After parking our car in the shade of the new Muscat-Sur highway, a small boat took us to the other side of the wide pool that marks the beginning of Wadi Shab. We started hiking up the wadi, that was still wide at this point. At times, the wadi looked dry and we walked through a riverbed of boulders, only to stumble upon pools of water on either side of the wadi. Wadi Shab has steep rocky cliffs on both sides, and at some points, a clearly marked path indicated the way up, while at others, you have to find the way yourself. In some places, we saw houses clinging to the steep cliffs, even small plantations with palm trees. Water for the plantations is channeled down the wadi using falaj, or irrigation channels, that are common in Oman. The sun was burning on our heads; the walls of the wadi did not protect us against the sun rays.
After passing two carcasses of small goats, we crossed a small body of water and after scrambling up the rocky terrain, realized that we had to continue walking on the other side of Wadi Shab, where we saw a clear path leading further up the wadi. An amiable young French couple accompanied us on the way up: a path that provided us great views of the emerald pools below, while also allowing for a peek further up the wadi. We crossed more small plantations, saw a few more houses, and crossed other pools, until we reached a wider part of Wadi Shab that seemed to be dry. We were supposed to find a pool through which a hidden waterfall would be the prize of our Wadi Shab expedition, but after several hours of hiking, it was clear that that pool could not be still further up the wadi. We decided to return.
At one of the emerald pools, and getting always more thirsty, we decided that we deserved a refreshing dip. We continued down, sometimes having to scramble over large boulders in the mighty Wadi Shab, and walked further down this canyon from which the sunlight was slowly retreating. When we returned to the crossing we had been to four hours before, we sat down for a break, and swam and walked upstream through shallow pools and over slippery rocks. The last pool was deep and large, and was the best for swimming. At the end, a small crack in big rocks was just wide enough to swim through - slowly, with our heads touching both sides of the crack. Once through this crevice, we reached a small pool with a waterfall: we had finally found it! The tiredness of our hike gave way to a deep feeling of satisfaction. I so much liked swimming through the narrow space that I did it several times more, before we returned to our belongings and further down the wadi. By now, the sun had disappeared altogether from the canyon, and even though we had hiked more than necessary, we still cherished the great experience of this exploration of Wadi Shab.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Wadi Shab (Oman). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Wadi Shab.
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