Ain Al Kasfa is the second hot spring I have explored this year, but the two could not have been more different. I visited Al Thawara springs, close to Nakhal, back in May [Issue 371] and while there was a purpose-built pool that kids could swim in, Ain Al Kasfa is quite literally right in the middle of the bustling centre of Rustaq.
The spring is incredibly well known throughout Oman and I actually thought I was heading there when I accidentally arrived at Al Thawara a few months ago.
I had no such problems this time around and once we arrived in Rustaq, the spring was easily visible directly in front of a mosque. The large, round pool is surrounded on all sides by a wall and fence and apart from this, looks as if it has remained largely unchanged as the town grew around it. There are roads to either side of the spring and it has become something of an improvised roundabout by the looks of it.
Taking the steps down, I was able to get a closer look at the pool, although there is a sign that asks visitors not to enter the water. One thing I noticed straight away was the clarity of the water and the different colours it took on. Close to the edge the water was very yellow, but moving into the centre of the pool it became turquoise and got increasingly darker as I peered down into the inky depths.
From my position, I could feel the heat coming off the surface and was able to get whiffs of the faint smell of sulphur in the air, but not so much that it was overpowering. Apparently, the water contains high levels of sulphur, which is said to be therapeutic for those with skin and bone conditions.
A falaj runs off from the spring and a few metres away, a row of private cubicles have been built where anyone can bathe or dip their feet in the soothing waters.
Although I had left my swimming gear behind, I could tell that the temperature of the water had cooled slightly by the time it got to the cubicles and imagine it would’ve been a pleasant pick-me-up for tired feet. We followed the falaj as it wound its way through town and ended up at a date plantation, where the water was used to irrigate the crops that towered above us.
On our way back up to the spring, I stopped to take a few shots of the falaj system, holding my camera very low to the water to get some close up angles, as well as a few from higher up.
It was early in the afternoon and while there were crowds of people out on the streets, they were all locals going about their daily business and we pretty much had the spring to ourselves by the time we returned.
Although Ain Al Kasfa alone may not entirely warrant the hour-and-a-half journey from Muscat, you could easily make a day of it and combine it with a visit to Rustaq Fort, one of the nearby wadis or even a trip to Jebel Shams.
It makes a great spot for a picnic now that the temperatures are slowly dipping and we were able to grab a quick bite for a late lunch before we headed home.
From Muscat, take Route 1 until Muladdah, where you take a left onto Route 11. Stay on this road all the way to Rustaq. Turn right at Indian School Rustaq and follow the road until you reach the spring.
GPS Location of Ain Al Kasfa: N23° 23’ 35.587” E57° 24’ 41.278”