Bald Sayt, Oman remotest village.

Exploring a Remote Village in Oman

Bilad Sayt Oman remote village

Oman map

Oman is land of rugged, ancient, and mysteriously beautiful! We were so excited when have the opportunity to live in UAE and have the chance to explore this ancient country which just few hours drive away. Oman is divided into two main parts: the northernmost which located on the tip of Musandam Peninsula; and the main land which on the southern part and this is the largest part of Oman sharing border with 3 countries: UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

In this blog, I will be sharing my experience capturing two places in Oman using my trusty 7 years old Leica X1: Nizwa town, and an ancient remote village called Bald Sayt. I did visited Oman many times afterward and brought my other camera (Leica ME) which I will write about that in other posts.



Nizwa is an ancient town and used to be the capital of Oman in 6 - 7th centuries AD. I can see the majority of the buildings are old and interesting. On that day the weather was bright with a clear sky, but we arrived late noon thus the market is almost empty. There were only a few shops selling pottery that are still open and I took a few shots.

We wanted to visit the famous fortress of Nizwa, but the timing wasn't possible on that day. Later we visited Nizwa again in the next following year and I took my Leica ME to capture this particular fortress, which I will be sharing in my other post.

The first two landscape photos were taken during the trip to Nizwa. Those photos show that the camera handles a contrast light situation quite decently. The first picture of the abandoned fortress was shot using an F2.8 aperture and yet it still very sharp all around.

Goat on Oman street

*Mountain goat on street | ISO 100, F2.8 at 1/1600 sec

Fortress in Oman

*Abandoned Fortress | ISO 100, F2.8 at 1/2000 sec

Oman mountain and Nizwa market

*Al Hajar Mountain | ISO 100, F5.6 at 1/1000 sec (left) | Nizwa market gate | ISO 100, F5.6 at 1/800 sec (right)

Their pottery design looks interesting and unique to the region. There are many interesting things to see and we kind of regret having arrive late. However, We are planning to visit again and spent more time exploring this beautiful old town.

Pottery shops in Oman

*Pottery shop | ISO 100, F2.8 at 1/800 sec (left)  | Potery shop | ISO 100, F2.8 at 1/250 sec (right)

Nizwa market

* Nizwa Souq | ISO 100, F2.8 at 1/320 sec

The Photo above of Nizwa Souq was overexposed (the outside view from the door), I think is due to the fact I am using low ISO which increased the contrast, and wide aperture. Later in this page, I shot a scene (Snake Canyon) with the same lighting situation but using higher ISO and smaller aperture which I found work better.


Bald Sayt Village

The following morning we off to visit Bald Sayt, an ancient village which located on the slope of Al Hajar mountain and only accessible by 4WD car through an off-road path. But first, we must reach the "entry point" where the off-road journey begins. We drove about 2 hours from our hotel near Nizwa through small villages with green and peaceful roads. Sometimes we also encounter a cluster of abandoned old houses.

Oman villages road

* Green and peaceful village road | ISO 100, F5.6 at 1/500 sec

Abandoned old villages in Oman

*Abandoned old houses | ISO 200, F5.6 at 1/1000 sec

Bilad Sayt map

We took the Nizwa route, which we will descent from Sharfat Al Alamayn. It's an off-road and nerve breaking narrow-mountainous paths that we have to drive so slowly. It around 15km off-road trip to Bilad Sayt, and took us almost two hours.

Oman gravel road

* The beginning part of the off-road which is wide and flat | ISO 100, F5.6 at 1/1250 sec

Snake Alley in OMan

* Snake canyon | ISO 500, F5.6 at 1/640 sec

Dead Snake in Oman

* Dead snake | ISO 100, F2.8 at 1/2000 sec

In the beginning, the off-road path is quite easy, wide, and flat. We even enjoy the surrounding desert and rocky mountain views.

On the way, we stopped at an interesting spot called "Snake Canyon" where it's a narrow path among two canyons. We wonder why is it called snake canyon, is it because of the twisting narrow path like a snake; or is it because there are many snakes there? as we saw a dead snake was hanged on a tree nearby.

The shot of Snake Canyon above is a showcase of how this little X1 manages to capture a wide dynamic range. That day was so bright and contrast, I was worried and start to think to take bracketing shots. But I decided to try setting the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to around 30% of it's maximum. Hoping that this will give enough lights for the shaded area and still able to prevent overexposure for the bright area; Which turn out good.

Oman Oasis

* A glimpse of the village | ISO 100, F5.6 at 1/1250 sec

We continue driving slowly, and about an hour later we saw a glimpse of the village. It's like a green oasis in the middle of a dry rocky desert. Beautiful view indeed. As we reached, we parked our vehicle a bit further from the village and walk toward the village. It was a surreal and mystical experience.

After hours of driving through the narrow-mountainous and rocky landscape, here we saw an oasis with ancient-looking village surrounded by green farms and rice fields. So far this is the most remote self-sustainable ancient village we have ever visited!

We walk around the village enjoy the mystical feeling and talk to super friendly local residences. I appreciate the feeling of being far away from modern city life, here time seems like abundance.

Rice field in Oman

* Bald Sayt residence | ISO 100, F2.8 at 1/640 sec (left)   |  Bald Sayt rice field | ISO 400, F2.8 at 1/400 sec (right)

Bilad Sayt houses

* Old houses in Bald Sayt village | ISO 400, F5.6 at 1/400 sec

Oman remote offroad

* Road on the way back | ISO 400, F5.6 at 1/1000 sec

Oman mountain

* Distance view | ISO 200, F5.6 at 1/200 sec

Time passed very quickly and it approaching evening. We decided to leave quickly to avoid driving in the dark through those narrow mountainous off-road. When we finally reach the highway, it was sunset. We stopped for a while to have a look back from afar at the remote village that we have just visited. As it is shown in the last photo, the sunset hit the tip of the mountain and quickly disappear leaving the landscape in total darkness. We feel lucky to have reached the main road before dark. However, for sure we will plan to come back and probably will have a camp nearby so we can have more time exploring the village.

If you had visited Oman, I would love to hear your experience too!

*Story and photos © Julius Yls
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Julius Yls
Julius Yls

Educator & Art technologist.

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