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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Visit to Wakan Village

Last week, one of my colleagues at work (Janarthanan) told me about a quaint little village in the Western Hajar mountains of Oman called "Wakan" which was unique for it's scenery and terraced farming. Consequently, a group of five of us decided to visit this place on 27 January (Friday). Wakan is around 150 km from Muscat and since we wanted to see the sunrise over the village, we left Muscat at 0500 hrs and reached the foothills around 0630 hrs.

The village is situated at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level overlooking Wadi Mistal in the Wilayat of Nakhal. This region enjoys moderate temperatures in summer and low temperatures in winter owing to the altitude. The road leading to the village passes through a number of valleys and is good to drive on except for the last 3-4 km leading to the village which is just a dirt track requiring a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Since we went in my Camry, we parked the car at the base of the mountain and trekked it up to the village. The uphill trek of around 3 km was a torture for which none of us were prepared and it reminded us of the sorry state of physical fitness we were in. The early morning chilly air only added to our woes.  

As we kept ascending, the view kept getting better and though we could see the village perched atop a hill, reaching it took some time owing to the serpentine bends in the road. The first rays of the sun started peeking from the mountains as we were about to reach Wakan and it was a sight to behold. A viewing platform adjacent to a visitors information centre and a viewing tower is the first sight to greet visitors. A hiking track has been built which goes through the village right till the top from where one is offered spectacular views of the surrounding areas. 

We spent a couple of hours clicking photographs and marveling at the wonders of nature and also the grit of the handful of inhabitants who eke out a living from fruits and vegetables grown on terraces on the mountainside. It is a very painstaking job and speaks volumes about the spirit of the farmers. The following photos will elaborate and tell the story in a better manner (click to enlarge).

                      Huffing and Puffing on our way up. Smijith shot this photo on his iPhone

                                                     Dawn over the mountain range

                                                               First rays of the Sun !

                   Wakan Village (seen from the place from where we started foot slogging)

                                                        Janarthanan, the pro at work !

                                                                      Sunrise

                                          Sunrise on the mountain above village Wakan.

                               Visitors Information Centre (not manned) and Viewing Platform.

                                           Notice Board at the start of the  Hiking Track

              Markers (yellow, white and brown stripe) to show the route. The drain on the right
              side is part of the 'falaj' system for irrigation. Dry pomegranates can be seen on trees.


            A Peach tree in bloom. January is a bit early for Peach trees to bloom so this was a
         special sight. In Mussoorie, where I grew up, I remember they used to bloom in March.

                                Another special sight - not referring to Bharat and myself -
                                   a Mango tree in bloom in January at 2000 mts altitude !

                                                       Wakan - The Green Village.

                   A view of the village and surrounding areas from one of the vantage points.

                                          The last viewing platform at the end of the track.

                                                    Notice before the last view point.

           End of the track at the very top. It was still cold. Even the Goats are basking in the sun.

                                 Wakan and surrounding areas from the last viewing platform.

                                         View of Al Qurah village form the last platform.

                            Jana, Dipesh and Smijith (L to R) at the village on our way back.

                                        View from the Viewing Platform at the Village !

                                        The "Lion's Head" Rock ? Thus christened by us !

                                    Rocky Perch ! We saw amazing rock formations all over.

                                         Atop another rocky sculpture on the way back.

The downhill trek after we left the village was no cakewalk either as descending is equally tough, if not more, than climbing up. By the time we reached the car it was around 1000 hrs and we were famished. We had not bothered to carry any food or water during the trek which was a big blunder. We were lucky that no one suffered any muscle cramps owing to lack of fluids. After gorging on food and beverages, we left for Muscat at 1030 hrs and with just a short stop for 'Karak' tea enroute, reached Muscat at 1230 hrs. 

The trip to Wakan was a wonderful outing and a welcome change from our daily routine despite the physical discomfort. The trip was an eye opener for us in more ways than one. We never imagined that farming of fruits as diverse as grapes, pomegranates, peaches and figs could be possible at a small hamlet way up in the mountains of Oman. For me it was special as it reminded me of my home state in India (Uttarakhand) thanks to the greenery and scenic beauty of the mountainous terrain.          
                                          

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