Wadi Damm

September 2009

 

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Literally translated as the hidden wadi. Indeed hidden in the triangle between Jabal Khawr, Jabal Misht and Jabal Shams. Hidden behind the famous beehive tombs at Al Ayn. Slicing deep into the northwestern flank of the Jabal Shams plateau. A steady stream of water running from pool to pool mostly in the shade of massive, sheer vertical, sometimes even overhanging, walls of rock.

Also spelled as Wadi Dumm or Wadi Dham. 


Eid Holiday 2009.

September being still hot we decided to head for the cool air high up in the mountains. The initial plan was to camp in the 'forest' at Ghadir Farras, but this has now been closed for visitors. Perhaps better because it is a delicate desert-mountain forest that can easily be disturbed and even destroyed by too many visitors. Our campsite at Aqaba Saqba allowed us to still go for a long walk across the plateau and visiting the forest on foot. The views from this side of the mountain range are great. Sitting comfortably and watching the setting sun we agreed to explore the wadi below our feet where we had visited the famous beehive tombs at Al Ayn before. Charles explained that there is also a beautiful green wadi beyond these tombs and why not visit as well. The easiest connection to wadi Damm from Jabal Shams is down to Wadi Ghul and subsequently crossing the northern  flank of Jabal Khawr to Sint and subsequently down to Damm (for route see Hawasina to Jabal Shams. That was the easy part. Charles, however had stomach trouble and decided it would be better to go straight home. No guide....
Without guide book it proved difficult to find the wadi, but at the tombs at Al Ayn we met colleagues with the Oman Offroad book and they took us to the wadi. We had passed it twice! Certainly a hidden wadi (quite fittingly Dham or Damm in Arabic means just that).
It is a great place to be, but to really appreciate it you should go beyond the first pools, where too many people leave too much rubbish. The walk up takes care of that, with only very few daring to climb to the spring and ponds further up the wadi. Take your swimsuit and take a dive into the refreshing pools. A little higher from the pools the water seems to flow from a narrow cave, more like a narrow slit, at the same level of the wadi and hidden behind a lot of greenery. Beyond that point the wadi is dry, but it will ultimately take you deep through the bowels of the Oman Mountains up to the northwest side of Jabal Shams, where we had camped the night before.

Google Earth Image
How to get there: Follow road from Bahla to Ibri and turn to right at 23 1'6.46"N -   5655'33.85"E (at petrol station), leading you to the famous beehive tombs at Al Ayn ( 2312'53.50"N -  5657'45.30"E). Worth a walk around. Continue on main road until a roundabout near the village of Barut ( 2313'32.31"N -  57 2'17.82"E) and cross this straight (road to right takes you up to Sint and left goes to Barut). The gravel road takes you along a mosque and into the wadi. Near the villag of Dumm ( 57 2'17.82"E -  57 2'17.82"E) turn right and follow track to the end. Walk upstream in wadi. After some 350m you will see a dam with a small lake behind it. It is best to take footpath to the right side of the wadi. This will take you high up along the lake and subsequently down into the wadi again near a big pool. That's where you will need to crawl up underneath a big rock (there is probably a piece of rope hanging down). The passage may look unclear but you will notice that the limestone is very smoothly polished by a steady stream of sliding people. Beyond the wadi gets even more impressive with the right side towering high above and partly even overhanging. The huge blocks that have fallen down once upon a time give you an even more insignificant feeling walking in the cradle of mother nature. Some 1000 m up along the wadi you will get to the pools and springs beyond which there is no water anymore. There may be a lot of visitors at the start of the walk but you will loose most the further you walk. As a coincidence checking the map I noticed that wadi Damm is down the same wadi as the one we had camped up on the Jabal Shams northwest flank on the night before (Aqaba Saqba).

Please note: all coordinates and tracks are with reference to WGS84, UTM zone 40. The wadi is also well described in Oman Offroad (2006, see References). Track file can be downloaded as Google Earth kmz file Wadi Damm.
 

Above and left. Walking through this immense cleft, cut into massive limestones is very impressive. You need to climb a bit, but with plenty of shade, water and surprising views at every corner, you will hardly notice.

Pools near the spring. Cool and refreshing. It certainly is slippery to get in and out and there are plenty of fish keeping you company.

The water flows on top of the rocks, dripping along a curtain of green into the pools, hiding an almost secret passage. 

Potholes created by boulders tumbling, grinding and hammering the rocks when the wadi is in flood, only to rest peacefully at the bottom of these holes after the water has passed.

The spring; a horizontal narrow slit in the rocks where water emerges from nowhere. 
Truly a hidden wadi and with a majestic appearance that one does not expect at all.

If you visit Bat, Ibri, or Bahla you should certainly add wadi Damm to your itinerary. Do not forget your swimsuit. 

Our nice company this time were the Forbes and Whyte families.

References

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@ J. Schreurs November 2009