For those adventurous enough to foray off the beaten track, the mountain passes of Al-Meebam hide more than breathtaking views – a hidden oasis lies in wait at the end of one path less travelled, as Shaquel al Balushi discovers.
‘Seek, and ye shall find’. Or, in this case, on a hazy weekend morning, the grime of the city still clinging to our wheels – adventure found us. We were headed about two-and-a-half hours outside of Muscat into the eastern reaches of Ash Sharqiyah, with the intention of going to Tiwi.
Ash Sharqiyah, which is split into two governorates – one north, one south – is a popular destination for daytrippers, and home to some of Oman’s lushest wadis (think Wadi Bani Khalid, for starters). Its capital is the seaside port city of Sur but today we were heading farther north towards the town of Tiwi and its late-Iron Age archaeological site.
We never made it there.
Pausing along our way to ask directions from a passing farmer, we instead found ourselves joining him, in the Arab tradition, for qahwa (Arabic coffee) and dates as he regaled us with tales of a hidden oasis about a half hour’s drive past Tiwi – of a hidden mountain waterfall where only the hardiest dared trek.
Our sense of adventure piqued, we hopped back behind the wheel and made off in the direction he’d motioned towards…only to find ourselves turned around once again about 20 minutes into the journey.
With little around us, we momentarily feared we’d lost the trail altogether…only to realise we had to follow a path where no cars go. Somehow this seemed fitting; true exploration that lies at the heart of adventure is always best experienced on-foot.
In typical Bedouin style we stumbled upon a local Omani sabla, or camping hut, where an elderly local man was pitched up for the afternoon. Inviting us in for yet more qahwa and dates (it’s rude to decline!), we told him we were in search of a mystic waterfall known to those who frequented the hills.
The elderly Omani told us he knew the place and offered to take us on-foot via a shortcut through the passes. Winding our way carefully down the mountain, through a rustic village the name of which time forgot, and crossing a falaj along the way, we soon realised after a 20-minute trek, that this ‘shortcut’ wasn’t for the faint of heart. The mountain is steep and the rocks slippery…so proper footwear is a must.
Where we emerged – at the crest of the waterfall, gazing over its lip to the roiling foam below was worth the effort of taking the path less travelled to reach there. With its crystal-clear waters, this hidden oasis is a cooling reward to the intrepid trekker willing to venture off the beaten path to forge new trails among the paths that have carved out their peregrinations through the Hajar Mountains since time immemorial.