There is a small wadi in Al Hoqain that after we have discovered has become our favorite paradise and swimming destination. We regularly head back to this place for a weekend getaway or simply enjoying an outdoor picnic with our friends and families. Just like in December of 2011, we have two batches of visitors: the first one are from Al Ain and the other are from Ibri. We have invited them to a half-a-day swimming escapade and experience the gentle mineral springs in Al Hoqain.
With only few loads of meals (such as chicken barbeques and rice) for lunch, we drive to the wadi and enjoy the pleasing 30-minute ride from Al Musannah (our homeplace). At Al Hazm roundabout we turn to the first exit and went straight until we get to another roundabout in Al Woshil. From there we get to the third exit and travel twenty kilometers down the concrete road, which cut through the bleakness and surging terrain. After sometime, the whole Al Hoquain emerge into view with crumbling ruins of Al Hoqain fort situated at the top of a hill overseeing the vastness of landscape sprawled with date plantations. Al Hoqain is an ancient town located near Al Rustaq in the northern part of Al Batinah Region.
But, we just pass along the Wadi Al Hoqain famous of its enduringly gushing stream of water that drop to a splendid 10-meter high waterfall and collect into large and sometimes deep pools at the riverbanks. This time the water is plentiful and it has become a source of irrigation through falaj or water channels to grow dates, wheat, and other crops in the village. Gradually the people have congregated and are expected to have fun and take splash into the wadi under a calm sunny day.
We continue our journey to the interior and hilly countryside of Al Hoquain and into the little town which until now I forget the name. After the steep-blind curve, we slowly descend to a small concrete road that cut through small streams of water. We park near children’s playground behind a mosque and take a walk into the inner part of the wadi.
Like the many times I have been to this place, I am often feel annoyed by the view of rubbish and food leftovers dotting along the wadi bed and collecting in between the huge boulders. I really wish that people who are camping or picnicking in this area would somehow have the initiative to dispose their remnants or at least do something to keep the area clean and unpolluted. They are horrid sight on this walkway going deep into the wadi.
There are also some part of the wadi where algae or green colored tiny plants grow and are collected specially on shallow pools and river ledges. You can even smell the stagnant water along this algaes. But be careful this area can be slippery due to the great number of algae forming.
You can get to the “small paradise” in two ways, either climbing along the cliffs along the high path or wading along the wadi bed through smoothed and often slippery rocks. But for me, I prefer to go over the long river bed. After treading gingerly and sometimes wading awkwardly, we reach to our destination.
It is indeed a spectacular hidden oasis endowed with refreshingly cool spring waters that form into a splendid pools and cascades gently into a small waterfall along granite rocks amid the marvelous hajar mountains.
The freshwater also nourished the date plantations and vegetations that verdantly occupied at one side of the wadi.
We camp out near the crystal stream behind the naturally carved and rustic mountains. The spring water is warm and the pools are deeper especially after showers (raining) in the area. But people should keep away from wadis during or after heavy rainfall because it is extremely dangerous and can cause massive flooding upstream and within the area.
Even at noontime, the cold mountain breeze keeps us soaking in the wadi. I swim along the blue water and enjoy others’ fun and excitement as they leap and jump along the cliffs and bob out of the surface. My husband also try clambering within the walls of a small cliff.
I love this place myself. For one reason, its location is very secluded make it a very private place for us. We can wear mini-shorts and fitted shirts without the fear of other tourists and particularly Omanis gazing on us. Another thing, it is one of the beautiful and natural resources of Oman that people are longing to visit and explore. Above all, it is very near to our home with just a half-hour drive, we can come here at any time we want.
We had our wonderful dinner. The smell of freshly grilled chicken barbeque is appetizing and we haven’t noticed how much spoonful of rice we have taken.
Altogether, we love the idea of daytime camping and swimming as well as having the leisure of getting ourselves connected to nature.
Before heading back to the base, we bathe ourselves with soap, shampoo and spring water. But the only problem is the changing area. One thing we do is to hide beneath the rocks and use extra-huge garments such as beach towels or even “malong” as our shield and right then we can put on with dry clothes.
This “small hidden paradise” is my personal beloved place for swimming and relaxing. I will keep coming back to this place over and over again.