In search of some downtime after a busy week, Shaquel al Balushi found himself in hot water at a popular getaway spot near Nakhal
After a long week of assignments for Y, followed by a drive from Muscat and then bumping along a dusty road to reach our final destination, I was in need of some serious relaxation.
As I eased my aching muscles into the hot water, all the tiredness and weight of work lifted from my shoulders and I felt a lightness of mind and body. It’s amazing what a dip in a hot spring can do for you. Luckily, Oman is blessed with quite a few natural springs and one of the most popular is Al Thawara, not far from Nakhal Fort.
As regular readers will know, I visited the fort a few weeks ago for Y and you could easily combine a trip to this historical building with the springs, although I went on separate days.
My cousin had told me about the place, spinning an enticing tale about tall palm trees and hot pools, where someone in need of a break might well find a bit of tranquility.
Heading on the now familiar route to Nakhal Fort, we carried on for another two kilometres until we saw a signpost for the springs. The road is narrow and winds in a zig-zag flanked by towering palm trees – “Nakhal” is the Arabic name for palm – so that you have to beep your car horn when going road corners to alert other drivers and avoid a collision.
It was a humid day and even with the air con, we could feel the stickiness of the outside seeping in, and I was looking forward to a dip in the water.
After parking, it was a short walk to the springs. According to some locals, the water at Al Thawara has therapeutic benefits and maintains a temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius.
It’s very well set up for tourists with shade and a man-made plunge pool, married to the rock to look like an extension of the natural world. I grabbed my camera and took some general views. A few people were eating lunch under the shaded canopy of trees where the spring slithers like a clear snake along the wadi bed.
The main action, however, seemed to be happening at the pool area. Some of the younger visitors were jumping in and out, somersaulting into the quite shallow water to show off their athletic prowess. I grabbed a few images and was then taken by the sight of a young man sitting on a ledge above the pool watching everyone having fun. I took some photos and called him “The Observer”. Dressed in a dishdash and sandals, he seemed somehow removed from everything that was going on around him.
I took a wander along the wadi and captured scenes of life around; some playful goats scampering around nearby; trees heavy with leaves and whitewashed traditional homes with brown rocks looming over them. Even if you don’t want to go into the pool, it’s a nice place to chill for a few hours and unwind.
Back at the pool, I noticed a man had crammed into a small space where time and the water had eroded away the rock. It looked too claustrophobic for me, but he looked perfectly happy, with the hot water cascading down on top of him.
I walked along by the falaj system, which runs nearby, and managed to get a close up of a dragon fly, before it took to flight and headed off towards the springs.
By now it was late Thursday afternoon and more people were arriving to take a dip after a week at work. I took this as my cue to jump into the pool before it got too busy. It was a little too hot for my liking – I think it would be better in the cooler winter months – but I still enjoyed the feeling of the warm water easing away the stress of the week.
I’ll definitely be back but next time, not on a work assignment, just for fun.
How to get there:
Take the highway towards Barka and come off at the exit for road 13. After 30km there will be an exit for Nakhal Fort on the left. Take the exit but continue past the fort for 2.3km until you see signs for the springs.
GPS location of the Al Thawara Springs: N23˚ 22’ 41” E57˚ 49’ 39”