I came to know about this little gem through a friend, who told me of Wakan’s important role in producing figs, one of the few fruits and vegetables mentioned by name in the Holy Quran.
Turning off Route 13 shortly after passing through Nakhal, we followed a wandering wadi until the road gave way to a dirt track. I first glimpsed Wakan far in the distance as we approached. All I could really make out at the time was a tiny picture of life clinging to the rocks amid a barren mountainous backdrop. I stopped to take a picture and then we continued on our journey towards the village.
Luckily, Wakan was very easy to find. It was signposted along the way and even though it was my first visit, my two friends and I managed to reach our destination with no problems.
After leaving the asphalt road behind, we began the steep climb towards the village along a narrow dirt track. And when I say narrow, I mean seriously narrow. Thankfully, the friend who was in the driving seat is an experienced and accomplished off-roader and his modified GMC took everything the mountain could offer in its stride, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend this trip to drivers who are prone to panic. The road was barely wide enough for one car, let alone two, although there were several places where cars could pull over and pass each other. It’s important that drivers exercise both caution and common sense on the drive up to Wakan, using the passing places sensibly and not letting their ego get the better of them and go powering up regardless.
At the top of the track, we parked and set about exploring on foot the quaint little village that sits 2,000m above sea level. I climbed the miniature observation tower and was able to marvel at just how far we’d come.
But there was further still to go, as we were determined to climb the 1.1km trail, made up of 700 steps to the top of the mountain. We were trying to find the source of the water that flowed in the falaj and eagerly leapt up the stairs that ran alongside it.
The sky was a fantastic blue colour. There was absolutely no dust in the air, which made everything so crisp. It was a pleasant temperature and the perfect conditions for a landscape shoot. I kept losing track of time and got carried away taking pictures while my friends would wait impatiently ahead.
On our way up we passed a number of local farmers tending to their crops on agricultural terraces. Several of the plots were green with sprouting plants, but I couldn’t see any of the famed figs. We were greeted warmly by those we saw and were invited to have coffee with a few, but we had to politely decline and continue on our trek.
Hundreds of steps later we found ourselves gazing from the top of the mountain down at the village below and further beyond to the valley far below. It was a truly breathtaking view and the sense of peace and quiet up there was something special. There were no facilities at the top so make sure you take some supplies with you if you visit. There was a bathroom, but unfortunately it was closed.
One of my favourite images was taken from way up there and showed the contrast between man and nature. Looking down, the image was split into thirds; the greenery and fields that were able to grow thanks to the falaj, the village and its manmade structures and the barren and brown mountain valley beyond.
It was a strong image and spoke to me of what we have built, what we have created and where we live. We have been able to not only survive, but also thrive in incredibly remote conditions. I was shocked and impressed with the resilience and endeavour of the human spirit.
Take Route 1 towards Barka and exit at the turn off for Route 13. Pass through Nakhal and the turn for Wakan will be on your right approximately 13km down the road. Once you get close to Wakan you will need a 4×4 because the path is treacherously steep with sharp curves.
GPS Location of Wakan: N23° 8’ 22.455” E57° 44’ 7.08”