Al-Wajmah at AL-Rustaq

Wajmah: a stunning picturesque hamlet 

Few other places in the northern regions of the Sultanate offer such sumptuous beauty spectacular sights, rugged terrain, towering peaks, mineral springs, solitude, and a cliff-side hamlet straight from a picture postcard.  

This, in essence, is a description of Wajmah, a tiny village of just about 350 people living a tranquil, rustic life on a remote mountain ridge in the Western Hajar.Wajmah is at the southernmost end of picturesque Wadi A'Sahtin, about 35 km from Al Rostaq town.  

Stone houses are a feature of Wajmah's cliff-side dwellings. Pictures by Abdullah Ibrahim al Shuhi


Oasis villages located deep in
the heart of Wadi A'Sahtin
Wajmah, in the wilayat of Al Rostaq, is a tiny cliff-side hamlet located deep in the heart of Wadi A'Sahtin. If you have the stomach for a bone-jarring, vertiginous drive to its hillside perch, there is much enchantment in store

It is a vertiginous climb by 4-wheel drive, which should be attempted only by those with the stomach for dizzying heights. Vehicles should be checked and certified as worthy of this perilous climb. 

En route are beautiful oasis villages in little cleavages of the rugged countryside. They are nourished by small aflaj and mineral springs that have collectively enhanced the splendour of Wadi A'Sahtin. 

About 28 kilometres down the meandering wadi, the graded track leaves the wadi bed and begins the steep ascent to one of Al Rostaq's finest attractions.

Date palms grow in a thick
swathe around Wajmah
The twisting, vertiginous 
route to Wajmah
Children frolic in a natural pond, replenished
by the waters of numerous springs, in Wajmah

It is a twisting path, hugging the contours of the rugged terrain with the brooding presence of the Hajar mountains all around.A'Naid, a tiny village at the foot of the mountains, looms into view with its appealing terraced plantations and date trees. 

It is one of many such oasis villages strung out virtually in the middle of nowhere in this rugged countryside. 

Yet the welfare departments of the government are making solid inroads into this remote location running schools, clinics, vocational training centres and other welfare services. 

There are other splendid views of the landscape along the route. Blooms of thal flowers and the A'shia tree, known for its perfumed oil, can be encountered en route. 

Enchanting Wajmah springs into view at the end of the treacherous route. It clings to the edge of an escarpment amid a splash of greenery in spectacular contrast to the surrounding arid, rocky mountains.

Cool springs emerging from close to the summit of the mountain have been at the heart of Wajmah's remote cliff-side existence.

It is a marvel indeed that a rocky mountain should yield such refreshing and perennial springs.It starts as a trickle from the summit, then joins forces with other springs to become a network of burbling streams. They empty into a large pond in which children have an occasional romp. 

The pond feeds many aflaj that course through the hamlet nurturing terraced plantations and other crops. The hamlet nestles in the embrace of an escarpment towering some 800 feet above the cluster of stone houses. The houses are precariously perched on the edge of the escarpment, and one could be breathless by the time one reaches the topmost home. 

A mineral spring trickles out of the mountainside in Wajmah 
The pathways are steep, and one has to be surefooted as the goats reared here, to keep to these tricky paths. 

The village has grown amid the boulders that came crashing down centuries earlier. Occasionally a boulder is still loosed from the face of the escarpment, crashing menacingly close to the houses, but mercifully without any injuries thus far.  

The hospitality of Wajmah's residents knows no bounds. Every visitor is treated to the special warmth of this mountaintop hamlet. The best of the village's fruit harvest is offered, including grapes that grow in abundance here.  

The date trees rise to amazing heights, which is unique to the region. Lemon is also a popular crop. Said bin Khalaf bin Hamed al Abri, one of Wajmah's elders, told the Observer that the surrounding peaks are covered with snow and ice, and the temperature in the village plunges during winter. 

Snowbound Jebal Shams, one of the region's most popular attractions, lies north of Wajmah. 

When it rains, the mountains come alive with myriad waterfalls which flood Wadi A'Sahtin. Often the intrepid among the villagers climb to the summit of their mountain abode to visit a network of caves through which water flows around the year. The Ibex and the wolf also make rare appearances in these mountains, Said adds. 

Wajmah remains unsurpassed as the most charming of Wadi A'Sahtin's many attractions. But along its 35-km course are many stunning facets that make a visit here very rewarding. Twenty kilometres into the wadi lies Amq, one of Wadi A'Sahtin's oldest villages. It is a picturesque oasis village with an ancient watchtower since ravaged by time and nature. 

Towering above the village and its environs are the jagged peaks of the Hajar mountains with the mist-shrouded Jebal Shams located just beyond.Before the wadi got its present name, Wadi A'Sahtin was called Amq. The name was changed in deference to a local dignitary called A'Sahtin who lived in the wadi. 

A'Sahtin's brother Hinai lived in another famous wadi, which later assumed the name Wadi Bani Hinai. Many tourists drive through Wadi A'Sahtin, lured by pretty, tranquil villages with their terraced crops and date plantations. In winter, the pleasant weather prevailing in the wadi makes it a popular tourist location.

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