The Misty Mountains of Wakan

The small village of Wakan sits atop a hill, at the end of the Gubrah bowl, in the heart of the Jebel Akhdar mountains. During my first stay in Oman several years ago, this was one of my favorite places to visit; there are a few hiking trails in the area, and the views from above the village are stunning. The Gubrah bowl is literally a window into the (geological) past, as the erosion has carved out into the mountain range, resulting in a large flat area surrounded by tall and rugged peaks. The region is easily accessible, being less than a 2-hour drive from Muscat (see location map below).

Location map.

Even though the main road going through the Gubrah bowl is now blacktop, to reach Wakan you will need a 4WD vehicle, to negotiate the short but steep gravel road. Due to this limitation, the village is still relatively quiet, with a reduced number of tourists. For this visit, my plan was to walk the trail that starts in Wakan and climbs up the mountain, affording magnificent views over the mountains. The weather happened to be great, with a cloud cover that added an extra sense of mystery to the area. In my backpack, I had my usual Fujifilm kit of 2 cameras and 2 lenses, namely the X-T5 with the 16mm f/1.4 lens, and the X-T4 with the 56mm f/1.2 lens.

The village consists of a few houses, which are nested against cultivated terraced hills; people grow fruit trees (pomegranate, almond, peach, among others) and several types of cereals and vegetables. At an altitude of 1400m, the climate is cooler than in the valley below, and there is plenty of water that comes from the mountain through a network of falaj, or channels excavated in the rock.

Mountain’s gate. Approaching the entrance of Wadi Mistal.
Inside the Gubrah bowl.
On the road.
Surrounded by mists and mountains, Walkan sits at the top of a ledge (panorama assembled from several photos).

The first part of the hike is easy going, as you cross the village and the fields. The trees are showing the colors of Autumn, with rich oranges and reds. I stopped several times to take a few photos. The clouds and the mist add to the sense of quietness that emanates from the mountains. After a few hundred meters, the paved steps end, and you start walking along a narrow and rocky mountain trail, that has been used for centuries, as it connects Wakan to the Sayq Plateau, which is located higher, around 4 km away. Every now and then, I stop to take photos and enjoy the scenery. Sometimes the sun breaks through a gap in the clouds, shining upon the valley below.

Wakan from above, with the green fields and the Autumn colors.
Autumn colors.

The way is always up, but after a while the trail levels a bit, next to a huge cliff face. This is a good spot to rest and admire the view. This time, I decided to return to Wakan, rather than walking all the way to Sayq Plateau, which requires a bit more time. But even if you walk only up to this point, it is already a great experience.

On the trail.
Clinging to the rocks.
Fellow walkers.

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I was born in Lisbon in 1966, and I am a geologist. My main interests as a photographer are Landscapes, Travel, and People. I have been fortunate enough to work in different places and contacted diverse cultures. I am also fortunate to live in a small, but beautiful country, Portugal.