Just a short distance from Nizwa is a Falaj system big enough to swim in, finds Shaquel al Balushi.
Although I’ve lived in Oman many years and have travelled extensively throughout the Sultanate, there are still lots of hidden places that I’ve never heard of.
This week’s Destination is one of those.
Like many of you reading this, I’ve been to Nizwa countless times, yet I never knew that a stunning falaj system known locally as a perfect getaway spot was nearby.
My friend, dubbed the “Head Man” in our gang for being a leader of sorts, was the one who had told me about this “secret” location. We assembled a group – “Head Man”, myself, the “New Guy” and “Thumbs Up” (so called because that’s what he does in every photo) – and set off from our homes in Amerat very early one Thursday morning.
The drive is not complicated. Simply go to Nizwa and the souk but don’t stop here, and instead carry on with the souk on your left, and you’ll be heading towards the Daris area. It’s quite an old part of the Nizwa environs, which you’ll notice from some of the houses.
You’ll come across a sign (you can’t miss it), which points you right towards the Daris Falaj and takes you through a gate into a park area.
It’s actually been beautifully done, with the falaj integrated as part of the park and easily accessible. Another plus is that there’s a lot of parking for cars.
You can wander over to the falaj, which is a short walk away. It’s a huge irrigation system, wide and deep, and well-constructed with bricks and stonework. As the falaj is not used as a supply of drinking water to the surrounding area, it’s acceptable to swim in it.
It was quite busy with lots of locals, mostly youngsters; either lounging on the bank or taking a dip in the water. Glancing down, it did look very cool and inviting, particularly after being stuck in a car for a couple of hours.
We sat down to enjoy the peace, which was broken only by the joyful cries of the children jumping and splashing around in the water as older locals in white dishdashas conversed under the shade of overhanging trees.
The temperature was hotting up and we were very tempted to take a refreshing dip. However, for some reason we all felt a little shy about intruding and decided to be spectators only on this occasion, and just soak up the beauty of the place.
Wandering around, I snapped some close-up details of the leaves and flower buds with hints of pink pushing to burst forth.
I got my favourite shot of the day standing by the bank, of a young boy swimming past me below, floating just under the surface, his legs kicking out like that of a frog.
Whether swimming or simply relaxing, the Daris Falaj seems to be a little haven for locals to escape the dust and noise of Nizwa or Bahla for a day or even just a few hours. I’m also told that it’s quite a popular spot for young men trying to woo their future wives. I would imagine that it is romantic at night, with the moon shining on the water of the falaj and the trees moving gently in the evening breeze.
There is also a children’s park, although it looked a little dilapidated while a wadi is on the other side of the falaj.
You don’t need or want to explore much when you’re here; the calming nature of the place works its magic on you, leaving you feeling like doing nothing more exerting than ambling along the falaj or simply chilling on the bank.
My recommendation is to combine the Daris Falaj with a trip to Nizwa. It’s only 15 minutes’ drive away from Nizwa Fort. Do your fort visit in the morning before it gets too hot and then head to the falaj for a wonderful time cooling off. Take a picnic or return to Nizwa for lunch before making tracks to the souk, which opens for business after 4pm.
I’ll certainly be visiting again soon – and next time I might even be brave enough to take a dip in the falaj.
How to get there:
From Muscat, take the main Route 15 to Nizwa. Head to the souk and Nizwa Fort area and continue straight on. After around 15 minutes, you will see a signpost on the right to Daris Falaj. Take this turn and continue straight. You can’t miss the entrance to the park.