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Adventure trek through Quriyat canyon  

Photographer Khamis al Moharbi is pictured deep in the canyon 
       running from Suwqah to Al Suwayh in Quriyat wilayat

IF adventure treks are more your kind of fun, try the canyon that runs from Suwqah to Al Suwayh in the wilayat of Quriyat. This little-known gorge meanders along a rocky 15km course through steep mountains and spectacularly rugged terrain. Sheer cliffs, precipitous ravines and some stunning vistas en route all guarantee a special kind of trekking experience. 

To the uninitiated however, a trek through the canyon can be fraught with peril. For one, there are no tracks through the gorge, so you risk getting lost in the labyrinth of little wadis that join the main wadi flowing through this canyon. Besides, progress through the canyon is possible only by straightforward ascents up steep-sided cliffs at some places along the way. 

Furthermore, the trail for the most part clings to the edge of the canyon, so a misstep can be dicey.Nevertheless, this rugged route can be an experience in itself especially if you're the energetic, adventure-minded kind. The route itself is your destination. Thus, the harder the course, the greater is the thrill and the sense of accomplishment once you've successfully covered the length of the canyon. As is usually the case with wadi treks, it is advisable to break up into two teams and plan a simultaneous foray into the wadi from the opposite ends. 

This way both teams can meet midway in the wadi, share tips and experiences on their respective half of the journey, and exchange keys to their vehicles left at the starting points. Such an approach saves you the bother of trekking all the way back through the wadi just to retrieve your vehicle. Al Suwayh is located at the farthest end of Wadi al Arbiyeen in Wilayat Quriyat. 

To get there from Muscat, drive from Wadi Hatat roundabout to Quriyat, 80km away. At Quriyat roundabout, turn right in the direction of Daghmar. About 7km down this road, a signpost points you to Wadi Dayqah. Proceed along this bumpy trail which weaves in and out of the wadi and through rugged terrain for about 8km. Turn right at this point for Wadi al Arbiyeen.Suwqah, the upstream end of the canyon, can be reached only from the Dima wa'Tayeen side, in the eastern region. 

To get there, first drive to Ibra and take the turn, signposted Wadi Na'am, to reach Samaiya, an oasis village in Dima wa 'Tayeen wilayat. Just 3km before Samaiya however, a trail leads you to Suwqah, twisting along a 27km route through rugged terrain. Suwqah consists of a cluster of mountain hamlets nestled amid picturesque date palm groves. The canyon at this point is usually dry, its sinuous course strewn with rocks and boulders. 

There are hardly any tracks inside the canyon, the rocky ledges bearing no traces of footprints of previous trekkers through the gorge. It would therefore be best to take along a local villager who is familiar with the terrain.From the Al Suwayh side, you can follow the twisting course of a falaj to make initial progress through the canyon. But, some 3km into the gorge, the falaj disappears underground, leaving you to figure out the trail from thereon. 

As a thumb rule, look for evidence of water flows to guide you through the wadi. The track meanders in and out of the canyon, along ledges overlooking yawning chasms and across vertiginous cliffs. At one point progress is possible only by scaling seven ropes to get across a sheer cliff face. A thick sliver of blue water can be seen in a crevasse in the canyon below. 

Also along the way are dramatic landscapes of the canyon walls and massive rocks scattered along the wedge of the wadi.Not many trekkers have attempted this 15km crossing, but the handful who have say that the 18km trek through Wadi Dayqah, located not far from here, is a cakewalk in comparison. 

Unlike other wadis, there are no villages in this canyon, so it's advisable to be well-equipped and prepared for every conceivable contingency, notably first-aid kits, maps, GPS systems, compasses, ropes and other emergency paraphernalia, besides ample water supplies. It's a good six-hour hike through the canyon. 

Many hikers choose to camp overnight at Al Suwayh and Suwqah and begin their foray into the canyon at first light. Opportunities for nature photography abound at this time in the gorge.

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