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Shaquel Al Balushi visits a new destination this week and ends up having a dip in the water.
I’m always excited to find new places to explore and introduce you to, so this trip was special in more ways than one.
My usual travelling companion, Imran, suggested Al Qabil, a destination he knows extremely well from his days as a tour guide (he’s now a chef). I was intrigued by his vivid descriptions of the area and was ready for an adventure by the time we left, despite the early 6am start.
Within an hour or so, we had arrived. That’s the beauty of Al Qabil; it’s only an hour-and-a-half from Muscat, so there isn’t a long drive eating into the hours of the day.
It’s a straightforward drive, too, taking Route 17 towards Sur and turning off at the Wadi Dayqah sign. On the way to the dam, there’s a road to the left with a barrier, which is always up, and this is where you want to head to.
Trundling along the dirt road, we reached the first stop point within 10 minutes, a pool of water so pure and clean that you could see the pebbles at the bottom so clearly. I took a photograph – which would end up being one of my favourites of the day – and the water is so amazingly crystal clear that you can’t see the water and it seems you are viewing rocks on dry land.
We took off our shoes and socks and paddled in the cool water, which was overlooked by a rocky outcrop. We had the place to ourselves; it was absolutely deserted and we revelled in the quiet stillness.
You don’t need a 4×4 to visit Al Qabil but you’ll have to park here and explore on foot. Our Jeep Wrangler splashed effortlessly through the shallow water but we preferred to go further under our own steam, and set off for a hike for a few hours.
It’s an easy walk; you don’t need to be especially fit to undertake it. It’s well worth a little exertion to discover all the beauty of Al Qabil. We found different pools of water with varying terrains underfoot; from rocky to sandy and muddy.
The water was different, too. In one pool, it was as calm as a mirror, in another it “bubbled” as it swirled across rocks, and a third moved like a snake, curling and swerving. It was fascinating just to sit and watch the water.
I noticed the ruins of some mud-brick buildings, long since abandoned, across the water of one pool. There was also a heron hiding in a nearby crevice, no doubt taking a break in between “fishing” in one of the pools.
Among the light brown rocky landscape, there were bursts of green with shrubs and bushes. A delicate white flower with a pale green stem also caught my eye and merited a close-up shot.
We wandered along at our own pace, stopping whenever the fancy took us, for a rest or dip in the refreshing water, which comes in a long silver trail down from the mountains.
At times, we had to wade through the water, but the deepest it ever came to was at a level just below the knee so nothing drastic to deter hardy trekkers.
In my view, Al Qabil is the perfect package for visitors. It’s great for hardcore hikers or those interested in a gentler stroll, and is suitable for friends or a family wanting a getaway picnic for the day with a swim. The first pool has shallow areas, where kids can splash around and collect pebbles quite safely within mum and dad’s sight.
My only advice is to arrive early and make the most of a whole day there. Have fun!
From Muscat, take Route 17 towards Sur and then the Wadi Dayqah turn-off, which is signposted. Continue towards the dam and you’ll see a road to the left with a barrier (which should be up). Take this road for 10 minutes and you’ll reach the first pool – the crystal-clear one. You don’t need a 4×4, but to go farther, you’ll need one or travel by foot.
GPS location of Al Qabil: N23°08’01.6”, E58°53’43.4”