If there is one place you have to visit in Oman, it’s the tiny village of Misfat Al Abriyyin. There is hardly a mention of it in the Lonely Planet guidebook, but I think it should be noted as one of the top 10 places to visit. We spent a night here, in an old home which has been converted into a guesthouse, and didn’t want to leave. The village and its surrounds are incredibly picturesque, unlike any other place I have seen in our travels through Oman so far.
The old part of the town, in which now only live a few families, is set on top of a mountain and is surrounded by green terraced gardens. The old homes, some of which are thought to be about 200 years old, have unfortunately been left to crumble. It is interesting to wander around the narrow dust covered paths which lead through the villages, but the nicest walks are found in the gardens at the lower part of the village.
We did two of these walks – one which went down and south of the village, and the other which led north and wrapped around the village. There are painted markers on rocks, which look like small red and yellow flags, to guide you and to lead you away from private property.
The first walk we did early in the morning. We followed a path which lead through the gardens on the lower end of the village and veered south. This walk let us down a long set of stairs and into a wadi and then up another set of stairs to the new part of the village. From this point we looked back and had a wonderful view of old village of Misfat Al Abriyyin, which looks as though it is emerging from the rocky mountain and date plantation beneath.
Later that day, we followed the falaj (irrigation system) towards the north. As we walked along the falaj, we wandered through gorgeous date plantations and lush green gardens. Many of the locals were tending their crops, but hardly noticed as as we walked by. The sound of the following water and the crocking of frog, many of which we saw floating though the water, made us feel as though we were in another world.
In the few sentences that refer to Misfat in the Lonely Planet guidebook, it is mentioned that the village is a tourist destination. As much as I urge people to visit, as it is so beautiful, you do not get the sense that the village is much visited by outsiders. We bumped into perhaps 10 visitors at most during the day we spent there, all of which were staying at the only guesthouse in town. There is no sign of tourism, expect for the signs leading to the guesthouse, so it really does feel as though you are visiting an authentic Omani village, which you are.
As there is no public transport throughout Oman, you’ll have to hire a car. The road to the village is seal and can be reached in a regular sedan. However, I would always suggest you hire a 4WD during any road trip through Oman, as there are a number of places you might like to visit which can only be accessible with one.
Misfat Al Abryinni is located about 35km north of Nizwa, along the Nizwa Bahla road. Once you reach Nizwa, follow the signs to Jebel Shams, Al Hoota Cave and Al Hamra. The nearer you get, follow the signs to Al Hamra. Once you are in Al Hamra, there will be signs to Misfat Al Abriyyin, which is a 7km from Al Hamra. Park your car outside the village, as you can only enter on foot.
Stay & Eat:
The only accommodation and restaurant is Misfat Old House, which can be booked via bookings.com. It is a traditional home, which has been renovated and converted into a guesthouse. The rooms are very simple, but it is a beautiful place to stay. As most places in Oman, it is expensive for what it is, but it’s worthwhile staying in the village and taking your meals on the terrace which overlooks the date plantation and the mountains beyond. If you’re only doing a day trip to Misfat Al Abriyyin, you can also stop by for lunch.
You are visiting an Omani village which has been untouched by modernisation. The people are still very traditional, so please be respectful. Wear shirts which cover your shoulders, and skirts and shorts which cover your knees. Always ask to take photos of people and never take photos of the local women.