Oman Observer

EXPLORING the Falaj & Pools of Wadi Al Arbeieen

Far beyond the popular Wadi Dayqah Dam towards villages quite forgotten by time are serpentine roads no one would ever believe were there. These were unpopular roads heading towards Wadi al Arbeieen. While majority of people are accustomed to going to this beautiful gem of the Sultanate via the road which also leads to Wadi Shab, we took a different route — one which the leader of our group of 11 was familiar of.

“We have to turn the headlights on just right after we passed through those houses,” was an instruction given by the trip leader Haitham al Hasani, representing Oman Outdoor Adventure. He didn’t explain why and it wouldn’t take long for us to figure out the reason behind the instruction.
After passing through houses surrounded by date palms, the rest of the drive would be a barren landscape. It was hard to tell what streets we were passing by as names seemed not important on that side of the country.
For the next 40 minutes, all that would be imprinted in our brain are the clouds of dust — they can definitely choke you if your windows are open and you are breathing them in, but in the comfort of a four-wheel drive where the air conditioning unit is in full throttle, it was a mesmerising sight to see — a mist of golden brown fog so thick only the headlights will betray that there was a vehicle running through these clouds of dust.
Because these were unpopular roads, they were bumpy and uncomfortable, much like one is taking a rollercoaster with one of the wheels missing. But it is the kind of drive that I like and running at a well-controlled 80 kph, it turned out to be a manageable drive even for someone who was first time to pass through that road.
The drive would take us on a cliff overlooking an emerald pool dotted by lush groves of date palms. There are houses every now and then but from that vantage angle, it was nature at its best.
“I’ve made a point to come because I’ve never been here and I’d been hearing a lot that this is a must visit for anyone in the country,” Jaja Teng, now a regular part of the adventure group, shared.
“And I would definitely see that this view alone is worth it. The photos I saw of this wadi wasn’t lying,” she shared.
Driving closer to the giant emerald cauldron that holds cold water, there were already a group of people swimming.
“Is it freezing cold?” I shouted. And the response was just a nod of the head from one of the guys below before jumping into the waiting embrace of the magical water of that mountains.
It wasn’t originally part of the itinerary but seeing in a distance that there was a nice falaj where a group of guys was camping, several members of the group insisted that we have to do an hour of trekking.
“It’s crazy not to fully enjoy this good place. This doesn’t look so hard to trek and we should be back in an hour,” Jasmina Mehic, the feisty Croatian adventure shared.
“That falaj truly look amazing to walk on by,” she added.
What would have been an easy trek proved to be quite challenging.
First, there were the huge boulders of rock we have to conquer. The boulders led to concrete walls that serve as the falaj’s foundation. We have to grapple against the edges of the rocks to lift ourselves up to get on top of the falaj.
The whole length of that falaj system is a good 20-minute walk. But just because they were pre-programmed to make the flow of water easy from one place to another, it doesn’t mean that it should be easy for people to walk on by as well.
“This right here is a good 30 minute of cardio in the gym,” one of the guys quipped while trying a yoga-isque position to overcome a curb. There was so small a space to manoeuvre that a wrong move would mean falling on the side of the cliff.
Some members ended up crawling while others ended up hanging just to get from one point to another. Yet everyone forged ahead.
The one-hour trek earlier thought end up to be over two hours but looking back not only at the beautiful view behind us and the magnificent pool of water in front of us where we began the trek made the trip truly worth it.
As we were heading out, about six cars started to come in. Along with them are picnic baskets, tents and a few mats to use for sitting.
“We’d been camping here since yesterday, it seems there are a lot more tonight,” says Khalid, one of the Omanis we’ve met along the way.
“You guys should definitely have taken some time enjoying the water. With this heat, you’d feel it’s refreshing,” Khalid’s company pointed out and it was such a shame that we have to go so early.
But then again, we can always come back. It’s the beauty of the Sultanate, what you haven’t done on your last trip, you definitely can do again on your next visit.