Off the Beaten Path in Oman

trekking oman bilad syat

Going remote to get to Bilad Syat

I was surrounded by jagged canyon walls jutting up from the pools of water and shading me from the sun. I wondered if it could get any more beautiful than this – and my answer to that question came as I rounded the corner out of the canyon and stepped out into the sunlight. This is when I saw my first glimpse of Bilad Sayt – a fairy tale like village typical of the old Omani communal settlements of the past. I was stopped in my tracks, “wow” slowly and quietly rolled out of my mouth as my eyes scanned the area and took it all in. A little haze blanketed the village that was built up on a hill with closely clustered homes made of mud and stone. The perimeter of the village was surrounded by date palms making it look like a dessert oasis. Jagged brown mountains surrounded and loomed over Bilad Sait, dwarfing the whole village.

Getting to Bilad Sayt took a little work – but it’s worth it as it’s one of the unique places to see in Oman . It was literally off the beaten path as we had to get there by 4×4 and then by foot. After visiting nearby Nakhal Fort we sped along the lovely new highway snaking around the valley following a dry riverbed. The good news about Oman is that the infrastructure is great – however it’s not all finished yet – so it didn’t take long for our newly paved highway to come to an end and deposit us on dirt roads. We started climbing the mountains in our 4 WD vehicles and the fun began – it was like riding a roller coaster with the most spectacular views in the world. Some of the inclines were so steep that I found myself trying to sit up to see over the hood of the truck to see what descent coming next leaving my stomach full of butterflies.

After an hour of offroading, we parked the cars and then went on foot through the wadi scrambling through water, clinging to rocks, and eventually finding the mountain oasis of Bilad Sayt, the home of one of our Exodus guide, Zahir.

Zahir, walked us around the village explaining the date farming and the complex maze of falaj (irrigation canals) systems. Water gently trickled throughout the whole village via the falaj system giving it a feeling of tranquility on top of the picture perfect setting. Zahir welcomed us into his family home, introduced us to his grandfather and younger brother who served us Arabic coffee spiced with cardamom and various sticky sweet dates from his family’s trees.

Oman is quickly growing, but it was lovely to be able to find mountain villages like Bilad Sayt still existed. Sometimes it just takes a little work to get to them – but getting off the beaten track is the real adventure.

 

Bilad Sayt mosque

The mosque in the village of Bilad Sayt surrounded by mountains.

Bilad Syat Oman Travel

Bilad Syat – surrounded by beauty

Date palm tree oman

Date palm’s surround the village.

Trek Oman Bilad Sayt

Trek through the canyon to arrive in the village

Trekking in Oman villages

Byad Sayt perched up on a hill for protection

oman dates

Sharing dates in Zahir’s home

Trekking in oman

Trekking on the filaj irrigation system around the village.

 

Trekking in Oman

Water crossing in the canyon.

hiking in oman

A steep climb into the canyon.

See all Bilad Syat Photography:

 

How to get there: (instructions from www.nizwa.net)

Bilad Sayt is within easy reach of Al Rostaq town. From the town centre, drive towards Al Awabi, and turn right 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 15km route to the mountain hamlet traverses very rugged terrain and in one place skirts the precipitous edge of the wadi that meanders past Bilad Sayt. The final approach to the village involves a steep climb and an equally dizzying descent before the mountain oasis comes into view. If you are coming from Barka, drive towards Nakhl and Al Awabi beyond. A few kilometres from Al Awabi, an intersection appears on your left taking you to Wadi Bani Auf. The rest of the route is as described above.

Disclosure:  While in Oman I was a guest of Exodus Travels  on their Oman Hiking Tour.  However, all of the opinions expressed here are my own.

Your Comments

17 Comments so far

  1. Looks like a fantastic adventure. The palm trees in the rocky valley looks so unusual – incredible landscapes

  2. Lynn says:

    Wow Sherry! I’ve never had a desire to visit the Middle East until you started posting your trekking adventures through Oman. I may just go on one of these tours. Your pics are beautiful and it looks like you had a great time. Thank you!

  3. Ayngelina says:

    Wow I only wish I could hack a hike like that to see the views, spectacular.

  4. cailin says:

    You must of eaten a lot of dates by the end of that trip! ;)

  5. Kathryn says:

    What a magical place! The beautiful photos of the narrow canyon and your description reminded me of walking through the Siq to get to Petra on my trip there in 1999.I remember that sense of awe when the canyon finally opened and we saw the Treasury. I would love to visit Bilad Syat after reading your post.
    BTW what level of fitness would the last walking bit require? I’m sure my parents would be very interested in going there too but they are 70+.

    • Sherry says:

      Kathyrn – it was sort of like Petra – thanks for reminding me of that! The walk in the canyon and the water was a medium level hike I suppose -but the water stuff was tough. The beginning was a steep climb into the canyon (the pic of the ‘stairs’) and then once you got up into the canyon then you had the water to contend with. But the rest of the canyon was pretty mild. It took about an hour at the most – it wasn’t long – but the car ride to get there is pretty long – but fun! Everyone is different – but I think it would be pretty challenging for 70 yr olds unless they are really good hikers and are comfortable on uneven ground and sometimes having to scramble using their hands and feet.

  6. Rebecca says:

    Just gorgeous!

  7. Laurence says:

    Great photos – particularly the date palm, really like the depth of field on that one :)

  8. i’ve been traveling for years now but I really never been to Oman Bilad..good thing you have this posted as a reference..

  9. Kaleb says:

    Just beautiful! Sherry thanks,It is now on my most visit list!

  10. Richard says:

    Amazing pictures, what model camera are you shooting with? The picture of the water crossing in the canyon is really nice :), Getting off the beaten track is the best, although off roading 4 x 4 can’t be all that bad either ;)

  11. I was in Oman for just one day but I loved it. These pictures are amazing. What an incredible experience.

  12. Ranjan raja says:

    Grate photos and information about oman.

  13. hi3solutions says:

    i’ve been traveling for years now but I really never been to Oman Bilad..good thing you have this posted as a reference..

  14. Ranjan raja says:

    Wow Sherry! I’ve never had a desire to visit the Middle East until you started posting your trekking adventures through Oman. I may just go on one of these tours. Your pics are beautiful and it looks like you had a great time. Thank you!

  15. Trade eighty says:

    You must of eaten a lot of dates by the end of that trip.


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