Wadi Darbat

Top choice in Dhofar

A popular picnic site during the khareef and a great place to enjoy the jebel in any season, Wadi Darbat is a grassy plateau in the hills marked by Oman's largest natural permanent lake. This is the source of the estuary that flows into Khor Rori, and during a good khareef, water cascades through a series of limestone pools before tumbling over the plateau's edge in a long drop to the plain below.

In the dry months, October to May, the Jebbali tribespeople set up their camps in this area. The surrounding caves were used by the sultan’s forces, together with the British SAS, to infiltrate areas of communist insurgency in the mid-1970s. Now the most surreptitious activity you are likely to see is the scuttling away of a small, fur-clad rock hyrax (an unlikely relative of the elephant) that lives among the rocks. Chameleons share the same territory and are equally clandestine, changing colour when abashed.

Boat trips (OR4 per hour) are available, but don't be tempted to swim in any of the pools in Wadi Darbat – the snails bearing bilharzia occur here. Lots of tiny biting insects often make the site challenging during the rains. A tiny coffee shop selling tea, water and sandwiches opens between noon and 11pm at the very end of the road.

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