Wakan to Hadash Walk

Climbing the Eastern side of Jebel Akhdar from the village of Wakan at the end of wadi Mistal up to the Saiq Plateau and down again to the village of Hadash

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For full list of waypoints and tracks (tab-delimited text file) - click here-

Google Earth files:

KML file Route to Hadash and walk

 

 



 


Detailed view of walk. Total walking distance from Wakan to Hadash about 10 km



Vertical profile of walk


This walk is well described in the new Oman Ministry of Tourism guidebook or 'Adventure Tracking Oman (walk 25, page 164), as well as in the wadi Mistal excursion in Hanna's 'Fieldguide to the Geology of Oman' (page 77) 

 

From Muscat follow coastal highway in northern direction to Seeb and beyond in the direction of Sohar. Take Barka roundabout, left in direction of Nakhl and follow in the direction of Rustaq. The left turnoff to Wadi Mistal is clearly signposted some 47 km from the coastal roundabout and about 15 km from Nakhl. The graded roads heads approximately south at all times. It enters the mountains through a narrow limestone gorge, winding around big boulders. Almost suddenly the scenery opens up into the wide Gubrah bowl; at all sides surrounded by steep limestone cliffs. Follow the graded road always in southern direction until you get to a junction signposted with Hadash (left) and Wakan (right). Both tracks are steep and require low gear and careful driving. We parked one car at Hadash (do not drive into village, but park well before, where there is ample space) and drove with all next to Wakan where we started the climb. Parking at Wakan is very limited. If in doubt ask the villagers where they prefer your car to be. Obviously on completion of the walk in Hadash the car in Wakan needs to be collected again. Alternatively it is possible to walk from Hadash to Wakan, but this is across big boulder fans and not easy after a long day of climbing and descending. Plan enough time to park and collect cars. From the junction down in the bowl it is only three kilometers to the villages at the beginning and end of the walk, but they are difficult kilomtres. Count on two hours driving from Muscat......


Google Earth Image, added February 2007 after another visit to the area. Notice the huge flat area of the Ghubrah 'bowl' that has been eroded deep into the Oman mountains, surrounded by an almost continuous scarp of Permian carbonates (Saiq Formation). The outcrops in and at the lower edge of the bowl are Precambrian glacial sediments.. The walk is the track in green. In red the gravel road to Hadash.

Google Earth KML file of Walk

It took us about 5 1/2 hrs to complete the walk as shown on the above maps, but that was with a fit and fast group. It climbs from 1480 m at Wakan to 2300 m over a distance of 4 km, subsequently some 2km at  2300 m following the edge of the Saiq Plateau and a descend down to 1480 m at Hadash over a distance of 3.5 km. A total distance of just below 10 km. Take enough water, even though you have to carry it all. Best do-able in Oman's cool 'winter period' (we walked on 17 February).

The path joins a walk on the Saiq plateau to Manakhir (4km).

The climb from the village of Wakan is marvelous and for the first part of the ascend follows a streaming falaj through the terraced gardens above the village. The fast-flowing falaj system is fed from springs at the base of the permeable Cretaceous/Jurassic/Permian limestones overlying the impermeable old pre-Cambrian rocks that are exposed in the Gubrah Bowl. The contact is visible from a large distance as a beautiful unconformity with the steeply dipping old rocks below and the more flat lying massive limestones above, representing a time gap in the history of our earth of some 300 million years. The old rocks of the underlying Mistal Formation (over 600 million years old) consist of diamictites, glacial conglomerate (bouldery) and volcanic rocks, which are overlain by the thin (5m) cap-dolomite of the Hadash Formation (very well exposed just below the village of Hadash at the end of the walk, see wadi Mistal) and shales and sandstones of the Masirah Bay Formation. These rocks are only poorly exposed above Wakan, but just below the steep limestone scarp the path crosses a small patch of pillow lava's. The spring level is at the contact between Permian Carbonates above (the scarp) and the impermeable shales of the Masirah Bay Formation and the glacial diamictites.

The view back into the Gubrah Bowl is spectacular all along the climb up. The bowl is the second largest 'window' into the old rocks underlying the mountains. The ridges surrounding the bowl are 2000-2500m's high and they are capped by the hard limestones of the Permian to Cretaceous Hajar Super Group. The window was created by deep erosion into the much softer 'pre-Permian' rocks.

The climb is very well signposted and without the clearly painted flags it would be difficult to find the right way up along the scarp. Without the flags it would be impossible to complete the walk within a day. Some parts must be very old, with beautiful staircases made of stone, crossing difficult connections. Because of the steep overhanging cliffs there is also plenty of shade. A sweaty climber may even get cold when the strong winds cool his wet back too much, certainly at the ridge at an altitude of some 2300 metres.

The climb down to Hadash is even more spectacular as it winds along a sheer vertical rock-wall down with parts under overhanging rock ledges, just like walking through a set of balconies.

 


 


 

View east from wadi Mistal up to the limestone edge of the Gubrah Bowl. The low ridge in front consist of the old glacial rocks of the Mistal Formation

   

Through the terraced gardens above the village of Wakan

View back to the terraced gardens of the village of Wakan

Down into the Gubrah Bowl from the edge of the Saiq Plateau

Walking along ledges, a beautiful old path, in many places with boulders bricking-up difficult connections

Giving a feeling of heights

Walking along rock-balconies

 
References:

Dale, Anne and Jerry Hadwin, 2001, Adventure Tracking Oman, ISBN 0 9537854 0 8. Publishers Hadwin, Dale & Yusuf, Aberdeen.

Hanna, Samir, 1995, Field Guide to the Geology of Oman, printed by the International Printing Press, Ruwi, Sultanate of Oman

Oman Trekking (1st edition, ISBN 976-8162-62-8)

 

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@ J. Schreurs February 2004, modified February 2007