In this post I’m going to go into further detail about our visit to Wadi Shab, if you’d like to know more about our Oman itinerary then head over here.
One thing that was high on my must see list in Oman was a visit to one of their wadis. The country is know for these swimming spots which are perfect for cooling off in, during the hot summer months. As we were basing ourselves in Muscat for the majority of our time it made sense to make Wadi Shab our pick for this trip. It is relatively easy to access and from the pictures I saw it’s beautiful.
Wadi Shab is around 1 hour and 30 minutes from Muscat and the drive is straight forward along a main highway for the most part. The only spot we went wrong at was after we came off the highway so be sure to follow the directions carefully for the final part. Once you arrive you’ll be greeted with the sea to one side and the wadi to the other. Under the bridge of the highway is a car park but as we arrived at 9am all the ‘proper’ spots were taken and everyone was getting a little creative with where to park.
I’d suggest at least three hours at the wadi as a minimum, the walk will take around 40 minutes each way and then you’ll want to have a decent time in the pools to make all that walking worth while. You could obviously spend longer if you wanted to but bare in mind the only facilities are at the car park at the start of the wadi.
Once we arrived our first thing was to cross the wadi so that we were on the right side for the trail. To do this you can catch a little motorized boat run by locals. There are plenty waiting for visitors and a return ride will cost 1 Omani real, just be sure to keep hold of the ticket they give you for the return journey. The ride will only take a few minutes but from here you’ll get your first views of the huge canyon you’re about to walk through.
At the start of the trail we found we had to take what felt like a ‘makeshift’ route as the outer path was covered with mud. This ‘makeshift’ path took us through what can only be described as someone’s backyard, it was a tricky start going over small fences and walls. Once this initial stretch was done the next part was pretty straight forward, the path was easy to keep tabs on and the terrain was mostly flat with a few small climbs thrown in.
From here you’ll start to climb more and a steep cliff will build down to the wadi pools on your left side. I’d read previous to our visit that these pools were not for swimming in but as we walked back from the further away pools we found lots of people swimming in this area. Take care when walking along this part as there are several areas where you’re close to the edge with nothing to keep you safe from the drop.
Next you’ll come down lower to the water again and this is where following the path becomes a little tricky. You can’t really get lost as the canyon is fairly narrow and it all goes the same way but you could end up having to double back because the way you’ve picked isn’t accessible. For the most part the track is towards the right side of the canyon but at times it will drift over to the left side. The were a few arrows on rocks in either black or red but I found these to be hard to spot so not that reliable. I’d advise you to just take a good look at the area ahead and go in the direction that looks the easiest.
As you get further towards the pools you’ll spot the irrigation system which is a good point to follow if all else fails. During this part you’ll also have to wade through the water at one or two points so make sure you’ve got shoes on you don’t mind getting wet or you might need to remove them.
The finally stretch to the pools is very up and down with no real set path it’s up to you to pick your own way that feels do able. You’ll soon reach a point where you’ll see the pools open up with high rocks up both sides, this is the point you should get ready to go in the water.
There was plenty of space in this area to put your belongings, we chose a cave like area up to the left as this would keep everything out of the sun. Despite having a dry bag we decided to leave our belongings behind a rock and just take the Go Pro with us. There seemed to be plenty of others doing this and Oman, like Dubai, is known as a very safe country so you knew your belongings would be safe. I left my phone, car keys and money in my bag and everything was there when we returned.
So you’ve made it to the pools, what next? Well don’t just hang around where you go in, go forward and explore. There are three pools in total and the further you go the better they get (and less busy). They each vary greatly in depth, some parts you’ll be swimming with no reach of the bottom and other parts it will barely be coming above your knees. They are also very stoney so I’d highly recommend some kind of swimming shoes if you want to enjoy moving between the pools. We decided to keep our socks on because of this and although it helped a little it didn’t stop the uncomfortable steps. Each pools curves and bends so you can’t see too far in front or behind you which I think helps to make it more interesting.
The first pool is where a lot of people hang around so this area is busy. It has several deeper areas as well as many shallow sections so is good if you aren’t much of a swimmer. Pool two is accessed by a small watery walkway and again is a mix of shallow and deep parts. There are no real features of this part but it was super quiet in these pools. Next you’ll come to a small waterfall which you’ll need to climb up to access the third pools. This is where things start to get deeper and I wouldn’t recommend going further if you’re not a great swimmer unless you’ve got a life jacket on. From the third pool keep swimming all the way to the end and you’ll find a secret cave.
To enter you’ll need to be okay with small spaces as the entrance is tiny! I mean just big enough for your head kind of size above water, however, below water is larger. Once you’ve shuffled through you’ll find an awesome cave with a waterfall. Inside here there is nowhere shallow so you’ll need to tread water or grip onto the side with your finger tips. Some people had managed to scale the sides of the cliff to perform crazy jumps.
What You’ll Need
As we visited in summer our number one supply for this trip was water. We took two liters with us and that was about the right amount for the boiling hot summer’s day but we also didn’t stay for hours. I’d also recommend a few snacks, sun cream and a hat. If you went in the cooler months you may want to take a picnic with you so you could make a day of it.
To protect your feet you may also want some water shoes for when you go swimming. A waterproof camera or waterproof case for your phone would also be a bonus.
There was a little van in the car park serving cold drinks and limited food for once you’ve finished your trip.
Hopefully that gives you an idea of how to visit Wadi Shab. If you have any question just ask away in the comments below.