Salalah Route Three: Ain Gariz & Wadi Uyan (inc downloadable route)

Route 3: The Nature Trail route with a sprinkling of religious history
This route is 112kms in length and comprises mainly blacktop; it took us about 4 hours to complete.  Most of the route can be covered by sedan, however if you want to go to see Wadi Uyan, then it is essential to have a 4×4 with good clearance. 

We had discovered Ain Gariz the night we arrived, but at that time it was a bit misty, and just heaving with both visitors and vendors, so we were keen to return to see what was drawing so many people.  From Salalah we took the road sp Ain Gariz  past a huge encampment of local people, all in large tents which seemed to be metal frames covered with tarpaulins, then we turned right  (TURN AG – N17 04.891 E54 04.148), look out for the massive termite mounds in the fenced off forests to your right. 

Incidentally, during the Kareef it is a tradition for local families to move into tents in a huge field just off the Salalah bypass.  In days of old they would rent their homes out to some of the hundreds of thousands of visitors but the government is clamping down on this now.  A whole new town springs up with shops and restaurants, even camel farms!  Barbequed goat anyone?


We were glad we returned  to Ain Gariz  ( AIN GARIZ – N17 06.343 E54 04.493) as it is a very pretty spot, possibly formed by a sinkhole, with trees clinging onto the rocks and a spring (Ain means spring in Arabic), which we are reliably informed will have running water by the end of July.  There were a few people there but it wasn’t crowded as you can see by the pictures.



We then came back the way we went in, taking a right at the roundabout at the end of the road and heading up into the mountains again.  We passed many people having their picnics in light drizzle, and flying their kites – near power lines too;  you cannot believe how busy the road and the surrounding hills were on the road to Nabi Ayoub’s (Job’s) Tomb.   This was well signposted, and turning left at the waypoint (TURN TOMB – N17 07.053 E53 59.291) will take you on to a narrow road which twists and turns its way down to the carpark  (TOMB  N17 06.640 E53 59.702).

 


This is a picture I’ve borrowed from another site , the room was full, including some local ladies so I didn’t think it appropriate to take one myself.



The tomb itself is interesting, in that its occupant is part of both the Christian and the Muslim beliefs and a guide who really knew his stuff showed us round the tomb and the church/mosque at the side of the building. We finished off our visit by walking round the garden which wasn’t as lavish as we would have expected, but had some great plants and the most beautiful views of the mountains. Check out the weaver birds’ nest in the trees.

On leaving Nabi Ayoub’s tomb, we drove back up the hill and turned left, rejoining the main road as it meandered through the mountains.  The light mist and clouds were left behind as we neared Wadi Uyan. 

To get there take a left at  (TURN WU -N17 14.328 E53 55.053), and in 400 metres turn left again onto a track ( TURN TRACK  N17 14.526 E53 54.913).  This track is extremely bumpy, rocky and pitted in places, only suitable for a 4×4 with good clearance.  Follow the well worn path along for about 3.5kms, there is a track off to the left ( DON’T TURN  N17 14.375 E53 53.672) but we don’t advise it as halfway down the track has been washed away and it’s tight to turn and come back.  Instead keep on the main track until you reach the carpark  (WADI UYAN  N17 14.786 E53 53.328).



It is possible to climb down in to the wadi and some guidebooks suggest you can jump in and swim, but we didn’t try any of these.  Just being here and observing the birds swooping and diving near the water was enough for us.  On the way out, we stopped and took some photos of camels grazing on rocky ground, we were always amazed to see camels outwith their “traditional” environment of the desert.



This is one of my favourite photos from the whole trip.
Once the camel watching was complete, we rejoined the main road and turned left (heading north) to rejoin the main road 31  (JOIN 31 – N17 14.700 E54 04.417) on its descent into Salalah.  Take care if you encounter fog – a common occurence in June and July.

Route can be downloaded here
Other Blogs in this series on Salalah – 

Route Five: Long Journey Home

Salalah: Bits I have missed

Picture blog: Camels and Coos
Picture blog: birds and beasties 

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