Wadi Tanuf

Two weeks ago, I met Mr. Hilal for the second time when he came to the college to discuss his son’s progress. He immediately recognized me. It took me a couple of seconds to recall our first encounter which was over two years ago when he gave me a lift from Lulu Hypermarket to the Ibri taxi stand in Nizwa Souq. Anyhow, we started chatting as if we were long-lost friends. We exchanged numbers and he promised to invite me to his village to meet his wife and children.

After the last rain in Nizwa and surrounding areas Mr. Hilal invited me to his home for dinner and then a tour of his neighborhood and a visit to Wadi Tanuf. For the first stop, we visited the Falaj Daris, one of five aflaj (canals) irrigation systems in Oman designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is the largest falaj in the country and supplies water to the city of Nizwa and the smaller communities nearby.

After this we headed to Tanuf Wadi, passing by the ruins of Old Tanuf, which I would like to visit on another occasion.  About fifteen minutes later we arrived at Tanuf Dam which was full of water from the recent rains.

Fence and gate protecting Tanuf Dam.

Fence and gate protecting Tanuf Dam.

Tanuf Dam filled with water.

Tanuf Dam filled with water.

TW1This dam collects rain water to recharge wells, aquifers, and the Tanuf water bottling plant. I assume that the muddy water goes through some type of filtering system before it is distributed across the country for drinking. After stopping for some photos of the dam we forged on ahead through the water deeper into the wadi.

On entering the wadi, we met some traffic.

On entering the wadi, we met some traffic.

Eventually, we made our way through to some dryer land and continued along a road next to the wadi. We stopped for some photos of the wadi that now looked like a river making its way through the mountains.

I am glad we didn't have to drive through this part of the wadi.

I am glad we didn’t have to drive through this part of the wadi.

A few more kilometers and the road was flooded  and we were forced to ford the wadi again. 

Luckily, we didn’t get stuck like this guy.

Some families decided to park their vehicles and make their way across the wadi on foot.

Some families decided to park their vehicles and make their way across the wadi on foot.

Others parked their vehicles and prepared for a picnic.

Others parked their vehicles and prepared for a picnic.

We continued down the wadi until we came to some waterfalls. Well, this is how my friends described the water sprouting from the wadi walls.

Some mini waterfalls.

Some mini waterfalls.

Finally, we came to an area with a lot of people wading and enjoying the water. By now, I was feeling tired and thankful that my friends didn’t want to go wadi-wading.  Instead, we turned and headed back to Nizwa.

 

Jarnan Cave

My latest outing was a trip to Izki, about twenty minutes from Nizwa, for a short visit to Jarnan Cave.

Jarnan Cave

Jarnan Cave

This cave lies at the foot of Wadi Halfayn, below Nazar village in Izki. According to the inscription on a large rock near the entrance to the cave, it is distinguished from all other caves in Oman by a famous legend dating from the pre-Islamic era.

Rock located at the entrance to Jarnan Cave.

Rock located at the entrance to Jarnan Cave.

It is said that when Islam came into existence a golden calf was hidden deep inside the cave so that no one could reach it.

I wonder if the "Golden Calf" is still here.

I wonder if the “Golden Calf” is still here.

View looking out from inside the cave.

View looking out from inside the cave.

The cave itself is not very big or noteworthy. However, the ruins above the cave are more interesting and worth a visit if you have some extra time and you are in the area.

Stairs near the cave leading up to the village above.

Stairs near the cave leading up to the village above.

 

Where are the Persian Steps?

A couple of days ago my friends and I  left Nizwa, ready and eager to climb the Persian Steps to the top of Jebel Akhdar. We headed to Izki, eventually making our way to Qaroot Al Janubiyah, a small town at the foot of Jebel Akhdar. According to my directions, gathered from a couple of websites and several colleagues, we should drive through this town into a wadi, look for a small, one-room hut and park our vehicle and go on foot from here into the gorge that was straight ahead. This is exactly what we did.

Our plan was to locate the Persian Steps and climb up to Jebel Akhbar to see the same spectacular views experienced by the ancient Persians who built the steps many centuries ago. The gorge was quiet and peaceful as we hiked over massive boulders and encountered some curious goats. We continued for about twenty minutes but we couldn’t locate any steps.

We stopped for a short water break and debated whether or not to continue looking for the steps or to forget about them. I wanted to keep searching; Achmed and Rachel wanted to hike farther into the gorge. Sefa complained constantly about the heat and wanted to go back home. In the end, I sided with Achmed and Rachel because if we couldn’t climb the steps I at least wanted to get some exercise. So, we spent the next three hours hiking though a gorge with no final destination in mind.

Although we did not stumble across the Persian Steps we had a fun day of hiking and we got plenty of exercise.