Bilad Sayt

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Oman has a great many mountain villages which until very recently were inaccessable by vehicles. Bilad Sayt is one such village, and even now there is no paved road to take you there. The journey from Muscat takes a couple of hours, going through the dramatic Snake Gorge and along tracks hanging onto the sides of cliffs, only just wide enough for a land cruiser.

We took a day trip to Bilad Sayt from Muscat in 2008, using a local driver. The town itself was just the end of the road, in this case the pleasure was in the spectacular journey itself.

Nakhal Fort

Once we left the main highway, our first stop was Nakhal Fort. It had clearly been recently renovated, and although there wasn't much inside, it was pleasant to wander and explore.

Staircase within Nakhal fort, the whole place looks pleasingly somewhat like a giant sandcastle.

Staircase in Nakhal Fort

Reading room in Nakhal Fort

A carpeted reading room inside the fort, done in the Arabian style.

Further down the road, we came to some natural hot springs with a small pool, where we had a short paddle. If only I'd brought my swim stuff.

Hot springs


The town of Nakhal itself is an oasis, a lush carpet of green juxtaposed against the sheer rock of the Omani mountains.

Within the palmerie itself, they really make the most of the small amount of water seeping from the ground.



Onwards and the road becomes a dust track, and then a wadi, the dried up bed of a river. There are occasionaly flash floods which keep it clear, but nothing of the sort on the baking hot day we cruised up there.

Snake Gorge itself, as viewed from one of the precarious dirt tracks that cling to the cliffs. This area was the most like the backdrop for the roadrunner and the coyote that I've ever seen.

Snake Gorge


Folded stratification in the Omani mountains. Not very clear in this picture is the transmission tower at the top left of the fold, as a reference for scale.

Eventually we arrived at the small village of Bilad Sayt, very quiet and a good spot for lunch. I wandered around the village for a while but didn't see many people.

Bilad Sayt

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2008