Al Haylayn < OMAN EXPLORER

AL Haylayn's dramatic geology

 

The tour of the wadi begins at Al Khowa'i where the chasm appears along a 600-metre rocky course, created perhaps by the incessant action of torrential flows over millions of years. A downpour in the area can turn this stretch into a raging torrent, making any tour of the wadi at this time a foolhardy exercise. It flows with a dull roar for several weeks thereafter

 

 

The Sultanate's mighty wadis, created by ancient rivers that criss-crossed the peninsula many million years ago, have spawned in their wake a spectacular legacy of dramatic gorges, precipitous ravines, picture-book landscapes and verdant oasis swathes. However, none is as striking as the splendid chasm produced by Wadi Haylayn as it meanders through the wilayat of Al Suwaiq in the Batinah region. It is unique in that the wadi makes a dramatic breach in solid rock at Al Haylayn — so called because the wadi cuts a swathe right through the middle of the village.

To explore this fascinating geological formation, drive from Muscat towards Al Suwaiq along the Batinah highway. Turn left at the Al Musannah roundabout and head in the direction of Al Rostaq. Some 27km down this road is Mabrah, known for its verdant countryside and idyllic ambience (discussed later in this article). Just 15km ahead is Al Haylayn, a charming Omani village where modern brick house jostle with atmospheric mud dwellings belonging to a previous age. The narrow trail meanders through the peaceful village, offering you a glimpse of rustic village life. Scattered around the village are several splendid sidr trees, under whose canopies people sit and banter away animatedly.

Another trail skirts the edge of the village and leads up a nearby hillock, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of Al Haylayn and the spectacular course of the wadi. Wadi Haylayn appears to cleave the village into two halves with houses located on both sides amid lush date palm swathes. Your tour of the wadi begins at Al Khowa'i where the chasm appears along a 600-metre rocky course, created perhaps by the incessant action of torrential flows over millions of years.

A downpour in the area can turn this stretch into a raging torrent, making any tour of the wadi at this time a foolhardy exercise. It flows with a dull roar for several weeks thereafter. The fissure snakes through the rocky strata, plunging six metres in places and widening to about three metres at its broadest point. The gentle burble of water through the narrow channel can be heard all year round, save when the wadi is in spate. In some places, you may have to wade through knee deep water as you trek through the chasm.

About 3km downstream, the flow is channelled back to Al Haylayn through conduits that lead to the village's splendid heritage of date palm groves and fruit orchards. You can stroll through this pleasant canopy of gardens and explore ancient mud homes with their unique architectural features.While exploring the countryside around Al Haylayn, be sure to visit Mabrah, a tiny hamlet of breathtaking charm. A lush spread of fodder fields surrounds the village, edged by verdant date palm gardens.

Standing sentinel over this tranquil setting is a ruined tower perched on a nearby hill. In the far distance are the rugged profiles of the Eastern Hajar mountains obscured by the noonday haze. Beyond Mabrah, the trail leads to a couple of charming hamlets, all boasting their picturesque date palm swathes, watchtowers and aflaj. Mesafeyah and Bedet are places worth exploring. En route from Mabrah to Al Suwaiq, you can explore the great quarries of the wilayat where raw Omani marble is excavated and polished into fine slabs at factories in Rusayl.

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