by SALIM AL AFIFI
At the peak of the Al Hajar Mountains, there is a village that sits 2000 kilometers above sea level, known as Wakan Village.
This gem of a place is located at the border of the Al Dhakhiliyah region, and it’s officially considered part of the Wilayat of Nakhal in South Al Batinah, which is about 150 kilometers away from the capital. It’s a perfect addition to your itinerary if visiting Jabal Akhdar (the Green Mountain) is part of your plan.
The residents of Wakan Village are known for their agricultural and farming practices, cultivating a variety of seasonal fruits, such as apricots and pomegranates, among other things, and for that very reason, you’ll spot a bed of beautifully manicured gardens stretched across the mountains, with a few houses occupied by the villagers. If you happen to visit the place at the right time (which is between January and April), you will get to enjoy the breezy weather, the sight of blooming apricot flowers, and perhaps mingle with the colourful butterflies. But that shouldn’t be a reason not to visit this place during the summer as it’s just as beautiful.
The apricot season that takes place between March and April is a true highlight. During this time, the locals grab their baskets and head to the gardens to harvest their best produce. You may spot children sprinting around the steps, carrying basketfuls of honey-coloured apricots, adding a joyful atmosphere to the village.
If you are not convinced by the scenery, come here for the adventure. This charming pocket will make all your trekking dreams come true, offering a couple of hiking routes that come with unparalleled views of the village and the nearby canyon. Treks starts from Wadi Mistal at the bottom and heads towards the mountain, taking you past the picturesque terraced garden of Wakan, all the way to the watchtower at the top. The hike comprises 700 steps that take about 30 minutes to conquer.
Trekkers who have a ton of stamina can take even more challenging routes that lead to Jabal Akhdar. Note that it may take a few hours to reach the famous Green Mountain, so be ready for the hike!
Driving to Wakan Village is a lot of fun. From Nakhal, take the Nakhal-Awabi road towards Wadi Mistal, drive for about 25 kilometers and then start to ascend the mountain. You’ll pass the wadi through a narrow gorge that leads to the Ghubrah Bowl. As you drive around the mountain, you’ll start spotting signs with names of various villages written on them, including Wakan Village, which has a steep and narrow road that leads up the mountains. Make sure you have your 4WD ready. If you happen to be a novice driver or have a certain fear of heights, hire an expert to take the wheel.
It’s worth noting that the village is not a free-for-all touristic destination; it’s a residential village with families, so be a dear and stick to the designated pathways that were put to respect the privacy of those residing in the area. And, inhibit yourself from picking flowers or their fruits, as the locals rely on such produce for a living.