Balad Sayt (بلد سيت), is a mountain village tucked between the Western Hajar mountains bordering the Dakhiliyah and Batinah regions of Oman, and is part of wilayat Al Rustaq in the South Batinah Governorate. Balad Sayt is located almost half-way through the mountain path connecting Al Hamra to Nakhal/Al Rustaq through Wadi Bani Awf, and is adjacent to “Snake Canyon”. Balad Sayat is a stunning village in picturesque surroundings that should be part of anyone’s check-list of places to visit when coming to Oman. The village is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Bilad Sayt (بلاد سيت) which is a different village under wilayat Bahla in the Dakhiliyah Governorate, about 50 kilometers away.
We always make it a point to stop at Balad Sayt whenever we cross through the ‘Dakhiliyah-Batinah’ mountain path; usually starting from the Dakhiliyah side at Al Hamra to Nakhal rather than the other way around because we would like to have enough time (and day-light) when descending into the valley and gorge where Balad Sayt is located, past the stunning mountain ranges, while the drive from Balad Sayt towards Batinah is through Wadi Bani Awf and not as spectacular.
It was only in the last visit that we actually took a bit of time to step down from our vehicle and explore Balad Sayt village by foot. Granted, Balad Sayt is tiny village and doesn’t look like it has much to offer, but you could easily spend an hour or so just exploring the village and walking through its mazy alleyways. The walk to the ruined watchtower of the village is a must, as you have a fantastic view of the entire village with its traditional houses, plantations and of course the dense palm grooves with their vibrant colors in perfect contrast to the surrounding mountains. If you’d like to cheat, you could also drive your car all the way through the village until you reach the car-park just outside the watch-tower, but in our opinion, this dampens the overall experience you’ll get if you get there by foot.
From our experience, the villagers in Balad Sayt seemed not as used to tourists as other places and probably more keen to approach you and try to offer their help, which is always nice. We understood from one of the village boys that there is a walking trek at the far end of the village beyond the fields, which would take a couple of hours to hike and offer a different perspective of the village. Weather patterns and temperatures at Balad Sayt (and in the whole stretch of mountain path) are really unpredictable and you should definitely not expect it to be anything like what you’ll have when you start your journey, be it from Al Hamra or the Batinah side. The surrounding mountains and altitude result in rapid cloud cover with intermittent rains being common, sometimes at high intensity. During one of our visits in May, despite temperature readings exceeding 40°C, dark clouds starting hovering over the village and belting it with ‘summer-rains’ over a span of 5-10 minutes. This did not affect us the rain stopped soon after; however, heavy rains could result in you getting stranded in this area, especially considering the mountain path you need to cross to-and-fro, so keep that in mind.
Overall, Balad Sayt is a must-stop village if you’re driving through the Dakhiliyah-Batinah mountain path, and we highly recommend everyone passing by to take a bit of time to explore the village. A visit to Balad Sayt could be done as a day-trip from Muscat, with a stop in one of the many attractions in Dakhiliyah (such as Nizwa Fort or Bahla Fort) or Batinah (we stopped at Nakhal after crossing over). You could also of course stop at other villages in the mountain path, such as Haat (هاط) village few kilometers away, or experience the Snake Gorge trek.
Places To Stay
Balad Sayt is a small village with no shops or guesthouses, as far as we are aware; however, if you’d like to have more time to explore the area you could always stay in Al Hamra and drive here (perhaps from The View Hotel), or even better in one of the two ‘guesthouses’ just at the start of the mountain path from Al Hamra to Bilad Sayt: Al Hoota Guesthouse or Shorfat al Alamayn Guesthouse, both of which are approximately 15 kms from Balad Sayt.
How to get to Balad Sayt
Bilad Sayt is approximately half-way through the Dakhiliyah-Batinah mountain path. You can reach it either from Al Hamra by following the signs to Balad Sayt or by taking the Wadi Bani Awf turn off the Nakhal–Al Rustaq road. In both cases, the road is initially paved but becomes harsher and steeper as you go in, and Balad Sayt village is about 15 kms through after the asphalt road ends from Shorfat al Alamayn (from Al Hamra) or Al Tigah village (from Batinah side). You will definitely need a 4WD to get to Balad Sayt, and also need to be comfortable driving in narrow-mountainous paths.