Oman // Al Batinah and Al Dhahirah //

Wadi Mistal and Wekan

About halfway between Nakhal and Awabi, a sign points south off Highway 13 towards Wadi Mistal (tarmac road for the first 6km, then good graded track for another 25km before the final ascent to Wekan village). The wadi begins by passing through a narrow gorge, its floor covered in a tumble of huge grey boulders, before opening out into the Ghubrah Bowl, a huge, flat gravel plain, ringed on the left by the cliffs bounding the southern edge of the Jebel Nakhl and, at the far end, by the peaks of the Jebel Akhdar.

It’s a swift if rather bumpy ride across the bowl to reach the village of Al Hejar on the far side, from where a very steep, rough and slightly stomach-churning road (4WD essential) climbs up to WEKAN (also spelled Wakan, Wukan), one of the most spectacular mountain villages anywhere in Oman. There’s parking in the village, while a restored watchtower provides an optimal viewing platform from which to admire the bowl and encircling mountains below.

Wekan is also the starting point for the hiking routes W24b and W25. Even if you don’t fancy tackling either walk in its entirety, it’s well worth exploring the opening section of walk W25, which winds up through the picture-perfect terraced gardens to the rear of the village, running alongside a bucolic little falaj which tumbles down from the mountainside above – arguably the prettiest short walk in Oman. The walk is waymarked (albeit not very clearly) from the village centre and it takes around twenty minutes to reach the top of the village.