A soothing dip

Natural beauty, mountains, water streams, beautiful sunrise and sunset, that’s Oman for you. And if you add pastel colours to this, you will get what is called the Ain Sahban sulphur spring in Al Batinah Governorate. The pool here is one of its kind owing to high sulfur concentration in the water that gives a calming blue colour to it. A recent visit to this place has been etched as a life-time memoir for us in Oman.

How to reach
A 4WD car is required to reach this area which is a less than 3-hour drive from Muscat towards the highway connecting Suhar to Buraimi. This includes off-roading of approximately 7 km before reaching the main spot, traversing through the adjacent village and aflaj system. For walk-lovers, it may be a good idea to park the vehicle at the local village and walk up to the springs. Care may be exercised though to avoid getting injured by the dry and at times thorny plants around. A little before approaching the main area, we could hear crystal clear water flowing by, inviting us towards it, even more.

What to do
As per available information, the entire length of the spring is approximately 2 km. Water is basically shallow in the spring and deep enough for swimming at a few spots. It gets deep particularly between the spring walls, but within 4 feet at maximum depths, though precaution must be always taken. Though the place is generally heavily crowded on weekends, the spring can be an ideal channel for lazing around, during the afternoons. The surfaces are clay-like with a light blue cotton type appearance. Funny boomerangs videos are good with the children around who generally have a knack for creative ideas on the same. After enjoying in the water in the afternoon to early evening hours, it is highly recommended to stay at the location for an hour or so to enjoy the picturesque sunset while you let yourself dry off naturally, munch on healthy evening snack and garb a cup of steaming tea or coffee.
The overlooking mountains display different shades of greens and browns and the sight becomes altogether mesmerising as the time for sunset approaches. That is the ideal time to obtain some good shots with the camera as the sun dips down fairly quickly and we got a range of captures and silhouette pictures. Trying the jump-in-the-air shots against the setting sun turned out to be memories for a lifetime! If time permits and enough light is there, a quick hike up to the nearby mountain can be managed in before leaving the place and heading back home. It is also an opportunity to get some spectacular aerial views of the entire area.

What to carry
It is ideal to carry drinking water, good hiking boots to explore the nearby area, swimwear to take a dip, snacks to cover up the exhausted calories after lazing around in the water and for the way back, sunscreen and sunglasses — be careful not to drop it in the water though, good camera for the shutterbugs as the place provides occasions for some highly creative shots in, around and above the water.

Things to take care
Although there are mixed opinions on its therapeutic effects for skin diseases and detoxification, it is definitely not safe to consume the water and accidental ingestion must be immediately attended to.
While climbing down to the water body, there are chances of inadvertent slipping as the adjacent mud is loose and stones or other gritty material may slide off easily. Inside the main spring, the big stones and rocky surfaces have smoothened out and are covered with a thick layer of Sulphur, making the surface clayey. This requires that the visitors be extra cautious, especially if carrying small children into it. Since the adjacent place is inhabited by the locals, respecting their customs, and dressing conservatively must be taken care of while traversing the nearby village.
An ideal attraction for spending 3-4 hours at the location with families and groups. An absolute delight for outdoor and photography lovers. A must for a thorough relaxation experience!

Dr Priti Swarup