Exploring The Nakhal Fort And Nakhal Hot Springs In Oman
In the mountains west of Muscat, Oman can be found the Nakhal Fort and Nakhal Hot Springs. The nation of Oman is fast becoming a tourism hub, as visitors have begun to realise that this ancient land holds more than just desert and dust, but offers an accessible look at authentic Arabian culture that is increasingly hard to find in the fast moving Middle East.
In the Hajar Mountain Range, just 120 kilometres inland from the capital city of Muscat is the Nakhal Fort. I went to Nakhal in search of forts and culture, and found an authentic piece of Omani heritage.
And after getting hot, sweaty and dusty on the ramparts I soaked in the nearby Nakhal hot springs too!
The Nakhal Fort Oman
The impressive fortification is found in the mountain town of Nakhal, a place surrounded by palm trees and high mountains which form the Hajar Range, an imposing mountain region which has over the centuries traditionally separated coastal Oman from inland Oman.
It’s a region that has been fought over and divided through the years by the country’s tribes and Sultans, and the high mountains are the site of many old and long maintained forts and castles controlling strategic settlements and passes.
Nakhal is near to the regional centre of Nizwa, and the Nakhal Fort was originally constructed to control trade into nearby Nizwa and to protect the green oasis of water and palm trees that now surrounds it.
The Nakhal Fort itself dates back centuries, but the present form was designed and built in the 17th Century, and in recent years was renovated and restored by the Ministry of Tourism to show off the distinct architectural style of Oman, and to house a cultural and historic museum.
Exploring The Nakhal Fort
The Nakhal Fort forms an imposing structure that rises above the surrounding town of Nakhal. It’s built atop a rocky platform, with the towers and walls constructed on the jagged rocks that protrude upwards. It’s the first sight that any visitor to the town will see as they pass through the mountains here.
The sand coloured walls of Nakhal Fort are surrounded by green, verdant palms which are fed by local irrigation systems from the mountain springs above. Trickling down into the town are the Nakhal Hot Springs too, a place for locals and visitors alike to bathe and clean in the warm water.
I went first into the Nakhal Fort, walking up the steep slope and into the maze of entrance ways and gates that protect the structure, in search of Omani history and tradition.
Inside The Nakhal Fort
The Nakhal Fort is well preserved and maintained. It’s one of the most distinctive forts in Oman, but surprisingly quiet to walk around and explore.
Like much of Oman, mass tourism has yet to find any roots here, and it’s easy to walk around and experience the preserved, authentic feel of Nakhal in peace and quiet.
Old cannon line the walls.
Artefacts, old weapons and old books fill the rooms of the fort, while the towers can be climbed for spectacular views over the mountains and palm trees.
The beating sun is always relentless in Oman, and here is no exception, but the shady buildings and drafty towers provide some relief from the heat while exploring Nakhal Fort.
The best relief though, is a swim in the Nakhal Hot Springs.
The Nakhal Hot Springs
After getting dusty, sweaty and hot walking the walls and climbing the towers, I made my way through the town to the Nakhal Hot Springs, which lie just a short journey from the Fort.
The Hot Springs aren’t exactly hot, just warm, but in the Omani heat it’s perfect.
A large bathing area- more like a Hot Tub- is fed from the waters, and it’s here that you’ll find locals and tourists alike relaxing in the water.
The stream is full of small fish which are likely to nibble away at your feet and hands. It’s essentially a free fish spa, although the huge number of fish swarming your limbs can be disconcerting.
Locals will wander along the river bank selling fresh mangoes, Omani coffee and dates while you while away the afternoon in the water, local style.
Nakhal Fort And Hot Springs Travel Advice
- Nakhal Fort is located around 120 Kilometres west of Muscat, a journey of 1.5 hours by car.
- There is little public transport and the best option is to rent a car, or book onto a tour.
- A trip to Nakhal can be combined with trips further into the Hajar Mountains, or to Rustaq, where another fine fort is found.
- The Hot Springs are towards the back of the town, there’s only one main road in Nakhal so just follow this away from the fort until you see people bathing!
- The Hot Springs are free, and Nakhal Fort costs 500 Baizas to enter.
Location Of Nakhal Fort And Hot Springs Oman:
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If you loved this article about Nakhal Fort and Hot Springs, then why not have a read of my experience swimming at the Bimmah Sinkhole in Oman! You can find that article HERE!
Mwasalat bus services are provided to travel overland from Dubai to Muscat. Wonderful experience. A travel for 4-5 hours .