BY RUMPA MITRA –
A two-hour drive away from the always rushing and bustling Muscat, 2,000 metres above sea level right at the heart of Nakhal and along the edges of the Western Al Hajjar mountains, one will find a remote village perched nicely on top surrounded by lush foliage throughout the year.
It is one of Oman’s perfect embodiment of the saying, “beauty has an address” as the village welcomes you with chilly weather and fresh oxygen.
Wakan is roughly 150 km from the capital and while the village itself is a beauty to behold, it is also home to one of the best and scenic hiking spots in Oman.
Wakan has my heart since my passion for hiking started. I first climbed its mountain trail way back in 2018. It was my first to venture into such adventure and as a beginner with little to no knowledge of the place, I was the last person to reach the top. I took 8 hours to complete the trail and back then, my condition was disastrous. If not for the guide who accompanied me, I wouldn’t have made it to the top if absent their word of encouragements and support.
I revisited the trail in February of 2019 and completed the hike in six (6) hours. As of another visit made December 12, 2020, I completed it in four (4) hours and 45 minutes.
Wakan was closed down during the pandemic and rightfully so to protect the inhabitants of the area. Today, the visits started to pick up. It’s advisable to take an SUV as the last 15 minutes towards the village is quite an uphill drive. The road is narrow and graded, so you need to be careful behind the wheels.
Arriving early to the village is always better due to the limited parking space available. The village has approximately 50-60 houses and has two mosques that worshippers go to for their prayers. The parking area has a small balcony which serves as a viewing deck just perfect for some quick clicks for your social media updates.
A walk inside the village takes you through the narrow lanes between the small houses with a variety of beautiful colourful doors. As you move along the trail, you’d feel like you are in a postcard-perfect town.
Moving a few meters further takes you to a long stair of 700 steps. The stairs will take you through the village farms. Both sides of the stairs are covered with pomegranate, apricot and grape trees. The farms produce a variety of vegetables. The sound of free-flowing water makes your walk even more pleasant. The water is so clean and clear that you can easily drink it. The steps end at the watchtower/shallot where one can sit and enjoy the beautiful view of mountains and meadows. Ideally completing the steps and reaching to the watchtower takes 30 minutes.
The hike starts right after the watchtower. The trail is moderately hard and for beginners, it’s advisable to be with professional groups. Ideally, the approximately 14 km stretch of the trail should take 5-6 hours to complete both ways.
The beauty of Wakan gets better as you go higher, the climate gets colder and view to the mountain range looks spectacular.
The trail is marked with the common hiking flag (white, red, yellow colour). I think the trail is marked by the Sultan Qaboos Flying club, in many places I have seen the name written in the trail, my Omani friend read it for me. The peak is at 2300 meters, from there you can see the surrounding villages, Wakan, Alquwra and Hadash.
From here, the trail branches out to many other trails. One can go to Jabal Akhdar from the top of Wakan but the trail is not properly marked. Those who are interested to attempt Wakan village summit must start the hike as early as eight (8) in the morning.
Currently, the weather is cold. During our visit on December 12, it was 9 degrees at noon at the top.
Based upon the time you decide to hike, one needs to carry coverall to keep your body warm. At least two (2) litres of water is required to carry in the hike. Also, carry some snacks along with you.
On the way back, be ready with steep and loose rocks which make the walk difficult. It’s advisable to take small and careful steps while coming down.
After finishing the hike on the way back, one can explore the only café joint available at the village parking area. Though prices are slightly on the higher side, we must not mind considering the time and effort required to bring all the stuff from the city to this place.
You can enjoy the best view and relax after the hike and support a little local business.
I always return to the Wakan trail to check my stamina and endurance growth over the last few years. The first hike seemed so long ago but I still felt as excited to see the view from the top.
The trail is beautiful and hopefully, it will remain so with the help of people passing through the trail. As long as everyone contributes to making sure they take their trash along with them, it will become an enjoyable destination for others too. Bringing your own garbage bag will greatly contribute to the preservation effort.
If you’re planning a hike in Wakan, make sure to observe some of the basic rules and guidelines. Please wear a moderate dress and respect the inhabitants’ way of living. Villagers are pretty much welcoming as long as you do not disturb their way of life.
Other things to observe: Avoid making unnecessary noises and avoid plucking fruits and vegetables.
A day trip with family is quite relaxing and if you want to hike to the top, please prepare yourself before trying this route.