There are places on Earth where modern civilisation’s impatient ruthless hand has not touched. This does not mean that people continue to live there in the Stone Age — in the homes they have all amenities, but part of their heritage, they carefully preserve and allow us to look at least one eye in her past.
Such places are there in Oman: Far and high in the Al Hajar Mountains is a historically significant village Misfat Al Abreyeen. The 4,500-year-old beehive tombs of Bat are nearby to the northwest, and standing guard just above the village is a ruined fort from the Old Persian Empire. Misfat Al Abreyeen is quite a mountain village with an old irrigation system on the terraces, with the settled measured way, with donkeys on narrow paths, with the energetic boys diving into the stone basins with cool water from the falaj, however, almost in front of each entrance there are modern Toyotas, BMWs, VWs and many more. The village can be reached without SUV.
There’s no town gate. There’s no ticket booth. There are no signs. You just park your car at the dead-end road in front of the village, and walk through one of the ancient rock arches to time-travel back to the 12th Century. This is an ancient land that predates history and script.
It is said that Misfah has only opened up to the outside world in this current generation, and there was absolutely no commercial activity and seemingly no desire to welcome any form of ‘modern tourism’. This adorable village is perched above two large ravines.
The opulence of the palm strikes to the aridity of the mountain. The credit goes to the countless gullies that wind through the orchards, pass under the rock, spanning a small gorge. The ancient houses have unique designs with arched passageways and the rooms are spread out in two or three levels. Beyond the village, the road leads to a pool of water created by the overflow of the falaj. Children swim in the three-metre deep pool, diving from the roof of an adjacent house. The falaj goes around the village up to the point where the date palms stand.
You hear the joyous laughter of water from terrace to terrace through the falaj by the walk way. On the way you see small blockades in the canal with raised flat stone which deviate the flow of water — old style. Lemons, pomegranates, mangoes, papayas, banana plantains, onion, grass ... everything grows effortlessly in this garden. Here one has never experienced drought and falaj has not changed since generations. With its lush gardens, tall grasses and abundant fruit trees it looked almost like a rainforest region, aside from the sturdy mud brick houses and occasional donkey. Go down the walkway and that will lead you to the cliff of a great gorge.
The village is characterised by its alleys, traditional high mud and stone buildings, and agricultural terraces that wrap around the mountain, along with the old buildings. Misfat Al Abreyeen rises a thousand metres above sea level. The homes of its inhabitants are at the top of the mountain and their farms are on the slope. It is said that the first house in Misfat Al Abreyeen village was built two hundred years ago. These geographical features of this hamlet have played a major role in determining their refusal to opt for a different lifestyle and cling more on their rich traditional past. Here life is a classic hand-over legacy practised by many generations.
You can see the mountain village set amidst stunning landscape has hardly changed over the years except for some developmental works like roads, electricity and telecommunication networks.
The lifestyle of the farming community has hardly changed despite modern development reaching the village which has succeeded in combining modernity and tradition. The municipality has built a park at the entrance of the village for visitors to relax. Those visiting the area must, however, be careful while exploring the village and must seek permission before taking pictures of the villagers, especially women.
Since the end of 2010 it is possible for you to stay overnight in a traditional, lovingly restored mud brick house, in the middle of the cool garden. The rooms are simple but nice, and decorated with historical everyday objects. Spending a night in the Oman House will give you a unique perspective on the former way of life in the village. Ahmed Al Abri, who runs the old house, has decorated the 11 rooms with utensils and objects which were used in former times. The pleasant, comfortable atmosphere of the ancient house, nestled among the date palms, with the centuries-old canals flowing by is world out of the boring normal star hotel rooms. Meals can be taken on the rooftop terrace, where you have a panoramic view of the palms and oasis. The meals are prepared by an Omani family, your next door neighbours.
How to get there:
On the Nizwa-Bahla interior road turn right at the junction after Tanuf. Proceed nearly 20km on the road to reach Al Hamra. Near Al Hamra souq, turn right and the road goes up the mountain for three kilometres and leads to Misfat Al Abreyeen.
Location: 23°08’26.4”N 57°18’36.8”E
Where to Stay:Misfat Al Abreyeen Old House
+968 9934 8440
Price starts from OMR30 for single room with dinner and breakfast.