Travel


Wadis beckon


Pic by AFTAB H. KOLA

The lush vegetation around wadis and the water bodies they shelter offer great spots for eid holidays. AFTAB H. KOLA dips into the origins and the lush presence of some well-frequented wadis.

For those who want to experience the true joy of being in the lap of nature, wadis are a like spa for the mind. Here, a genteel air of comfort and a crisp and clean environment reign over the place.

Oman is punctuated by a string of wadis along the banks of which lush date plantations grow. These pockets make interesting places for picnicking and excursions.

A wadi is basically a dry riverbed, which comes to life after heavy rains, when the streams start flowing again and the vegetation is restored. However, some wadis have year-round running water, with deep, cool pools in which it is quite safe to swim when the currents are slow.

Wadi Dayqah, also called Wadi Mazara, is a wadi near Quriyat.Wadi Dayqah is the most easily accessible wadi for residents of the Muscat Governorate. The wadi links the Sharqiyah region with Muscat, meandering from the eastern Hajar mountain range from Wilayat Dima and Taieen.

At the far end of the wadi where mountains loom large, on a small hillock a fort-like structure adds an element of beauty and history to the place. Te Wadi Dayqay dam has come up along one side of this wadi. Landscaping and picnic spots have been recently erected.

On the Quriyat-Sur road you have the Wadi Shab, according to me the most beautiful in Oman and Wadi Tiwi.

The mouth of Wadi Shab is one of the most picturesque spots in Oman. Wadi Shab, a pretty stream wedged between high rocky cliffs, lies 76km from Quriyat. The wadi combines the attraction of coastal pockets with inland wonders. The entire stretch of the wadi has seven pools of shimmering emerald green waters studded with boulders. You need to take a deviation from the main highway to reach the wadi.

One of the pools is in a cave where light streams in dramatically from above and there are fantastic echoes as you swim and splash about. This wadi is frequented by tourists, who camp the entire night and enjoy the serenity of the area. The cool and inviting waters tempt one to make a splash, which we did.

About seven kilometres away from Wadi Shab starts Wadi Tiwi which extends 36km inland and ends at Mibam, a mountain hamlet. Many groves and fruit trees grow along the course of this wadi. The azure blue sea is visible as you ascend the hills and descend into the valley.

Most popular wadi
Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman's most popular wadi, is a place where the elements of nature blend. This wadi is filled throughout the year with water -" still and glistening in the sun.
The wadi is famous for its lush green oases, water pools and deep canyons. Most visitors to this spot are awestruck by its serenity and almost unreal pace of life.

Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the six major wadis in the Sharqiyah region and is located around 250 kms from Muscat on the way to Sur via Ibra. The tarmac road takes a turn from the main road and leads you to the town of Wadi Bani Khalid and later you have to cross the foothills of the Eastern Hajar mountains to get to the wadi.

On the way, you get splendid and spectacular views of the steep mountains and fertile wadis dotted with date palms. The actual Wadi Bani Khalid is serenely ensconced in high mountains. The visitor has to park his car and walk to reach the turquoise and green pools of water. Even as you walk, you will notice the water flowing through the falaj system.

Surrounded by beautiful date palms, the wadi is an oasis in all senses of the word. There are two pools of water here. One is the deep pool where only expert swimmers can have fun by jumping from a small bridge laid out against two rocks like a diving board. A word of caution about this pool is that it is deep on the edges and shallow in the middle.

The water seems to be springing from the mountainside and flows down to the smaller pool, which is not very deep.

Perennial springs
Yet another wadi where you will find water throughout the year is Wadi Hoqain on the road to Rustaq. The wadi is endowed with a plentiful concentration of mineral springs -" some gentle, some gushing. The larger of the two niyabats of Al Rustaq, the ancient town of Hoqain lies a short distance from Rustaq town.

It is a half-hour's drive from Al Woshil, one of four routes leading to Hoqain (Other routes originate from Suwaiq, and from Al Hazm). Wadi Hoqain courses through the main part of the village.

Hidden treasure
The Wilayat of Ibri in Dahira region is also blessed with some wadis in addition to some archaeological treasures. Wadi Dham, which is enveloped by serenity, is a perfect place to unwind and de-stress your mind. Dham, which means easily hidden, is an apt name as the graded road leading to the wadi does not provide any idea to what is in store for visitors.

Other wadis
Wadi Bani Awf is one of the fascinating wadis of Oman. Located in wilayat of Rustaq, Wadi bani Awf is often referred to as Oman's mythical snake gorge, which is small section of the wadi trail. It is not that easy to traverse this wadi. Pretty oasis villages, blessed with bounteous springs and aflaj, are a striking feature of this wadi.

Adventure tourism is being explored along the trail.Wadi Al Hawasnah in Al Khabourah in the Batinah region is known for its unique geological formations. The wadi traverses through an airhole of ophiolite rocks known geologically as Al Hawasnah airhole. Here tourists can feast on Nature's engineering skills.

The area is unadorned in its primitive beauty and awe-inspiring for its sheer size. The entire area serves as a good source of knowledge on geology. One can see rocks that were originally found at the bottom of the ocean.

One of the most popular wadis in the Batinah region is Wadi Al Abyadh which lies some 30kms away from Muscat on the Sohar highway. Pink oleander trees and many beautiful birds surround this wadi.

Wadi Bani Ghafer, one of the longest wadis in the Wilayat of Rustaq, starts in the Wilayat of Ibri and ends in Balad Khafd in Rustaq. Wadi Sadaq is one of the most important branches of Wadi Bani Ghafer.

The Wilayat of Dhank in the Dahirah region is blessed with an abundance of water resources like Wadi Feda. The wadi is set in a verdant landscape.

Among other wadis that can be explored are the ones in Samayil, Fanja and Al Ayn.

Most of the wadis offer a relaxed atmosphere to visitors, enabling them to break the monotony of routine and get away from the strenuous city life of Muscat.

Useful tips

Though most wadis now are accessible by sedan cars, yet using a four-wheel drive vehicle is advisable as the terrain can get extremely bumpy sometimes.

It is always safer to visit wadis in a group.Although they are beautiful places, wadis are often remote and car breakdowns can happen to anyone. So, car tools should be at hand.

Visitors must also be on the alert for rain clouds, as sudden downpours can lead to flash floods, which are highly dangerous when in the gorges.Camping near wadis can be lots of fun.Keep swimming costumes on hand.

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