Easter weekend meant that I had four days to play with, and having spent a day relaxing around Al Qurum Park and the beach, I felt the need to find a new wadi.
North from Muscat lies Wadi Hawasinah, a short drive from the coastal road. The drive brings you closer back towards the mountain range that spans from the Western Hajar, where Jebel Shams dominates the landscape. Just past the village of Al Ghayzan, the old falaj lies crumbling below a new concrete irrigation canal running on top. The main falaj channel across the wadi is still intact, forming an impressive bridge baked together with stone.
Further down the road lies the entrance to Wadi ad Dil, where the new tarmac road had cut off the obvious entrance to the wadi bed. After a couple of attempts to find a drivable route to the wadi, I set off towards the looming gorge in the distance across a good gravel track. The entrance to the gorge lay beyond a small settlement and a few terraces of date palms and crops.
After scrambling, wading, jumping and walking across a narrow wadi bed, I came to a rock face blocking the canyon. Attached to the boulder was a hefty chain hanging down with stirrups. Known as The Chains, they had been there since at least the early 1900s. The excerpt below describes an expedition by Captain JG Eccles in 1925:
“In the narrowest part the torrent bed drops a sheer 40 feet, and over the precipice thus formed a chain has been hung. Well forged with long, narrow links it is firmly secured between two rocks, but as it is not long enough to reach the bottom a rope has been attached to the further end. The face of the cliff is concave, so that no foothold is obtainable. The tribesmen said that up to twenty years ago there had been only a rope and many had lost their lives by its breaking. They could not name the public-spirited Shaikh who had substituted the chain.”
Although they looked easy to climb, the challenge was slipping my feet into the stirrups that rested on the rock face. Not taxing, but frustrating! There was quite a sense of achievement in getting to the top of the boulder… intact!
Not much further on was an emerald pool of cool water to swim in. The cold waterfall dribbling over the edge of a rock was a welcome reward for surviving the climb!