Extremely steep descent on a narrow dusty trail, with sharp turns and local traffic. As slow as possible, as fast as necessary. You must trust your brakes.”
Time to leave Nizwa and get back on the trail towards Wadi Awf (the snake) and the village of Bilad Sayt. It’s one of the most beautiful spots of Jabal Hakhar, offering breath taking views and challenging driving. Coming from Nizwa you must drive down which I think is even more challenging than climbing, as you would do if coming from the town of Rustaq, at the other end of the wadi. Extremely steep descent on a narrow dusty trail, with sharp turns and local traffic. As slow as possible, as fast as necessary. You must trust your brakes. The sharp pins prevent you from using your 4×4 low gear. It’s all in the braking here. But why speed anyway, the view is magnificent – as long as you can handle height – Otherwise you’ll need to keep your eyes on the trail and avoid the stress of the cliff. It ain’t that bad, once you’ve done it a few times, but the first attempt can be a bit impressive.
At the bottom, Wadi Awf, offers a multitude of activities. Canyoning is the most popular one. Going through the narrow canyon and its pools of fresh water is a must. But not alone, not without proper gears and not under a menacing sky. Rain here is a killer for the unprepared. Trekking is the other fun choice. Oman National Trail W1O taking you from the village of Bilad Sayt back to the top of the cliff is also a fantastic adventure. But again you better be ok with heights as some stretches are right on the edge.
Bilad Sayt is a typical mountain village with its old houses and its plantations. Date garden and crops bringing color to the landscape. As I arrive mid morning villagers are still busy in the field. Men and women attending to their lot. Its postcard beautiful, peacefully tugged away between tall mountains. A reminder of the ancestral way of life.
Not too far above, on the trail leading to the village, is a soccer field. Nothing very unusual with that, since almost every village, no matter how small, no matter how remote, has manage to create a playing field for one of their favorite pastime. The difference here, it’s not the common dirt and rocky field, it has artificial grass. It’s a fairly recent addition, I have been here before and it’s the first time I see it. Turns out Audi filmed a commercial here promoting their SUVs, and transformed the rugged old pitch into a superb venue for the local kids. Brilliant ! (Knowing the place, knowing the kids, I can’t help the tears of joy running down my face each time i see it)