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.
The Al Hajar stretch for about 700 km across the north of the country and rise to over 3,000m (Jebel Shams – mountain of sun) from the coastal plain. Sediments at the core were mainly laid down during the Late Permian to Late Cretaceous in the Tethys ocean basin that had resulted from the break-up of Gondwana.
The Arabian Plate collided with and pushed against the Iranian Plate, resulting in mountains chiefly made of Cretaceous limestones and ophiolites.
Rock outcrops in the Al Hajar Mountains, the Huqf and Dhofar span about 825 million years and includes at least three periods when the country was covered by ice.
Oman, located at the south-east corner of the Arabian plate, is being pushed slowly northward, as the Red Sea grows wider. The Al Hajar Mountains and valleys of Musandam are dramatic reminders of this: Oman is fairly quiescent tectonically but the Musandan experiences occasional tremors as the Arabian Plate collides with the Eurasian Plate (I remember coming back from holiday & finding bathroom tiles all over the floor from one of these tremors).
During the Cretaceous Period Oman was located adjacent to a subduction zone and a portion of the upper mantle along with overlying seafloor volcanic rocks were thrust over the continental crust. This obducted sequence of ultramafic to mafic rocks is the Semail Ophiolite complex. The ophiolite is locally rich in copper and chromite ore.
The interior plains of Oman are of young sedimentary rocks, wadi gravels, dune sands and salt flats. Beneath them is a several kilometre thick stack of older sedimentary rocks that host the country’s hydrocarbon resources.
Links for most of this come from – Encyclopædia Britannica & Wikipedia.
Even though in most of these mountain villages, there is an abundance of water available; that is why they are situated where they are. None of it is piped into the house from source. It was a daily job getting water from aquifers with no certainty of mineral content (resulting in a lot of kidney stones) or cleanliness. The government now tests all water used for human consumption, so in these remoter areas it is delivered by water truck, hence the white tower containers on each roof.
Sorting & checking backup files before I pack my dark-room & computer plus printer for its return to the UK. It’s been a great adventure, even if work got in the way sometimes.
I should not complain because it was through work that I did my first trip into the desert. Someone told me about an airstrip abandoned just after WWII, where Kittyhawk engines could still be found on the shore at the end of what was left of the runway. The Kittyhawk was famous for its ‘Shark mouth’ on the engine air intake: made famous by No. 112 Squadron of the Royal Air Force who first painted this on their aircraft during the North Africa campaign in 1941. They copied the idea from Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110’s which had been painted with similar markings.
Given a military ‘Ragtop’ Land rover & basic directions, with instructions that I could get fuel from any military base I passed (free) and not to get lost because it would be a long walk; off I went. Directions back then were rudimentary and consisted of things like “follow the sand track until you see a pole with a tin can on it” or “at the hill with 3 old towers, turn right”…… and so it went. I say this to people now and they stare at me in disbelieve, but anyone who had been here in the early days will confirm my comments on this. The only black-top roads were around Muscat.
I was away two days and although I got rather lost a couple of times, I did find it. Unfortunately the only engines were rusty and not really identifiable as coming from an aircraft. But I was hooked and eventually got my own Series 200 Discovery, two spare tires, tool kit, air-jack and a proper tent with lots of old Ordinance Survey maps. It has been non-stop ever since.
Still a couple of weeks left and I’m now in the ‘Where do I put everything & how have I acquired so much stuff !! stage‘ most of it being books & camera equipment that cannot be easily replaced, so must be shipped back.
I still have lots of negatives that need scanning, so am not about to close this blog, but there will not be much more than the odd image until I am settled back in UK.
I started this blog on the 21st May 2010 with this image:
Here we are 18th June 2017 and 2159 images later, more comments & likes than I ever expected, which made it all worthwhile and has been much appreciated: but enough is enough & time I put my feet up with a good book & the odd glass or two of Laphroaig. Well that’s the plan but, we shall see 😎
The technical description from my geology book says:
Rillenkarren.- Are forms of dissolution on the surface of the rocks that consist of small channels separated by sharp crests configuring a network of tight more or less parallel gullies next to each other. Its Genesis is linked to the dissolution of the rock by the sheet of water that forms on it as a local run-off.
A 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.