Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Road trip: Wadi Dayqah Dam and Bimmah Sinkhole

Up until the beginning of the month the weather in Oman was still unreasonably hot. The days are now a cool average of 29oC, perfect for getting out to explore.  

Our first road trip of the winter was to the Wadi Dayqah Dam, near Quriyat, which is about a 1.5 hour drive from Muscat. Unexpectedly, as you get closer to the dam, there are road signs to guide you and the drive is a pleasant one as you get to take in the landscape of the country. 

The dam was inaugurated in March 2012, and, according to the local newspaper, can store 100 million cubic meters of water, with the storage lake covering an area of 350 hectares and extending approximately 6km. The water stored is then provided, free of cost, to the residents of Quriyat for agricultural purposes.

The dam is impressive, not just in terms of the scale of the project, but how it has been made into a visitor's site. At the top there is a panorama view of the whole site and a park area, complete with shaded seating, fountains and even a place to buy food.  

We spent about two hours there, admiring the site and eating our packed lunch. There are a number of places to admire the view and appreciate the structure of the dam. 
Unfortunately, the rains were coming (yes, rain) and that meant the day was overcast so my pictures didn't come out as stunning as they might have done on a clear and sunny day. There is an eerie beauty to them though. 

Our next stop was the Bimmah Sinkhole, within the Hawiyat Najm Park. This is approximately an hour from the dam, and is in the same Quriyat region. 

The park is of course a tourist attraction, with an entrance gate, and stone walls surrounding the sinkhole. I imagine stumbling across it before the walls were built must have been quite a beautiful surprise. The cliffs surrounding are all limestone and the sinkhole is believed to be the result of natural erosion.  

There are steps and a handrail to lead you down into the sinkhole, but I would still mind your step, one step even has a tree stump in the middle. 

Inside the sinkhole is a beautiful pool of water, with a colour gradient of emerald green to blue as the water gets deeper. In this case the overcast sky, and visiting close to sunset probably an advantage as the colours were beautiful. The water is crystal clear and at its edge are tiny fish, which I have since read are great for giving you a free pedicure. 

You are of course free to take a swim, I didn't on this occasion but there was a group of local small boys enjoying themselves, although I cringed every time one decided to jump off a ledge into the pool. At it's deepest the pool is 20m but the drop from shallow to deep seems to be a small one and I was scared they would hit the stone.

Although the dam was impressive if you are only in Oman for a short while I would skip it in favour of visiting the sinkhole...although I have a few more impressive road trips to share so stay tuned! 

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