After a full on day of trekking Jebel Shams, we were quite happy to take a shorter walk! I was surprised enough to find that my legs would move after the 11 hour trek up Shams, let alone be able to take another walk today.
As Sab (previously Sab Bani Khamis) is an abandoned village literally on the cliff face of Wadi an Nakhur; there is no less than about a 900m drop from the village down to the wadi floor, not a place for kids to be running away with themselves! The route follows a narrow donkey track along the edge of the canyon side at an altitude of 1,900m affording amazing views across the wadi and up to Jebel Shams. It's not the kind of route that you get lost on; on one hand if you veer off to the left, you're scrambling up the cliff side, and on the other, you're falling down the cliff, so pretty obvious where the walk leads!
The walk took us round several spears of rock in the wadi, each with small cairns built upon the edges of the wadi. After each, we expected to see glimpses of As Sab, but just like climbing a mountain, there was yet another spear to navigate. Eventually, we peered around one spear and caught sight of the small terraces (looked small from here!) sat on a huge overhang. Underneath, an arc of rock in the cliff had fallen away into the wadi below. The channels where water flowed through the village and over the edge of the cliff could be seen. It's an astonishing view, realising that the terraces are actually quite large.
Getting closer, you can start to pick up the outlines of stone huts under more overhangs. As we arrived at the start of the village, the sun-bleached tourist sign and map was completely illegible, with the plastic protective covering having been scorched by the sun's rays. At least we had our own guide, which repeated what the map should have told us. The first group of huts were simply one storey, single entry accommodation, complete with fire pits and stools. Further along, the remains of the village flour mill was still intact, if not hugely worn by the years of grinding grain into flour for the local bread. Amazing to think that this village was occupied until about 40 years ago.
We continued on, past a ruined watch tower and into the heart of the village, occupying the area behind the terraces and above the huge rock arch beneath us. This part of the village was set further into the rock, resembling cave dwellings on several levels. We managed to attract a goat, make friends by feeding it currents and get some good posing photos in the process! The route through the rest of the village climbs steeply, snaking through small huts and supply stores. Although it feels like the route stops, I was still aware that the route guide had mentioned a water pool on the ledge above the village. I wasn't expecting to find a pool, however, I was expecting to find the dried up remains of a pool and with a bit of imagination, reconstruct it in my mind.
To my surprise, the pool was thriving! The almost luminescent green water sparkled as the sun bounced off the surface and lit up the inside of a small cave entrance. A trickle of water could be heard dripping from the mosses clinging to a huge column that looked like the guardian to the cave. So untouched for years and absolutely beautiful spot looking back out over the wadi – wish I didn't have to leave! A great finish to a really rewarding walk into the past.