Nestled in the foothills of Oman’s Hajar mountain range overlooking a steep valley is the village of Misfat Al Abriyeen. 1,000 meters above sea level, this tiny, traditional village built into the rocky mountain is an agricultural sweet spot and a lush oasis of calm in a region characterised by hot, dry desert. It’s truly one of the best places in Oman to get an authentic feel for village life in the Sultanate.
Misfat Al Abriyeen is named after its traditional inhabitants, the Al Abri tribe. Visiting the village is like stepping back in time to an era before oil revolutionised Oman’s economy and transformed its citizens’ previously simple, modest way of life.
The houses – some up to 400 years old – are built from all natural materials including mud and date palms, with the rocky mountain providing a strong foundation and tiny, hilly pathways winding between them.
The locals keep up Misfat Al Abriyeen’s agricultural tradition, growing a variety of crops including bananas, papayas, mangoes, citrus trees, pomegranates and date palms. Wandering through the village, you’ll bump into locals with their donkey’s laden with greens trundling up and down the rocky paths.
A central feature of Misfat Al Albriyeen is the falaj – the traditional Omani irrigation system, like a man-made stream, which runs through the village supplying the people and crops with water from a spring further up the mountain. The sound of water trickling around you adds to the village’s peaceful vibe.
Standing on the edge of the falaj – the traditional Omani method of irrigation that supplies water to the village
In the heart of the settlement is a small coffee shop, located in the village’s only guest house, Misfah Old House. Its small balcony overlooks the surrounding valley and palm groves and is the perfect place to stop for a cup of Arabic coffee or chai.
One of the best things about Misfat Al Abriyeen is how easily accessible it is. It’s located in Al Dakhiliya governorate just 2 hours away from Muscat, and (unlike many of the top tourist spots in the Sultanate) you don’t need a 4×4 to get up the zig-zag mountain road, which is paved all the way. A bimble up to Misfat Al Abriyeen is ideal combined with a camping trip to the Hajar mountains or a day trip to Nizwa, Oman’s famous old souq town just 40 minutes away.
A word of caution if you’re visiting – stick to the paths! Omanis live here, and while they’re generally extremely welcoming and happy to meet tourists, they (understandably) wouldn’t appreciate you wandering onto their private property. Signs in the village remind visitors to respect the locals by dressing relatively conservatively and not taking pictures of the village’s inhabitants – at least not without permission.
As Oman becomes an increasingly popular destination for tourists, Misfat Al Abriyeen is unique in that it’s relatively easily accessible, yet still very authentic (though minibus-loads of foreign tourists are slowly become more regular).
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Cover image: DK Travel