Approaching Imti, the mountains suddenly appeared ahead of us as if in soft focus, with the edges blurred by the mist of a morning that was still in the process of beginning. I was keen to capture this moment, the layers of the dark, jagged shapes offering a sense of depth, if not quite as sharp as I had hoped.
As we moved onwards, the sky began to slowly lighten as the new day started to assert itself. To be honest, my companion and I were filled with a sense of foreboding as we approached the village of Imti, which can be found on the way to Nizwa. We had set off from Muscat before sunrise, around 3am, and expected it to be daylight by the time we arrived at our final destination. It wasn’t.
As we turned off the main road and trundled across a wadi and then through a narrow alleyway towards the village, there was still no sign of the sun and it was with some trepidation that we continued. It would be easy to miss the turning to Imti. Indeed, I imagine that most people speed past it on their way to Nizwa and beyond.
It’s a shame because, as we discovered, the village has an allure all of its own to those with a sense of adventure.
The sign on a wall that greeted us said, rather incongruously, “Imti Sport Village” and we never really discovered what the “sport” part was. Passing farms and greenery, we stopped randomly. Parking the car, I ventured out on foot, with ruins of old stone houses looming over me in the stillness. There was no sign of anyone else – it was still too early for anyone to be up – and hardly a sound could be heard. The silence was a little unsettling.
Some stone archways with a path underneath near ruined houses caught my attention and made a nice picture. While parts of the village are abandoned and slowly disintegrating, other homes, while old-fashioned, are still very much inhabited with visible signs of life.
I had a sudden feeling that I was being watched and turned to see a herd of inquisitive goats staring impassively at me from a slight distance. The goats displayed a bit of attitude, striking a pose to be photographed, and were seemingly enjoying the attention.
Further on, I found some old traditional, mud-brick houses, long since abandoned and left to return to the soil as they crumbled away. It was sad to see that these seem to have turned into some sort of unofficial rubbish dump, with piles of trash strewn around inside the rooms where families once lived and children played.
As I climbed up a rocky outcrop, it was still only 5am, and the view below showed that the village was still mostly asleep; only the figure of an old man could be spotted from afar. It felt cold and deserted.
Part of me was enjoying the cooler feel and wind, making a refreshing change from the oppressive heat and humidity in Muscat.
Back down in the village, I got some nice shots of old Omani doors; one bright green in colour. Looking up, I was drawn by three windows high up on the wall, two green and one brown, of unsymmetrical shapes and placed quite haphazardly, it seemed, from the ground. One window, a green one, was separated from the other two and looked a bit lonely. The image was my favourite photograph of the day.
When the morning finally broke and the sun’s rays poured down, my friend and I sat for a while enjoying the way they seemed to transform the village, bathing Imti in a warm glow that made it seem much friendlier than before.
Next time you’re on the way to or from Nizwa, I urge you to take a small detour and discover Imti for yourself.
How to get there:
Take the main road, route 15, from Muscat to Nizwa. Before Izki, the village of Imti will be signposted. Take the turning and when you reach a roundabout head straight over. Continue straight, crossing a wadi, and follow the road, which will take you to the village.