3 April 2013. It was the sixth day of us exploring Oman and that day was the time to say a goodbye to Oman as we were heading to Dubai. Consider it as a treat
We however liked to close the chapter with a trip to one of the most spectacular and favorites wadi in Oman: Wadi Bani Awf
Wadi Bani Awf
Wadi Bani Awf is located at the Batinah plain on the north face of Hajar Mountain and up to the spine of the mountain – a climb of over 2,000meters. Here, we’ll see a few remarkable villages along the way, twisting canyons, one of the most prettiest village and unparalleled view over the mountain as well as experience a frontier-feel offroad driving.
The route from Muscat started with following either Muscat Expressway or Sultan Qaboos Street and continuing to Muscat – Sohar road (Road 1). After about 42km from Seeb International Airport, turn left to Road 13 to Nakhl. Note: at the time of our visit, Road was undergoing redevelopment, making a left turn was not possible. Instead, we continued driving about few hundred meters before making a U-turn. Seemed like the roundabout will be demolished?). A turnoff to Wadi Bani Awf is actually located at about 4-5km from Al Awabi or overall 120km from Seeb International Airport.
We made a quick stop at Nakhl Fort before continuing to the wadi. There is a hot spring here in Nakhl if you have time to visit.
From the wadi turnoff, there is currently a good paved road 7km inward. After the pavemend ends, an offroad section starts and will only end at Sharaf Al Alamayn view point. The view point, that borders Al Batinah region and Ad Dakhiliyah region of Oman, offers commanding view over the mountain as well as to Balad Sayt village and Hat village. Having said that, a plan to upgrade the whole section of this mountain traverse is in progress. This way one from Sohar doesn’t need to go via Muscat to go to Nizwa. During our visit, some sections of the graded roads before and in At Tikhah village were being upgraded to paved road. We have been forced to wait for a good 30minutes as a blasting work was carried out.
Due to limited time, we didn’t venture deep into the wadi. We managed however to visit Little Snake Canyon. The canyon, derived the name from its twisting canyon, offers a good walk on the gorge, between boulders and finally clear and refreshing water pools.
To go to Dubai via Hatta, we took a road back to Road 13 and continued driving Rustaq (hence completing Nakhl – Rustaq loop) to go back to Road 1 Muscat – Sohar Highway. From Sohar, Oman border crossing in Hatta is 87km away. Rustaq, anyway, offers similar interests as Nakhl with its fort and hot springs.
Note: Road 13 from turnoff Road 1 via Nakhl up to Rustaq is a single carriage way. From Rustaq to Road 1 is dual carriageway.
Check Explorer’s Oman Off-road book for details of routes and other point of interests.
Nakhl Fort: N 23°23’42.0″ E057°49’43.0″.
Nakhl Hot Spring Car Park: N 23°22’36″ E057°49’38.0″
Turnoff to Wadi Bani Awf: N 23°20’31.0″ E057°29’35.0″
Little Snake Canyon Entrance (car park): N 23°14’25.0″ E057°26’14.0″
A barrage of signs Wadi Bani Awf (see picture above): N 23°15’28.0″ E057°26’27.0″
Sharaf Al Alamayn view point: N 23°10’01.7″ E057°24’54.7″
Hatta and Hatta Pools
I purposely planned to go via Hatta from Muscat to Dubai with an idea to visit Hatta Rock Pools although I am fully aware that visa fee here is more expensive than in Al Ain (185AED compared to 135AED). Exit from Oman borders in Hatta was very easy; only one window for exit stamp. UAE (Hatta is a part of Dubai Emirate) border crossing was also straightforward. Although initially we were confused with queue owing to limited sign, we managed to get it right. We needed to go to a portacabin near Dubai Duty Free (consider it as arrival hall) first. Here we bought visa form and stickers. Then we had ourself lined up for eye scan and visa stamping, after completing the visa form. The only thing I can remember is that no vehicle customs inspection done – strange! The overall border process from exiting Oman border and finishing Dubai border process was between 40-50 minutes I guessed.
As Hatta’s UAE areas lies between Oman areas there are several checkpoints (UAE and Oman side-by-side) along the road. We only needed to show our passport. They don’t even bother to open or check our passport.
Hatta Rock Pools, our destination is actually located in Oman. So, one needs to go via a checkpoint. No need to worry as they don’t do checking. We prepared our passport but again they didn’t check.
The (graded) roads to rock pools were being upgraded at that time making driving to the destination was impossible. We turned back and headed to Dubai straight.