When you think of outdoor adventure, Al Batinah Governorate will be the last thing you’d think of. Other than the hours of drive it has to take to get there, many are of the opinion that there’s not one good spot worthy of the long drive.
“The fact is, Al Batinah is a treasure trove of different outdoor activities and many of its attractions had gone under the radar because people kept on talking about the same destinations all the time,” Ahmed al Jaabri, head of the interest group Oman Outdoor Adventure, said.
Together with his trusted buddy Salim al Balushi and this writer, we ventured to this unknown part of the Sultanate to check out whether the gossips we heard about the “blue spring” in the area has some truth to it.
“I’d been hearing about this spring for some time now but because of how far it is from Muscat, in the beginning, it seems like too much of an effort. But having been to different wadis in Oman and constantly looking for new places to visit, we decided that it’s about time to bring the attractions of Batinah to the attention of many people,” he said.
For the uninitiated, Ain Sahban is a spring made beautiful by its azure waters and a collection of sulphur sediments that were deposited at the bottom.
At about 2 kilometres long, its small pools are great for quick dip and relaxation.
If you are looking for a new hiking trail with a beautiful spring to make the trek worth it, then you should definitely head out to Ain Sahban located just right between Suhar and Al Buraimi.
Here’s a traveller’s guide so you’d know what to do when you visit Ain Sahban.
Quick stop at
Since you are already in Al Batinah, it wouldn’t hurt to do a little bit of side trip.
The ‘sinkhole’ is a misnomer because the fact is, the hole was formed because of mining activities. Over the years, the hole was filled with water creating a beautiful emerald pool and while nobody can confirm whether the water is from a spring, it will remind one a lof of the more popular Bimmah sinkhole.
Shinas Sinkhole has gone under the radar for years. While swimming is prohibited for safety purposes (nobody really knows how deep it is), it’s a good spot to take some good photos.
Bring a four-wheel drive
The road can really be tough. There are two ways to get to the spring. The first option is by driving to the village which is about a kilometre away from the spring. From the village, you can begin your descent towards the garden and then climbing down on the side of the cliff. This option offers a decent view of the lush date palms that surround the village. The other option is by driving all the way to the spring. This means that you have to drive your car on rough terrain and somewhere in the middle, passing through a wadi with knee-deep water.
Easy hiking trail
While coming down the side of the cliff can become a challenge, the rest of the hike is easy. Kids can do it. Upon reaching the falaj that supplies the water to the farms far ahead, it’s just a matter of following the irrigation line to get to the ain. The falaj is well maintained but some overgrown bush may block your way. All you have to do is sweep them to the side. The wadi below is made up of huge boulders. While it sounds inviting to hike through the wadi, we’d recommend following the falaj for convenience.
Enjoy the sulphur-rich water
If you are a small group, there’s plenty of space with shade where you can lounge while in the water. While there are some parts that are over 6ft deep, most of Ain Sahban is about 3 ft deep or lower so kids can definitely swim in some areas without fear of drowning. Unlike Wadi Hoqeen that the water is warm, Ain Sahban is cooler. Make sure not to drink the water cause it’s definitely not safe to ingest.
Is it really worth
it to visit?
Comparing destinations is like comparing apples and oranges. While every now and then they may share qualities, they differ in a lot of ways. If you ever find yourself in Shinas or Al Batinah, then it will be a waste not to drop by this area. The area surrounding Ain Sabhan is a no-mans land. A series of steep and narrow rough roads will be too much to overcome for small cars and will definitely drain you of your energy. If you are looking for something different and new, then by all means we can say this is definitely worthy of your time.
DIRECTION: From Muscat, take the road going to Suhar. Once near Suhar, take the turn going to Al Buraimi. Watch out for a brown mosque. From this point onwards, punch in the GPS coordinates until you reach Ain Sahban.
COORDINATES: 24° 11’ 0” North, 56° 19’ 0” East