Destination: Tanuf

02 Jun 2016
POSTED BY Alvin Thomas

With ruins, pools and trekking trails, Tanuf is the complete package, finds Shaquel al Balushi. 

If you’re a regular reader then you’ll have followed my last two adventures to Moquzeh and Daris Falaj. This week’s Destination is the third part of the series, which all took place over one intrepid and packed day.

Tanuf was actually the second place on our list, after Moquzeh, and we arrived around 8am. By then, our group – “Head Man”, “New Guy” and “Thumbs Up” – was ravenous and in need of some sustenance before embarking on our explorations.

Round and round we drove but every shop was closed; the shutters firmly locked up. Our stomachs were rumbling in protest and it looked like our luck was out when we suddenly stumbled on the only shop in the village that appeared to be open. What a relief. It was like finding gold! We feasted on biscuits, crisps, chocolate and drinks until our hunger was finally sated and we felt human again.


We were ready to start on the next leg of the journey. Driving into Tanuf you can’t miss the ruins almost straight ahead: a sprawl of dilapidated mud brick houses; in various stages of falling down, long since abandoned and left to crumble away. The roofs and windows had gone, leaving the interiors open to the elements and the baking Omani sun. You can also see the remains of a much taller structure than the rest, a tower of some kind, slowly eroding away.

We wandered around for some time, walking where the area would once have bustled with noise and life but is now reduced to a “ghost village” of sorts although the atmosphere is calm and peaceful. I captured some nice shots of the buildings.

If you stand directly in front of the ruins, the factory where Tanuf water is bottled at source can be found. We were in the mood for more outdoor pursuits

Fuelled by the food in our bellies and bursting with energy, we wandered into the wadi on the other side of the ruins. You’ll see a falaj running along up on your left and then the water.


I was surprised by how verdant it was, bursting with green trees and shrubs. While my friends did their own thing, I got some interesting close-ups of the abundant flora. My favourite photo of the day was a delicate pale yellow and white flower, the centre protected from greedy bees and other insects by large protruding thorns.

I also caught an intricate spider’s web, woven between two plants, glistening in the sunlight, before clambering up some rocks to capture a view with a different angle.

We splashed through the shallow water, which looked so pure and refreshing, and enjoyed just the feeling of being present and at one with nature.


In my view, it’s best to come to Tanuf early in the morning to catch the sunlight reflecting off the rocks and water.

Farther down the wadi, the water deepens and you can swim in the pools, washing away the dust and cooling the heat on your skin after the walk to get there.

We spent three hours or so there but you could easily make it a day trip here. It would be a great place for anyone new to the country to get a taste of Oman. I call it the “complete package” because I think it gives a glimpse into the many facets of Oman; from the heritage of the ruins to the wild landscape of rocks, the wadi pools and the indigenous plants. You can swim, trek, enjoy the ruins, exercise and have a picnic or simply chill under the shade of a handy tree.

The walk is gentle and not too taxing, suiting all ages.

I’m not sure it’s the best place for young kids, however, as it could be too tiring.

Whatever you choose to do at Tanuf, you’ll leave feeling relaxed and fulfilled. My only tip is: bring your own food in case you’re not as lucky as us and can’t find a shop open!


From Muscat, take the main Route 15. Pass Nizwa, and Tanuf will be signposted. Follow the signs and you’ll see the ruins as you reach the area. You can park up by the ruins and explore before heading to the wadi on foot or by car.

GPS location of the dirt track:

N23° 01’ 31.8” E57° 52’02.5”




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