Located high in Oman’s Jebel Shams Mountains, Misfat Al Abriyeen is a tiny hill village, which is located in Wilayat Al Hamra in A’Dakhiliyah Region. It is one of the oldest and most beautiful settlements in Oman located approximately 1000 meters above sea level. Mountain springs provide water for verdant agricultural terraces growing delicious fruits.
Made up of houses, a maze of shaded passageways, beautiful gardens, and open terraces, it’s a well-known spot among both local and international visitors.
Misfat Al Abriyeen is 34 miles (55 km) northwest of Nizwa. A paved road leads to the village, but the village itself can only be explored on foot, as it consists of narrow passageways up and down the steep slopes of the hill.
Misfat is wrapped around a headland and runs along two valleys, clinging to the south side of a steep mountain. The streets are narrow, rough, and steep.
Visiting this ancient village is one of the top things to do in Oman!
History of Misfat Al Abriyeen
The area has a 300-year history of human settlement and agriculture and is best known for its incredible mud architecture. People of Misfat Al Abriyeen have relied on their agriculture for all these years to make a living. Easily one of the most beautiful aspects of the town is the terraces, in which all the fruits are grown.
The settlers of the Misfat Al Abriyeen originally come from a nomadic Omani tribe known as “Al Abri Tribe”. These settlers created the village hundreds of years ago and started to farm the land as a natural Omani oasis was found.
What is really incredible about this village is that the mud-brick houses that are a majority here have stood strong for hundreds of years. This shows the quality of the architecture that can be found in Misfat Al Abriyeen.
How to get there
The only easy way to get there is by motor vehicle. You could get there in what the Omani people call a “small car” but it really is worth hiring a 4×4. There are many beautiful places in Oman, and especially in this village, that you need one in order to get to.
When you arrive in the car park at the highest point of the village, you will need to descend on foot through a network of tiny narrow streets. These streets are very rough and many of them are stepping.
The only other way to get there would be on a guided tour from Muscat. There are lots of companies offering these trips.
What to do in Misfat Al Abriyeen
The countryside around the town is the perfect place to go hiking in Oman! There are many paths that can take you further up the mountain, or along its length.
Additionally, trekking is something you will enjoy a lot. Leave the bottom of the village and walk west, there are several paths out into the western valley which is much more complex and rugged than the smooth valley side to the east. You’ll find several lovely stepped walks among the tiny irrigated terrace fields. These paths were built to give access to all the fields and so they form a network rather than a linear arrangement.
Eventually, these western walks lead up to the road just before the new town, which is a kilometer or two from the old village. These treks will leave you breathless, both from climbing and from the impact of the surrounding beauty.
Attractions near Misfat Al Abriyeen
Misfat is located between (but not on any road between – ) Nizwa and Jebel Shams, and it’s also fairly near Bahla Fort. So you don’t want to miss visiting any of them.
Jebel Shams Balcony Walk: Jebel Shams is the highest mountain in Oman at a few meters over 3,000. The stars are clear up the mount if you avoid the full moon. The road up to Jebel Shams from Nizwa is real magic. Walking across valleys and cliffs, some parts of the road feel as if you are on Mars!
Nizwa: It is the former capital of Oman and is a bustling city surrounded by date palms and with a livestock market held every Friday. The market also sells pottery, metalwork, antiques and hardware as well as meat and fish, and it is very close to the Nizwa Fort.
Bahla Fort: This vast castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bahla Fort sits on a high hill in the middle of the palm oasis, and it is an almost triangular building.
Explore the Aflaj system
The ancient Omani irrigation system that is called “Aflaj” is the way that the agriculture of this village has been made possible. Aflaj means an open irrigation channel. They carry the water from mountain springs to terraced fields in these mountain villages. Their engineering is ancient and tremendously precise, water flows slowly along them. No-one knows when they were built, but UNESCO estimates that Oman’s 3,000 Aflaj systems are somewhere between 400 and 2,700 years old.
Where to stay
Misfah Old House: Misfah Old House is the closest image of an Omani homestay. The Old House was built in the traditional Al Hamra style, featuring a gorgeous breakfast room that overlooks a sea of date palms, and a set of shared and private terraces. The price of a room includes half board (breakfast and dinner), with all meals prepared using locally grown ingredients by women who live in Misfat Al Abriyeen.
Hissen Al Misfah: This stunning hotel offers much to its guests. In true Omani style, the rooms have a cave-like appearance and mattresses on the floor. The staff speaks English as well and the room service is always available and responsive.
People and traditions
If it’s your first time visiting Misfat Al Abriyeen, you need to know that women and men should dress modestly. For example: wear covered shoulders, and get shorts or skirts at least knee-length. Of course, dress codes don’t apply to kids.
In addition to dressing modestly, signs at the entrance of the village request visitors to refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol, and to not pick fruit.
Every year, the whole village celebrates “Eid Al Fitr” with the tradition of Shuwa.
Palm logs are burnt in a deep communal pit within a small courtyard in the heart of the town until the whole ground is hot. Marinated meat is buried by each family in the charcoal embers, then covered, left for two days and exhumed for the feast.
In Misfat Al Abriyeen, many of the old houses have no piped water, and the residents still use public baths. There are parts of the village that are reserved for ladies only. They are clearly marked.
Misfat Al Abriyeen is the perfect spot for anyone who wants to try something different and experience village life. It’s wholeheartedly recommended!
Also Read: Different cultures: Strange traditions around the world