Nakhl is barely a two hours drive away from Muscat. The completion of the Barka-Nakhl Dual Road project, a 14km stretch of road completed in 2018, has made the travel now both convenient and picturesque. The town of Nakhl is its very own paradise filled with lush date plantations and bordered by tall mountains in the north. Of the top things to do here, visiting the Nakhl Fort, the most prominent structure in the village, seemed to be the main thing that draws people from all over Oman towards its village gates.
But there’s more to Nakhl than the preserved mementoes housed inside Nakhl Fort. Without a doubt, looking at the fort is both mesmerising and awe-inspiring as it speaks of the genius of the villagers in ancient times. How they balanced the fort on top of a rock (or perhaps, the aptest description is a hill) boggles everyone’s mind.
On weekends especially during the winter, hordes of tourists and residents drive here not only to enjoy the colder clime but also because of the easy accessibility of nature and different activities.
It is for this influx of visitors that the village has slowly transformed. With the Nakhl Fort currently going through a massive renovation and therefore closed for access to the public, visitors are forced to look at other activities. The following are Oman Daily Observer’s latest discoveries.
The spring is still king
Go through any travel platform about Nakhl and the next adventure after Nakhl Fort is enjoying a day at the Al Thawarah Spring. Located about 2km from the fort, Ain al Thawarah is believed by the villagers to have healing properties because of its warm water believed to be filled with minerals coming from the bowels of the earth. Families come here by the dozens setting up mats on the ground and enjoying barbecue while the kids (even the adults) frolic in the warm water. The main attraction of the spring is the square pool right where the water comes out. You can enjoy a foot spa courtesy of the fishes living in the pocket of pools in the long stretch of the wadi. If you are lucky, you will find Zanzibari families with their drums and dances entertaining many of the visitors.
An excellent place for food hunting
Perhaps it’s the massive swell of visitors that prompted many business owners to be imaginative about their offerings, but that is precisely the case now for Nakhl. The fort is surrounded by many restaurants and small food stalls and these spillovers even in the areas near the spring. By Ain al Thawarah, the rustic and homey Keytha Cafe offers delicious cakes and well-prepared coffees. Residents also have small food stalls selling burgers, mishkak on some nights and fruits and dates by the road. Surrounding the fort are Heritage Kitchen, Mori Cafe and the Halwa shops that offer tasty menus at affordable prices. As of today, lots of new buildings are rising near the area, and we spotted several more restaurants that we think deserve a stop-by on our next visit.
Great place for shopping
arts and crafts
With its tiled floor, domed roof, and painted walls, Nakhl Souq almost resembles a mall than a traditional souq but don’t let its exterior fool you. You can shop a lot of traditional arts and crafts from the souq, from display pots to house decors; there are several shops to choose from. You can even buy beautiful photos taken by the locals of Nakhl’s key and beautiful spots with all trimmings and frames included. There are also several stalls selling perfumes (luban included) as well as traditional Omani garments. A mix of old and new, there’s as plenty as 50 stalls comprising the whole souq complex.
Learn about the place’s history
If you’ve gotten tired of looking for earthenware pots and crafts item and want a little bit of history for your photos and the fort is closed, head out to Harrat Asfalah. This old mosque has served thousands of Nakhl’s residents through generations and has its very own stories to tell. You can also check out Al Ghasham Museum House — a mud-brick house restored to its former glory to preserve 300-years of history. While there’s a minimum fee to access the house cum museum, the learning and history are worth it. You will see almost a century-old falaj running through the courtyard and will be able to access some rare items only found here.
Breath in nature
Nakhl, just like many villages in Oman, is also a great place to hike where getting lost actually means discovering more. Far inside the date plantations, you’d find crumbling houses that also speak volume about the transformation taking place in this historic village. Talk to the locals. It’s not surprising to meet very young kids who are both fluent in Arabic and English and would love to offer information about things in the village. Try some of the locally grown dates. They come in different varieties. Walk as far as your feet can take you. Get on top of hills and see the sprawling town below. Nakhl is beautiful to look at both from afar and much better when up close.