Oasis in the desert: Wadi Shab

Oman is very dry country and most of the landscape is rocky, grey or brown with very little greens. But occasionally one can find a wadi - dry riverbed with high cliffs, where river flows during the times of rainy season and feeds the trees. So basically these are the only places to see some natural vegetation in Oman.
Wadi Shab is characterized by high cliffs and green riverbed
Wadi Shab is best known gorge in Oman and also one of the nicest, since it keeps at least some water throughout the year. And the presence of water means the presence of green plants. Wadi Shab is located approximately 150km southeast from the capital of Oman - Muscat and is ideal for an afternoon walk when the temperatures drop to bearable 35°C. Well, to be honest, it might be even a bit cooler in Wadi Shab, since the hight cliffs prevent direct sunlight into the wadi.


We were a bit skeptical before visiting Wadi Shab, because it is very touristy - and this is something we don't like. But at the same time we heard so many good things about this wadi, so we decided to check it out ourselves. After the visit we can say that it was well worth stopping there! Not that many tourists and really, really beautiful wadi!

If you are heading to Wadi Shab we have good news for you: it's easy to find! Wadi Shab is well signposted on the Muscat-Sur highway, take that exit and follow the road for next few hundred meters till the parking lot. Leave your car there and embark a small boat, which will take you (for a small fee of 1 rial = 2,5€) to the other side of the wadi. And this is the starting point for your hike!

First you need to take a boat to get on the other side of the wadi
The path is not difficult, at some points even paved, so the walk over big rocks is really easy. At the beginning of the wadi Rok found a banana plant full of small, green bananas. As a big banana-lover he took one with words: "This must be Omani kind of bananas, so small and green!" Well, it might be a special sort of bananas, but it definitely isn't tasty! My guess: not ripe yet! ;)

Rok and a banana of terrible taste
The path took us further along small river. April is still dry season in Oman, however soon this will change. Normally in June the rainy season starts and at that time, the river can get as high as 10 meters! (according to some locals)

Dry season in Wadi Shab
Path now, in dry season. In rainy season this is all under water.
After 45 minutes of hiking we came to a pool and the end of the path. The only way to continue to the waterfall was to swim up that pool, then up the river, walk in the shallow river, swim again in another pool and finally we reached the end. At least it looked like it. Rocks, steep cliffs ... where to go? 

The end of the path, swim if you want to get deeper into the wadi
Another local guy showed us a crack in the cliff and told us to swim through ... OMG! The crack was so small! Just to fit our heads! Luckily it wasn't very long, only about 10m ... because I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to swim in that claustrophobic crack for much longer. 

Can you see it? The crack at the end?
This much space we had to swim through a crack!
But believe us, it's well worth swimming through! On the other side there is a big cave with amazing waterfall falling in the river. It is truly beautiful. Unfortunately we don't have many photos from there, because Rok's camera is not waterproof and can't swim, while our old GoPro is also not capable of making nice photos in the darker spaces. So, you will have to trust us, that this cave us a MUST SEE and visit it yourself when traveling around Oman.

Inside the cave. Best photo we have

Katarina

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