Al Batinah is an expansive coastal area running parallel to the magnificent Hajar Mountain range in north-eastern Oman. It is home to many beautiful wadis and villages, such as Wadi Mistal and Wakan Village, and attractions such as Nakhal Fort and the hot springs of Ain Al Thowara.
Dotted with historic sights and breath-taking scenery, Al Batinah is considered the green belt of Oman with most of the country’s fresh produce harvested on plantations in the area. Coastal towns are known for their fisheries and endless sandy beaches.
Sohar, Oman’s capital city in ancient times, is located in this region and rumoured to be the hometown of the legendary Sindbad the Sailor. Today, the city is one of the largest in the Sultanate, housing one of the region’s largest ports and many of the country’s main industries.
PLACES TO SEE
Rather than the usual mud brick colour associated with forts in Oman, the Sohar Fort is completely white. Built during the 13th century, Sohar Fort now houses a small museum in its largest tower but an original 10km long tunnel that served as an escape route in the event of a siege is still intact.
Dating back to pre-Islamic times, Nakhal Fort is one of the most well-known forts in Oman. Built on the top of a large rock, the fort has undergone many improvements over the centuries and today welcomes visitors looking to enjoy panoramic views of Nakhal village and the historic artefacts collection housed within the museum.
Ain Al Thawarah hot springs
Close to the Nakhal Fort, along a winding road framed by palm trees as far as the eye can see, are the Ain Al Thawarah hot springs. To this day, locals use the springs as a trusted water supply, and there is even a small pool to enjoy the therapeutic properties of the mineral water.
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful mountain villages in the Sultanate, Bilad Sayt is nestled within the Hajar Mountains and reachable only by 4WD vehicle from Al Hamra or Wadi Bani Awf. Villagers still practice the traditional terrace farming that has served the community for centuries.
Wakan Village – Wadi Mistal
Overlooking Wadi Mistal, Wakan is a beautifully terraced farming village, set 2,000 metres above sea level in the Hajar Mountains. With hiking tracks and viewing platforms that make the most of the panoramic views of the wadi below, it is truly worth the visit.
Bait Na'aman Castle
Constructed in the 16th century as private residence for visiting imans, Bait Na’aman Castle is perfect for visitors to catch a glimpse at past times. This is thanks to the many traditional furniture and fittings on display, as well as other features such as the underground falaj system.
Al Khabourah Castle
Facing the sea, Al Khabourah Castle is located 2km north east from the Al Khabourah roundabout. Visitors can explore the former living and storage quarters left and right of the large courtyard, or enjoy the stunning views of the sea and surroundings from the castle walls.
Canyoning – Snake Gorge (Wadi Bimah)
Snake Gorge is located halfway through Wadi Bani Awf, a wadi that crosses the Al Hajar mountain range; it is famous for an extreme form of hiking – canyoning. This entails crossing the gorge on foot, across various boulders and water pools. Given the required level of fitness, those wishing to explore it are asked to arrange a guide.