With photography gears in hand, Althaf Abdul and his colleagues from FSO Muscat had always thought of Wakan as one of the Sultanate’s hidden treasures — a garden paradise located on top of the mountain where the peace and quiet are just usually broken by lost tourists or overly excited visitors.
Located approximately 130 kilometres from Muscat Airport, Wakan has seen plenty of traffic over the years thanks to its almost 700 steps leading to a beautiful fruit and root-crops laden fertile ground and a trekking trail, one of the most challenging, that had been a dream of many hikers to conquer
At 2,000 metres above sea level, the village of Wakan is one of the almost dozen sleepy communities dotting the mountains of Nakhal in Al Batinah South Governorate.
While most of the main roads are a smooth and easy drive, the climb towards the mountain is quite a rough one which is why four-wheel drives are required.
The roads are also very narrow with usually just one car at a time can pass. Carved at the side of the mountain, the other side of the road is unprotected and have no rails that a single driving mistake can be fatal.
The challenges the roads pose are nothing compared to the passion of Abdul and his friends to see the blossoming of the apricot trees.
The pink blossoms have become part of the calendar of many Oman residents that yearly, the number of tourists visiting is on a notable rise.
“The season of the apricot flowers is a must see as it covers almost the entire village of Wakan,” Abdul said.
“When we visited, the flowers were already in full bloom. They blossom for only 15 to 20 days and we visited within the first 10 days that the blossoms are coming out,” he shared.
Abdul shared that he and his friends left Al Khuwair at around four in the morning hoping to catch the morning sunrise providing the needed golden glow on the pink flowers.
“On the way, however, we missed the Nakhal Exit and thanks to Google map, we eventually found our way back to the right road. There are no street lights on the road leading to the mountains where Wakan is located. We arrived a bit late than planned but we saw what we came for,” he said.
Abdul shared that they hurriedly entered the village gate and walked towards the garden as fast as they can. With 18 to 20˚C temperature and the golden sun rays hitting the top of the mountain, it was a beauty to behold.
“Throughout the way, we can see apricot trees in full bloom. It is difficult to explain that feeling of walking on those ancient steps with the white flower ahead and the cold breeze embracing you,” he said.
Abdul said that to get a better view of the foliage and the village, they have to go straight ahead to the viewing point. From there, they have a good view of the splendour of the village.
“While we came there to get great shots of which we did, we fully enjoyed the beauty of the season,” he said.
Abdul shared that going into the plantation area is restricted which is why they have to make do with the blossoms along their way. Even that, he noted, is a true gift to see.
“The villagers are very friendly and humble,” he said.
Since they were all photographers with different taste, each of them focused on their area of interests. Some spent the three hours clicking landscape, portraits, birds, macros and architectural photography.
“By nine in the morning, more visitors arrived. One of the problems in Wakan is the parking area as it’s limited. By the time we finished, the parking area was already full,” he said.
The temperature on the mountain can change fast. After walking 700 steps and with the sun now in full display, he said the temperature then rise to 24˚C.
“We were all starving by the time we finished. After arriving at the parking area, we had tea and planned to head back. We had a group photo in the watchtower near the information centre,” he shared.
For Abdul, his trip to Wakan is a real fruitful one.
“We left Wakan bringing with us some beautiful pictures,” he said.