Oman Tourism: Visit Bilad Sayt, Oman's most picturesque village

Lifestyle Tuesday 08/March/2016 19:33 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman Tourism: Visit Bilad Sayt, Oman's most picturesque village

You discover the true essence of Arabia — so mystic, so unimaginable and so magical — when your four-wheel drive leaves the bustling cities, heading towards interiors of the arid desert region. Drive to the mountains and villages on weekends and discover the true Arabia. Here in Muscat the Al Hajar mountain ranges offer plenty of options.
Bilad Sayt, a fairy tale like village typical of the Arabian settlements of the past, is one of the most picturesque villages in Oman. The mere view of the village will stop you for minutes in awestruck, a ‘wow’ will slowly and quietly roll out of your mouth as you stand there. The village is seated at the foot of towering and dramatic Hajar mountain ranges that just by 2-2.30pm block the sun from falling on the terraced village. Getting there will take a little work — but it’s worth it as it’s one of the unique places to see in Oman.
There are two ways to reach the Bilad Sayt — either via Nizwa, Al Hamra or via Barka, Nakhal, Wadi Bani Awf. The Nizwa route will take more time as you have to descent from Sharfat Al Alamayn and the track is dangerous that you have to drive so slowly. Even if it is only 12-15km from the view point to Bilad Sayt, it will require almost two hours. For a day trip the Wadi bani Awf route is much preferable. Start from Muscat in the morning, you will reach there only by lunch.
The layered silhouette of the rugged mountain range and the adventure through the steep passes are always a dream for every off-roaders. The journey takes you through a wild landscape of dramatic canyons, deep gorges filled with natural spring water and rocky valleys. The part of the track after Az Zammah village in the Wadi Bani Awf should be covered with extra care as it is has steep climbs and descents, sharp curves and deep valleys on one side. Check weather conditions before you leave and do not attempt the journey during or after rains. The road is quite steep with 45 degree climbs at some points and more than 1,000 foot valleys all long. The narrow road which is barely enough at some points for two cars to pass by needs some mountain driving experience and it’s not for the faint hearted.
Turn right at the next junction to reach Bilad Sayt. At your left side down you will see a green football ground surrounded by the mountain ranges, which has been recently picturised in an Audi Middle East commercial. Park your car and walk towards the cliff paved with natural black granite. Suddenly the vast canvas will unfold before you. The mere view of the village will stop you for minutes in awestruck. With its picture-postcard perfection of terraced fields and sun-baked houses, it’s one of the prettiest villages in Oman. The villagers prefer visitors to park outside and walk in or simply view the village from a distance. A little haze blanketed the village that was built up on a hill with closely clustered homes made of mud and stone. The village is surrounded by date palms within it is terraced green fields making it look like dream village. Jagged brown mountains surrounded and loomed over Bilad Sayt, dwarfing the whole village.
Go down and walk around the village, talk to the gentle villagers. Water gently trickled throughout the whole village via the falaj system giving it a feeling of tranquillity on top of the picture perfect setting. The panoramic beauty of the village can best be captured from afar on the drive into the village. A walk around Bilad Sayt will reveal the details of the people and their life here, secluded from the rest of the Sultanate.
Bilad Sayt’s old-world charm lies in its cluster of stone-and-mud buildings built like steps along the slope of a hill. A labyrinth of narrow ways connects these blocks, some of which are even two or three storeys high. A tower, now in ruin, stands on top of the hill overlooking the village. What is disturbing the natural beauty is a mobile telephone tower. From somewhere from these mountains flow crystal streams of water that eventually feed the village’s canal system.
Adding to the village’s rustic charm is the sight of farmers in the green fields, and womenfolk returning from the mountain springs with pots of fresh water gingerly balanced on their heads. In summer, men from the village set out early every morning to scour the nearby mountains for the bhoot tree that produces a type of sweet, purple-coloured berry. The tree usually grows along the ridges of high mountains. The villagers also collect honey stashed away by wild bees from caves and crannies in the hills. Because of its location high in the mountains of the Jabal Shams range, Bilad Sayt enjoys moderate daytime temperatures even in summer.
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How to get there:
From Barka, drive towards Rustaq, and turn left in the direction of Wadi Bani Auf. Drive for about 25km through this wadi until you come to an intersection that will take you to Bilad Sayt. The final approach to the village involves a steep climb and an equally dizzying descent before the mountain oasis comes into view.