Wadi Nakhar

April 2007 (English only)

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Wadi Nakhar (also spelled Nakhr); a spectacular gorges cutting deep into the mountains, leading-up to Jabal Shams, its highest peak.

Wadi Nakhar (Nakhr) cuts deep into the southern flank of the Oman Mountains near Jabal Shams, its highest point. This spectacular gorge is known as Arabia's Grand Canyon.  Most people visiting the area will see this gorge from high above and wonder about the green blobs deep down.

The views from below are likewise spectacular. A good track leads to the village of Nakhr where the local people will show your their hand-woven rugs with distinctive red (dyed with madder, a rich coloring from India), black and brown patterns for which this area is famous. You will find them friendly and proud of their work, whether you buy or not. The wadi has great views and has perennial water, flowing at many places across the track. A very nice place to relax, enjoying the birds and the views that the massive limestone cliffs offer.

How to get there: The shortest way is taking the main road from Nizwa to Bahla (an alternative -scenic- route goes along the foot of the mountains via Tanuf via the newly opened Al Hoota cave via Al Hamra and in that case you best follow the tourist signposts for Jabal Shams) . Zero the odometer at the second roundabout in Nizwa, the one with the piles of books in the middle. Almost 32.5 km in the direction of Bahla you will get to a roundabout near a big Toyota garage and Oman Oil Petrol station where you need to turn right in the direction of Al Hamra. At 44.5 km is another roundabout, this time near a Shell Petrol station. This is the last one on the route to Jabal Shams so you may want to consider refueling. Turn left, signposted wadi Ghul and Jabal Shams. At 51 km is the wadi Ghul recharge dam that was built  to stop floodwaters from washing into Al Hamra and to allow water to be stored and drain down into the wadi bed to replenish the groundwater. At around 54 km you will see the modern village of Ghul to your right before the road descends into the wadi bed. At the junction signposted 'Nakhar', in the middle of the wadi crossing, turn to the right. The old village of Ghul is now to your left, right above the gardens and the falaj. To you right is the new village, built on top of a huge gravel plateau which is an ancient alluvial fan shed by the two wadis, but is now being eroded by the same wadis. Wadi Nakhar quickly narrows and the steep massive rocks to your right provide for a nice shady picnic place in the wadi bed. From here wadi Nakhar winds to the north, cutting deep into the flank of Jabal Shams. Watch the skies for clouds as you don't want to be in this narrow gorge if it would start raining. Expect water at several places in the wadi. At the time of writing the trackwas being worked on at the very end. The village of An Nakhar is at an altitude of some 900m. The cliffs around you are at an altitude of some 2000 metres.

Wadi Nakhar with the massive cliffs left up where the village of Al Khateem and Sap Bani Khamis make for some lovely views. The cliff is some 1000 meters high.

Cliffs all around with Jabal Shams forming the backdrop at more than 3000 metres, some 2000 above the wadi.. Clouds above could mean trouble as the wadi is rather narrow at many palces

The end of the road near Nakhr with work contining to extend the track. It probably needs redoing after serious rains time and time again

Carpet 'factory' near the village of Nakhr. The carpets go for 20-40 ORE, depending on size. The larger ones take some two weeks. You will always see the men busy spinning thread. The threads are made from wool by shearing sheep and goats and then spinning it into yarn - a slow process done by the shepherds, women and older children whenever they have spare time. Each ball of yarn, called a kubba, takes about four days to complete, and nine balls are needed for a complete rug. Weaving rugs is done by men only on a very simple, two-beam loom - set-up on the ground. The men on this picture are of the Al Abri and Al Khatari families.

Big holes need big stones, but even these will wash away by a wadi in flood. This bowl catches most rain from the Al Qannah massif  and its southern plateau.

Water dripping out of the limestone walls, covered by thick layers of travertine, almost as if one is in a cave with stalagmites and stalactites.


Jabal Shams Al Khatum / Sap Bani Khamis and Ghul

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@ J. Schreurs April 2007