The wadi that lies within easy access to the capital city is a dream place where you could be one with nature and enjoy a perfect dawn. Shaquel al Balushi sets out to rediscover the hidden gem.
Nature transcends everything else; that is something I truly believe in. If not, my job of going across to the ends of the Sultanate and coming back to narrate a story about it wouldn’t be so much fun – no jokes!
This week’s Destination is a prime example of what I just said: it’s an area I consider to be one of the hidden gems of Oman. No, it’s not Salalah (although it is touted as the “hidden gem of Oman”) but is someplace more indigenous; a setting that is accessible by anyone living within the capital of the city. It goes by the name Wadi Lahloo.
While its name might come across as a tad amusing, there’s more to Lahloo than just its name. It’s an area that I frequent, especially when I feel like I need some alone time. It’s secluded, quiet and sheltered from all the elements – literally.
I started my journey before the break of dawn – around 4am to be precise. I figured it would be best to head out before heavy traffic would kick in and ruin my day.
To reach the wadi, you must first take the road to Quriyat and turn off at the Al Saleel signpost to Yiti. After a few metres, you will come across a board that points towards Wadi Lahloo. However, you must be careful not to miss the signboard, else you will end up riding into one of the nearby villages.
By the time I reached my location, the purple hues of the morning sky hard already started seeping in through the clouds. We photographers call it the ‘blue hour’, which is a period of twilight just before sunrise.
Upon arriving at my destination, I quickly shifted my gear into the four-wheel-drive mode and carried onwards to the top the mountain. It’s an extra half-an-hour drive but is worth it if you want to see the landscape and the horizon.
It also gave me time to explore the capabilities of my SUV although I have been doing that a lot of late. The pathway is winding and it is best to have a professional off-road driver take control of the wheel. Keep in mind that off-roading is a skilled task and any rescue effort would take several minutes, if not a few hours.
Taking extra care to travel across the right path, I carried onwards.
This is when you get to experience Wadi Lahloo to its fullest. It’s a deserted site and there are not many houses in the vicinity. I could only count 13 houses in total – although the superstitious head of mine was trying to find another house just to get the number up to 14.
Nevertheless, most homes today are abandoned and disheveled as they are situated at the foothills of the rocky mountains.
Still, the view was nothing short of breathtaking.
Looking at the horizon, I saw the mountains sketch itself into the beautiful setting – like what an artist would paint on his canvas. The rocks are of a faded ochre colour with a glaring sheen, which could be because they were dispersed in water and dried over time.
If that wasn’t enough, I also came across several camels, donkeys and other wildlife within the wadi. It’s teeming with life, and one will not feel alone.
While that is true, Wadi Lahloo is also a place where you can come to find tranquillity and peace. The last time I was there, I mentioned that the setting was “solemn”, and I completely stand by what I said.
Wadi Lahloo is definitely the destination to go to kick back, relax and experience a degree of serenity. Ah, I wish I could live there.
It’s about a 40-minute drive to Yiti from Muscat. From Sultan Qaboos Highway, take Al Bustan Road and then exit at the turn-off to Qantab. Follow the signs to Yiti.