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Oman: Wadi Bani Awf

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Wadi Bani Awf | Oman | Asia

[Visited: April 2011]

The road from Muscat was as good as any asphalted road in Oman, and we soon reached the turnoff to Wadi Bani Awf from the road to Rustaq. At once, we were driving on a gravel road, leading us to what seemed a closed wall of rocks, where a narrow opening appeared giving us access to the wadi. The wide space around us was gone: we were driving in a canyon with rocky cliffs on both sides. Occasionally, we saw a watchtower, palm trees, a house and a goat. The dry landscape made it difficult to believe this wadi ever saw rain; yet, the sparse vegetation still looked pretty green, indicating that rain does fall here as well. Driving was easy, the track was in pretty good condition, and the views of the wadi and surrounding mountain scenery were impressive when we reached a small mountain pass. When we reached a small parking lot, we parked our Landcruiser, and climbed over some boulders to reach a narrow wadi with a cliff face rising straight out of the wadi bed. Small pools of water in which we discovered frogs and small fish, and we could imagine that there should be small waterfalls and an opportunity to swim with more water in the wadi.

Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Lower parts of Wadi Bani Awf

Continuing on our way south, we came across small villages, ruins of very old stone houses, while the road was always gaining height - slowly but surely. The peaks above us were always ragged and looked like someone had just forcefully and haphazardly torn them off from a vast rock. When we reached the small village of Zammah, we decided to see what these wadi villages were like. A few kids greeted our car, and when we got out, we were immediately invited on a piece of cloth. Soon enough, a sweet woman brought us a couple of oranges and coffee, while a little later, a small container was opened, containing dates that were harvested in this same Wadi Bani Awf. The oranges and dates were delicious, while I only drank the quite bitter coffee out of courtesy for the hospitable Omani family. They did not speak much English, and it was only when we left, and a 4WD arrived carrying the older kids of Zammah who had been to school, that we were able to really communicate. Our stop in Zammah was a nice experience, but we still had a long way to go that day, and decided to say thanks and goodbye before starting off for the rest of Wadi Bani Awf.

Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): A deep crack in the landscape: Snake Gorge or Wadi Bimmah

Very soon after Zammah, the road started to climb seriously. At this point, an old Omani man in his traditional dress and with the typical hat, asked to be taken up, and after the warm welcome we just experienced, we could only stop and take him, also because traffic in this part of Wadi Bani Awf is very thin. The road quickly gained altitude on a steep and dusty track, clinging desperately to the tall wall face of the wadi. Twisting and turning around bends, I was happy there was almost no oncoming traffic on this narrow track. We stopped frequently to take in the views that were more spectacular every time. At the turn-off to Bilad Sayt, we decided to first bring our passenger to his destination Hat, which proved a tricky road, crossing a river bed and with steep patches where I had to engage 4WD traction. After saying goodbye to our Omani friend, we visited the great village of Bilad Sayt, before we returned on the same mountain road. After finding out we were going the wrong direction - indications and maps in Oman are not always reliable - we drove the road to Hat again, and now continued up the steep ascent with hairpin bends. We were absolutely the only car now, the disappearing daylight was just sufficient to give breathtaking views of Wadi Bani Awf below us.

Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Panorama of the upper parts of Wadi Bani Awf
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Narrow wadi with high walls of rock off Wadi Bani Awf
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): View over the track to Hat seen from above
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Gravel track leading out of Wadi Bani Awf
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Watchtower guarding the entrance of Wadi Bani Awf
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Palm trees and rocks at the entrance of Wadi Bani Awf
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Gravel track leading through the lower parts of Wadi Bani Awf
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Narrow wadi off the main road through Wadi Bani Awf
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Looking back over the rugged terrain of the upper parts of Wadi Bani Awf
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): View over rugged Jebel Akhdar landscape above Zammah
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Narrow wadi with huge boulders and a little water
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Track in the mountains between Zammah and Bilad Sayt
Picture of Wadi Bani Awf (Oman): Track leading up the mountains

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