Ahmed Qatan had always wanted to know what’s hidden within the 17 km stretch of Wadi Darbat. He has been to several of the key areas of Salalah. But his mind always wondered if there was something more to what he has already seen.
When he decided to form the group of nine who would become part of his hiking team, he knew early on that the journey will be a challenging one. But he also knew that within the lush foliage of the long wadi would be something worth seeing.
On August of this year, Ahmed’s team comprised of Ahmed al Hilal, who served as the front leader, Abdulaziz al Marhoon, Ayman al Balushi, Adil al Balushi, Yasser al Shaikh, Abdulhakim al Suairi, who served as the back leader, and two others embarked on a journey they now claim explorers at heart should definitely try when they can.
“Embarking on a trekking expedition like this requires preparation. You also have to do several assessments, identify the risks and tools needed as well as scout the area beforehand,” Qatan said.
“Darbat track was one of the difficult ones I’ve been through because the track posed many different challenges. There were huge boulders the team had to manoeuvre around, steep descents to be careful about and snakes and predators to be wary of,” he added.
Highly motivated, the group started from Wadi Rakah with its rocky, very steep but amazing descents. They passed through the charming village of Nagb of which surrounding it is the famous caves, beautiful landscapes and lush and magical scenery.
The first few hours of hike brought them to mesmerising waterfalls and when they got to an area called Adhgareen, they were all praise for the pools of which the water is collected.
“We all started in good spirit. The reward of beautiful scenery along the track which we captured on pictures and videos make us want to look at it over and over again,” shared hike-member Abdulaziz al Marhoon.
Because the area is seldom explored, there were no proper paths to go by. Ahmed relied on Google map to find their way. Combined with the help of the locals in some of the villages they passed through, they managed to create the best tracks.
Ahmed has noted that the previous years’ storm Mekunu had dramatically changed the landscape making it difficult to follow existing “shepherds and camels” tracks.
“When you go as a team, other than the preparations made, agreeing on tracks to take and which scenery to pass and everyone being agreeable to alternative plans can help make the journey a little bit easier,” Qatan said.
From Nagb village, the team continued their trek until they reached Wadi Ghaith. The team had to pass through mountainous areas, high cliffs and fight through thick vegetation to reach an area called Aan. Aan today is a part of Wadi Darbat that is made remarkable by the many pools and flowing streams and has been developed for easy access to tourists.
Qatan said that their exploration was successful because they paid close attention to different hiking protocols. Aside from appointing front and back leaders, they also had a pre-hike orientation and reminded the team members to be within eye-sight of other members and always follow instructions from the leaders.
As the team shared, one of the first challenges to overcome was the cliff about 200m deep.
“The leader has to scout for an old track between the trees that helped us out. It was like going into unknown territory, but with care and persistence, we managed to get safely to the other side of the cliff,” Qatan said.
Covering the 17 km stretch ran for almost 10 to 12 hours.
“At nightfall, we were still in the wadi which brought concerns and a bit of worry to the team. However, we knew that we were very close to the endpoint and we kept going. The track became tough, and we didn’t know if we were still on the right track, but we just kept walking,” reported one of the members.
Front leader Ahmed al Hilal said that having been on different treks before, he found the Wadi Darbat hike very exciting.
Both Ayman and Adil al Balushi agreed that it was one of the most difficult hikes they’ve joined with. They were intimated by the huge boulders and high cliffs they have to pass through, but while it was challenging, they learned a lot on the process.
Qatan was happy to have completed such an incredible adventure. For him, it was one of the best tracks that combined beauty, challenges and fun.
‘Darbat is one of the most beautiful wadis of Oman. To cross it, one needs patience and an open, exploratory mindset. The scenery were amazing so they will help keep the team spirit up,” shared team member Yasser al Shaikh.
Back leader Abdulhakim al Suairi looks forward to their next adventure. For those following in their footsteps, he reminded everyone that other than the challenging paths and slippery roads, trekkers should also look out for aggressive mosquitoes and wild animals.
“Completing the hike makes up for great memories,” he said.