(With Titash Chakraborty)
Deep into the heart of Jebel Akhdhar, farther beyond the known roads, is a spring called Ain al Hadhari. It’s a spring one would not have noticed if not for the small, mossy waterfall where most of its waters flow, collected into an inviting pool which eventually feeds the wide expanse of the wadi where it is a part of — Wadi Saada. It’s a destination Croatian hiking enthusiast Jasmina called truly unique, one that she hasn’t ‘experienced before.’ And from someone who had gone to two dozens or more countries in her lifetime so far seeking the best hiking spots where she can find them, she meant it as a compliment.
Jasmina and Yengeniya are two brave ladies who took on the challenge of Oman Outdoor Adventure group led by Ahmed al Jaabri to scale the heights of Jebel Akhdhar and explore an area not many even dare venture to.
Yevgeniya, who is based in Dubai, have gone all this way to Oman, got in touch with Ahmed’s group, just to experience an adventure which she can’t find in one of the world’s fastest-growing cities.
She’s known of Oman and has been curious about the different fascinating outdoor adventures one can do in the country.
Hoping to create a memorable itinerary, Ahmed’s team thought of this place. What they didn’t anticipate is that other than not having clear paths, it will be a trip full of difficult challenges, one that they are truly happy to have conquered.
The team would trek a total of nine hours covering 17 kilometres of an area that has not seen many foot traffic in years. Where they’d been, only mountain goats have the dominance. But it is a place worthy of a visit — a wide expanse of nature with the most interesting of rock and land formation broken every once in a while by canyons and deep holes on the ground.
Here, the mountains are of different shades of brown and pastels and where Ain al Hadhari is, the intense green of the river and pools make up for a fascinating view. Surprisingly, there are some old houses located on some of the area’s hills — quite hard to comprehend how living was even possible at such a challenging location.
As Ahmed would share, “It was a trip, undoubtedly, worthy to be taken as it took them to one of Oman’s best-kept secrets.”
“Overall, we had a wonderful time exploring Wadi Saada. We had a great time and I recommend visitors to this place. The place is lovely but it is very difficult to take a family especially children as you can’t carry many things with you. It’s a place for people who are adventurous. The pictures we shot will describe its truly mesmerising beauty,” he said.
Before the ice and the cold breeze fully took over Jebel Akhdhar, Oman Adventure Camp already scheduled a trek on a Thursday in the early week of December.
They camp the night before in Yitti, arriving at their meet-up point at 9 pm. Although they need to depart at 4 am the following day, they slept late as dinner was also served late.
They started to drive heading to Jebel Akhdhar at 4:30 in the morning, the sun still nowhere to be seen. By 6:30, they were in a small village called Salot.
“We left our cars there. From Salot, we have to get down to a valley about 20 minutes below. The pathways were challenging and slippery and one can easily fall at any time. Even the rocks were made slippery by moss and collected grunge,” Ahmed shared.
The great Wadi Saada is on its own, a sight to behold. Formed by the harshness and grace of nature, the giant rocks and mountain walls took shapes unique in this part of the country with the wadi’s features incomparable to other parts of the country.
“The beginning of our trek was easy but as we get farther, they started to get hard. Some part we where crossing was at the edge of the mountain and like goats, we have to navigate the edge of the mountain which is really very risky,” Ahmed narrated.
This ordeal will be followed by a two-hour trek on a steep uphill path which to the group felt like it would never end.
“The hike felt like it was a walk in the jungle, you never know what’s ahead of your journey. I found comfort in the words of my friend Mohammed who reminded us of why we were there — that we go through valleys to lose our minds and find our individual souls,” he added.
After three hours of hiking, they spotted the Ain al Hadhari spring which gave them renewed hope and strength.
Ain al Hadhari is unlike any other in Oman as it is truly far from civilisation that can interrupt its natural cycle. Amongst the giant boulders that makeup Wadi Saada, the fresh water it produces cause plants to thrive.
“It was a beautiful sight in the middle of nowhere. We started to take pictures. Rest a little bit and drank coffee while some of us took a dip,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed also noted that a few kilometres from the spring, they spotted old houses perched on mountainsides which added vibrancy to the area.
The team would walk four hours more before they reached a large pool — a very good place with enormous space for swimming. With no place to walk on, the only way to cross to the other side is by getting into the water. But one of their companions had an ingenious way of conquering the challenge. Climbing first on the rough side of a giant boulder, they pulled everyone by hand.
By 5:30 pm with barely any sunlight left and still kilometres to traverse to get to Bait al Mouz, the group had a moment of worry. By 6 pm, the whole place has already grown dark and to get to their final destination, they have to rely on their phone lights to show them the way.
Finding their way in the dark, they eventually located the long stretch of falaj that ends up in Bait al Mouz. They followed it for another four kilometres until they reached where they were headed.
“We had a great time and I would definitely recommend it to adventurers at heart. The paths we took seldom see people which added thrill to the adventure. But anyone who heads that way and do what we did must observe all necessary caution. If you need more details about our trip to Wadi Saada, we can be contacted through our Instagram @oman_outdoor_adventure,” Ahmed said.