and hotels.
One example was when camping high in the mountains and late one evening a  4×4 stops and my daughter and I get asked “how far is Muscat?” we both looked a little shocked because it was getting dark and the road that these people were about to travel was very dangerous even in daylight. We suggested that the map they had been given was not very good and Muscat was at least 3 hours away, the road needed great care in daylight and driving at night was not to be recommended. They had some discussions with each other and took our recommendation of turning back rather than going on and missing the edge of the road which would have been either a very long drop or crash into a rock face.
Despite the many tourist intrusions in recent years, the locals remain very welcoming, as happens in a lot of these traditional villages that have been added to the tourist map. Although I did despair sometimes, when I saw a total lack of awareness by some visitors of the cultural sensitivities of the occupants. It probably means that in a few years, the open & hospitable welcome that tradition dictates for visitors will be lost.

Looking at the above image – Wakan is the village left of centre and the track can just be seen snaking down the mountain on the right of the village.

The Jebel this morning.

the-jebelA quick stop on my way to Birkat Al-Mawz (Birkat Al Mouz) this morning.
I’m afraid there are going to be more posts about ruined villages in the next few days: I spent this morning going around the three abandoned areas of Birkat Al Mouz.

 

These abandoned villages were important stopping places on the camel route between Muscat and Al Buraimi. A camel In caravan can make about 20 miles a day and Al Buraimi was at least 350 miles by dirt track from Muscat; a long trip of many days, needing plenty of rest stops en-route.
The village (now town) of Al Buraimi was an important juncture between Oman proper & the Persian Gulf  ‘Arabian Gulf for some – depending on which map you look at and its age.

Jebel detail.

Jebel detailA trip cut short by heavy rains and a met-office warning of more….
But it was not enough to stop me making a few quick images of the rain-swept Jebel with all its contours & colours. Although I needed the protection of an umbrella – not for me but the camera  🙄 & yes I carry a small one in the Land Rover: even Oman requires me to use one occasionally.

 

Failed – Devil’s Finger…….

A nice walk, unsuccessful in getting onto Devil’s Finger – yet again…..

The problem is; finding a route that gets onto the final ridge, without several descents & the inevitable climb-out of the many gorges that criss-cross the approach.
Google Earth is hopeless for this sort of thing and my O/S maps are not of the right scale (even worse for the SAS during the 50’s campaign) they had old style topographical maps (some copies of which I have) they used shades of colour to denote altitude. Aerial photography was nearly as bad as Google Earth.
Locals just think I am mad – “why do you want to go there? it’s just a rock”  But….. may have found someone who says he knows the way – we shall see!

The weather was good and the walk interesting from a historical point of view. It became obvious that there had been some sort of combat (1950’s) which took place over a large area of the route. Lots of 500Ib bomb fragments and at least one .303 ammunition box: all found without much effort looking.

One way of passing a long weekend !!  🙂

Saqrah – Jebel Akhdar.

Saqrah - Jebel Akhdar

Saqrah - Jebel Akhdar 2

Saqrah - Jebel Akhdar 3Saqrah

Hidden village on Jebel Akhdar that gets a mention on my Ordinance Survey map of 1968/75 but not on the 1961/63 version.
Said to have been occupied for at least a 1000 years; the existing families giving their occupation at about 300/350 years.
It is only reached by a somewhat precipitous path from one side of the gorge to the other: supplies are taken over by a cable slung between both sides.

Note: the electricity poles – even in these remote areas, power has been recently supplied (at great cost I would imagine ) giving quite a transformation, from what must have been a very tough existence.

Remote places like this gave water and security, which was of paramount concern until the middle 70’s

The Devil’s finger jebel akhdar.

The Devil's finger Jebel AkhdarThe setting sun has just dropped behind the range of hills – last night on Jebel Akhdar: the sticky up bit a third of the way in from the left is known as The Devil’s finger.

I have tried along with some friends, to find a path that gets me onto this prominent feature – other than the very long hike from right to left along the range of mountains. Unfortunately without success as yet; it’s the long way or not at all.

It has been raining for the last few evenings on this range of mountains, hence the dark clouds.