Thursday, February 21: After leaving the wetlands and driving quite some distance to Quriyat, we look for the brown rectangular sign to Wadi Dayqah Dam. We easily spot the sign at one of the exits to Quriyat, and then continue inland for about 20 km to see the biggest dam in Oman, inaugurated less than a year ago, in late March, 2012.
The dam can store 100 million cubic meters of water and the storage lake covers an area of 350 hectares and extends about 6km from the main body of the dam, according to MuscatDaily.com: WADI DAYQAH DAM TO BE OPENED TODAY.
The project includes a tunnel inside the main structure of the dam for control, injection and discharge of the leaked water. According to Muscat Daily, water is provided free of cost to the residents of Quriyat for agricultural purposes. The project is also economically feasible for providing potable water to the residents of Quriyat and Muscat.
The project was conceived beginning in 1978 to increase the volume of water resources in the Sultanate because of water shortages in some areas of the country, especially Muscat and Quriyat.
It also includes a visitors’ center that offers a panorama view of the whole site. This grassy area includes shaded seating, water fountains, paved roads, car parks, and a helipad. We look for tourist information, but the police on site tell us there is none available.
We walk around the site, admiring the size and scope of the dam. We wish there was a tourist information so we could ask questions. What we really want to know is where all this water comes from. We both think there must be a constant flow from somewhere in order to justify the cost of such a massive undertaking.
Since it’s lunchtime, we take out our omelet sandwiches and enjoy our lunch at one of the shaded seating areas.
Then we head down the coast 38km south of Quriyat to our next brief stop, the Bimmah Sinkhole, enclosed within Hawiyat Najm Park.
The park surrounding is not bad; here Mario and I are thrilled to discover some cool-looking trees with interesting seed pods.
The sinkhole itself, which apparently used to be a thing of beauty, has now been reduced to a tourist trap, with ugly stone walls around its rim and concrete steps with royal blue handrails running down to the inside. In the middle of the concrete steps, a tree is growing, as if the builders didn’t want to bother cutting down the tree in the path. At least they saved a tree, a good thing, as trees are rare in Oman.
Inside the sinkhole, if we ignore all of this, is a beautiful aquamarine pool that reflects in dappled patterns off the limestone cliffs above.
On the rocky landing near the pool, we find a smattering of pretty green & purple what-nots.
After hanging around this park briefly, we head to our next stop, Wadi Arbiyyin, which Mario and I both believe may be the most beautiful wadi in Oman. To be continued in Part 3….