Nakhal Fort, Oman

Oman Travelogue, Part 2: Nakhal, Wadi Bani Awf, and Al Hamra

This is part 2 of my series of articles about my recent photo tour in the Sultanate of Oman.

You can find part one here: Oman Travelogue, Part 1: Muscat.

The next episodes in the series will be published shortly. I am currently planning my next photo tour of Oman. Would you like to join me there? Check out the tour page and sign up to be notified when bookings will open.

Nakhal And Its Fort

Nakhal (or Nakhl) is town in Al Batinah Region in Oman. It is home to Nakhal Fort, a massive fortified building sitting atop a hill that dominates the countryside and the adjoining date palm plantation. From this position, the owners could control one of the major commercial roads in the region.

The fort, like many similar ones in Oman, is beautifully preserved and restored using traditional materials and techniques. This is also thanks to the fact that it served, until recent years, as the residence of the local wali (governor), but it has now been turned into a museum.

Nakhal Fort, Oman

Nakhal Fort

Nakhal Fort, Oman

Nakhal Fort

Nakhal Fort, Oman

Nakhal Fort

Nakhal Fort, Oman

Nakhal Fort

Al Thowarah Hot Springs

This area, only a short distance from the city of Nakhal, is popular with the locals who come here to bathe in the warm thermal waters that flow from the ground and that are collected in pools. We didn’t meet many people there, probably because it’s winter and it was a work day. Our most interesting encounter was with a group of Pakistani construction workers. As you might know, much of manual work in Oman is carried out by workers from the Indian sub-continent. They come here to earn better wages than they would get at home, but I reckon they don’t enjoy many rights.

Even though conversation was a bit difficult, they had no problem sitting for a little impromptu portrait session.

Portrait Session at Al Thowarah Hot Springs, Oman

Portrait Session at Al Thowarah Hot Springs

Pakistani Workers at Al Thowarah Hot Springs, Oman

Pakistani Workers at Al Thowarah Hot Springs

Portrait Session at Al Thowarah Hot Springs, Oman

Portrait Session at Al Thowarah Hot Springs

Portrait Session at Al Thowarah Hot Springs, Oman

Portrait Session at Al Thowarah Hot Springs

A Pakistani Worker at Portrait Session at Al Thowarah Hot Springs, Oman

A Pakistani Worker at Portrait Session at Al Thowarah Hot Springs

Wadi Bani Awf

After leaving Nakhal, we drove for a while on paved roads, after eventually turning left into a graded road for the start of our epic drive across the Hajar mountains, along the valley known as Wadi Bani Awf. This is known as one of the finest off-road drives in Oman and leads you from the feet of the mountains up to an altitude of more than 2,000m on a track that gets increasingly steeper and narrower and flanked by the precipice on one side.

Here is a little video that shows a bit of what it’s like.

About halfway up our ascent, we stopped to photograph the village of Balad Sayt and its cultivated terraces.

Balad Sayt

When you reach the summit, the graded road abruptly turns into a nicely paved one that descends the other side of the mountains towards Al Hamra. We stopped there to take in the view and shoot a photo of me and of our other driver, Ali, as a record of having completed this amazing drive.

Me and our trusted guide and driver Ali

Me and our trusted guide and driver Ali

Al Hamra

We stopped briefly in Al Hamra to admire the village of Bait Al Safah from a distance, but the light wasn’t great, so no pictures here. We were more interested in reaching our hotel, The View, in time for sunset and for some down time by the pool after the early morning start and having taken in all the dust along the road.

Sunset Over the Al Hajar Mountains, Oman

Sunset Over the Al Hajar Mountains

The View, Al Hamra, Oman

The View, Al Hamra

The View, Al Hamra, Oman

The View, Al Hamra

The View, Al Hamra

After dinner, we spent some time outside doing some night photography. The city lights down below were very bright, so I had to keep my ISO low to avoid overexposing them. In addition, I used a 3-stop GND filter upside-down to darken them a bit, so that I could still capture some of the stars.

Al Hamra at Night, Oman

Al Hamra at Night

In the next episode, we will explore the Jebel Shams and the An Nakhur gorge. Stay tuned for more!

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