An early morning trip finds Shaquel Al Balushi making new friends and indulging in a spot of parkour.
I once took a trip to this week’s Destination before, but didn’t have my camera as it had been raining, and resolved to return at the earliest opportunity to capture the area and its people.
It’s at the other end of the valley of Mazare (Mazara) that I told you about in my previous outing and it looks like a continuation of the same landscape, but with a bit more greenery.
What also drew me back were the people in this area. Here the local Bedouins, or people of the mountains, have a very distinctive look, so different to other Omanis, with striking features such as green-flecked, hazel eyes.
We decided to get an early start. My friend Imran, a former tour guide and now a chef who often accompanies me on these excursions, picked me up at 6am and the dawn began to break as we left Amerat. Taking the road to Wadi Dayqah, near Quriyat, we carried on straight when the road veered off left to the dam.
Passing the village, we waved to some local men who were taking time out. They were relaxing in an area we dubbed “Wadi Balcony”, a place where they had constructed a verge-like structure out of rock, giving them a panoramic view across the wadi.
Life here begins very early in the morning so although it was only 7am, it looked as if people had been up and about for some time. We also came across a lady, dressed in a vivid blue and black dress with pink trousers, taking her goats for a walk. I snapped a shot of her from the back as she slowly wandered past.
We also came across some small children in light-brown uniforms heading off to school.
It was clear that the villagers did not wish to be photographed directly and I respected their wishes. I wasn’t too disappointed as there was plenty of stunning scenery to keep my camera busy.
We made our way by foot to the valley below the village and began to explore. Due to the recent rains, it was much greener than Mazare, with shrubs and trees adding a much-needed splash of colour to the rocky environment.
The valley floor snakes along through the mountains, providing an easy trail to follow and I jumped at the chance to try out some parkour, jumping and running over the small rocks while Imran tried his hand at photography.
Afterwards, we swapped over, with Imran taking a look around while I captured some close-ups. I got my favourite shot of the day; a white thistle-like flower with a long stem, bathed in a soft glow on one side from the sun. I liked the contrast of delicate, fresh beauty thriving among the harsh, brown palette of rocks and mountains. I also got a nice photo of green leaves.
Layers of rocks also caught my eye, like plates stacked on top of each other. Ruins of an old building, possibly a house, could still be seen. I also got a great photo of a rocky outcrop streaked with the colour of red from minerals. The rock here was soft, crumbling away to the touch.
We also encountered some more goats, which seemed inquisitive about these new interlopers. We named one “Milky”, for his white coat, and admired his elegant posture and neat goatie beard. His mate, “Gangsta”, was much shabbier in comparison, with a shaggy, overgrown coat. However, he gave us a confident stare while the small, black one was named “Simba” after the cub from the film The Lion King. Al Masfa is a great place for trekking. We stayed on the ground but if you’re feeling more energetic, you can head to the top of the rocky outcrop. It’s a challenge but a relatively easy climb if you’ve got the stamina.
If you plan to visit, I would recommend arriving around 7am to make the most of the early morning sun and catch the villagers going about their daily business. By lunchtime, they’ll be finished and taking a siesta at home.
I’m so glad that I came back to this area with my camera. I’m sure that it won’t be the last time.
How To Get There
From Muscat, drive on Route 17 towards Sur and take the Wadi Dayqah turn-off, which is well signposted. When the road forks to the left towards the dam, keep going straight and you’ll pass the village of Al Masfa. A 4×4 car is not necessary. You can park in the village and walk to the valley.
GPS location of village: N23°08’49.7” , E58°49’52.4”