Stunning views, greenery, water and some remarkable rock formations. Shaquel al Balushi finds that Wadi Qurai has it all and more on his first visit
As we all know, Oman is a rocky country with some fantastic scenery, but Wadi Qurai really took my breath away when I went there for the first time recently. There is something different about this place and I have never experienced anywhere quite like it.
On the advice of a colleague who had once visited the wadi with her friends, I travelled along the road towards Nizwa from Muscat, taking the clearly signposted turn on the stretch after Samail, but before Izki. I parked my car in a small space next to a mosque, just where the falaj starts, took my camera bag and headed off on my journey.
The wadi is set between two imposing but beautiful mountains and the snaking falaj acts as your guide as you trek up towards the source of the water. The path goes up, down and from side to side – almost like a rollercoaster – and I followed the falaj for an hour or so before arriving at a huge pool of crystal-clear water.
One of the first photos I captured on my trek is arguably one of my favourites. It was largely a cloudy day, although there was a small amount of blue sky shining through, which combined with the grey of the rocks and the greenery of the vegetation to really encapsulate the variety of colours that Wadi Qurai offers in a single shot.
Even the rocks in this area are amazing just to look at and appreciate. The water in the wadi has shaped the rocks into some fascinating formations over countless years and in places, they almost look as if they’ve been sculpted by an architect.
At the pool, I came across a large group of young Omanis, around 15 in total, who greeted me in the traditional way and invited me to join them for the simple lunch they were preparing. It would’ve been rude for me to refuse and so I sat with them and shared their dates and halwa. In actual fact, this came as a refreshing break after the exertion of the trek and I spent around an hour chatting to these incredibly friendly people.
According to one of the guys, there are 19 sources of water in these hills and mountains and I’m very keen to return the Wadi Qurai on a bit of an expedition to find the other 18.
After thanking my new friends and saying goodbye, I continued on my journey slightly further before deciding to call it a day and head back to my car.
Having captured plenty of beautiful images of the stunning scenery on the trek up to the pool, I decided to have some fun on the return leg.
I have a keen interest in parkour that goes back to my childhood when my friends and I used to run freely through the mountains close to our homes in Al Amerat. So I carefully packed all my equipment away, tightened the straps on my bag and ran.
Jumping over rocks and vaulting streams, I felt like I was in a scene from an Indiana Jones movie; the only thing I was missing was the hat and a whip. Naturally, it took me a lot less time on the journey back to my car – around 15 minutes in total – which led me to think that at a normal walking pace the trip could be completed in around half an hour (it took me longer on the way to the pool because I was stopping to shoot as I went).
I have a huge interest in fashion-based photography and I am 100 per cent certain that I will direct one of my shoots at Wadi Qurai very soon, the setting was that spectacular.
I would strongly recommend everyone to visit this particular wadi, as it provides an amazing change from the city. Last weekend was the first time I’d been there, but I know for a fact that it won’t be the last.
How to get there:
Getting to Wadi Qurai is incredibly simple. From Muscat, simply take road 15 towards Nizwa and remain on this road for 76km before exiting to the right. The journey should take a little over one hour in good traffic.
GPS location of turning:
N23˚ 09’ 52” E57˚ 51’ 14”