Sleepy MISFAT AL ABRYEEN (often abbreviated to Misfat, or Misfah) is one of the prettiest traditional villages in Oman, a picturesque huddle of old ochre-coloured stone buildings looking, from certain angles, a bit like a medieval Italian hill village. Arriving at the small parking area at the edge of the village you’ll see only a single street climbing steeply up the hillside. Dive down one of the side alleys, however, and you’ll find yourself amid a marvellous warren of twisting lanes, covered passages, gateways and meandering flights of steps – all of which bring you down, sooner or later, to the falaj which runs below the village, surrounded by lush bougainvillea, banana palms and other greenery.
Once you’ve explored the village, head back to the main road, walk up the hill and then down the steps on the far side to rejoin the falaj as it exits the village running through a rocky, steep-sided gorge crowded with date palms and tiny terraced fields. You can walk along the falaj walls or the footpath which runs just above it for about 1km up into the gorge until the falaj disappears into a large rock. En route, notice the regular gaps in the side of the falaj from where subsidiary channels run off into fields below; these are kept blocked up with stones, which are removed when the adjacent fields need irrigating.
Back in the centre, it’s also possible to scramble up the rocky hillside to the picturesquely ruined watchtower which stands above the village, and which is said to be over a thousand years old.