Al Mazare (المزراع) of Misfat Al Abriyeen (مسفاة العبريين) is a mountain oasis at the foothills of Jabal Shams at the Western Hajar Mountains in the Dakhiliyah region of Oman. Al Mazare is actually an oasis deep inside the gorge (or wadi) that the village of Misfat Al Abriyeen is overlooking. We have visited Misfat Al Abriyeen on numerous occasions, but never ventured into the gorge to Al Mazare, but this finally changed in a recent visit where we hiked deep inside the gorge. We were astounded by its natural beauty, wilderness and sheer scale of the cliffs surrounding it. This is a definite ‘must-do’ hike for adventure lovers and adrenaline junkies, but we don’t recommend it for anyone with a fear of heights (read on to find why!).
Al Mazare, which literally means ‘farms’ in Arabic, is actually a farming area inside the gorge that we understand to have been used by locals from nearby village as their farming area for palm trees, lemons and other produce. Al Mazare is not a unique name to this area, as there are a few other places in Oman with the same name (such as Al Mazare in Quriyat). The hike to the oasis starts from inside the village of Misfat Al Abriyeen where you can follow the markers (white, yellow and red flags) to route W9 (the signboard at the start of the village gives more information about other things to do there). The path leads you through to the village farm and then a gentle uphill slope on the edge of the gorge with spectacular views of the palm groves and terraced farms of Misfat Al Abriyeen village.
As you continue deeper inside the gorge, and about an hour into the hike, the foot path stops, along with the flag markers (which get replaced by the occasional arrow drawn on big rocks, signifying the end of the official W9 route), and the hike becomes similar to the ‘wadi-scrambling’ you need to do to cross other wadis in Oman. This entails anything from you needing to hop on large boulder rocks, wade through overgrown vegetation and shallow pools, as well as making your way through inch-wide paths on the side of massive drops to the bottom of the gorge. While walking through this part, the terrain reminded me quite a bit to the one at Wadi Bani Khalid or Wadi Dhum; however, the difference is that the drops off the edge of the gorge are significantly steeper with much narrower paths for you to use. This is compounded by a significant drop about 2 hours into the hike (about 20-30 meters high) that you need to climb down by holding onto the side and stepping on crudely made steps into the rocks (the two following pictures show the drop). Now, I am not generally a person whose scared of heights, and I have even abseiled down a cave and did multiple bungy-jumps, but this drop at al Mazare was one the scariest experiences I have had (not having a harness probably had something to do with that). With polished rocks that are extremely slippery, the narrow paths off the Mazare gorge can be very dangerous, and a single mistake or slip could very likely lead to a serious injury or death! Therefore, we definitely do not recommend Al Mazare hike to inexperienced hikers or anyone with a fear of heights, and if you want a place to start we suggest you look at some of the other wadis in Oman.
After the big drop we mentioned earlier, there are a few more narrow paths you need to navigate through and then the terrain changes, with more pools and vegetation making their way and the hiking track being at the bottom of the gorge instead of the edges. We found this part to be the highlight of the hike, and an ideal stop if you like to have lunch, picnic or even camp. There are lots of shaded spots, with plenty of small waterfalls and pools (some of them deep enough to swim) and just complete serenity. We hiked for a total of about 3 hours into the groge to reach this area, before deciding to get back. Obviously, we didn’t quite make it to Al Mazare farms, but we understood from some locals we met that the farms just continue through the gorge, and you can continue for a few more hours inside with similar scenery. With a long lunch stop, the round-trip hike took us about 7 hours.
Before you go:
You will need:
- Food, snacks and plenty of drinking water.
- Hiking boots/shoes, something that can hold a good grip on slippery rocks, I definitely don’t recommend slippers or those water-permeable shoes that you can get away with in other places like Wadi Shab.
- Swimming clothes and a towel, if you intend to take a dip in the pools.
- Camera and waterproof bag, but best to take your secondary camera in case you end up dropping it.
- Secure backpack that would fit tightly to your back without any hanging belts/clasps, you’ll want free hands to hold onto rocks and the cliff-side.
How to get to Al Mazare:
Al Mazare gorge hike starts at Misfat Al Abriyeen village which is approximately 6 kms from Al Hamra village through an uphill zigzagged road, paved all way to the village entrance. Al Hamra is about 200 kms from Muscat, and it can be reached by following the main highway connecting Muscat to Al Dakhiliyah, and either continuing all the way to Al Hamra via Bahla, or taking the side-road through Tanuf before the exit to Nizwa.