Thursday, March 30, 2023

8 superb wadis in Oman + ideas for visiting

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Oman is a rustic of unimaginable and contrasting landscapes, from majestic desert dunes and towering mountains to lush valleys zigzagging right down to the wildlife wealthy shoreline. It’s vacation spot stuffed with surprises. However it’s the wadis in Oman which have stollen our hearts and have change into fairly an obsession.

Formed by the drive of nature over millennia, every wadi comes with its personal distinctive character, challenges and highlights.

Some wadis are accessible and family-friendly, whereas others current the chance for actual journey. 

On this information to wadis in Oman I’m sharing the locations we now have visited with our youngsters, and with and with out our household canine. All the photographs are my very own. 

I hope it provides you some inspiration and helpful info to your personal adventures in Oman.

What’s a wadi?

A view from the top of Wadi Bani Habib looking back towards the abandoned village through a rocky and surprisingly green landscape. The mountain valley is covered in plants and trees
Wadi Bani Habib

For those who’re new to journey in Oman and the Center East I wouldn’t blame you for questioning ‘what’s a wadi?’.

Earlier than transferring right here I don’t suppose I actually appreciated what they have been.

‘Wadi’ comes from the Arabic phrase ‘wādī‎’ which suggests valley. 

They arrive in all sizes and shapes, however primarily they’re a valley that may flood. 

Wadis can have rivers operating by way of them making them a lush oasis within the rocky panorama all yr spherical. And they are often dry river beds or gullies that solely flood through the wet season.

They’ll have caves, dams, unimaginable geology and sizzling springs. 

A long shot of the viaduct over the wadi entrance should the wadi valley walls behind along with the car park and cafe at the back
Wadi Shab

Wadis can begin their life as deep canyons excessive within the mountains and find yourself as shallow shops into the ocean.

Each time we drive by way of Oman’s capital, Muscat, we cross a number of bridges over dry wadis within the latter phases of their meandering journey.

Father and two daughters walk along the side of an irrigation system with palm trees down one side
Wadi Bani Khalid

The wettest wadis have irrigation channels or ‘falaj’ tapping the water supply to be used in native villages and tiered plantations the place you will discover fruit timber and different crops rising.

Visiting wadis in Oman is in style with locals and vacationers alike. They’re a enjoyable place to picnic, swim and hike. They’re most busy on the weekends, so go to within the working week (Sunday to Thursday) if you wish to expertise their pure magnificence with out crowds.

Having mentioned that, some wadis are far more in style and well-known than others.

What number of wadis are in Oman?

Our camping spot in the valley below Dayqah Dam. A river of clear water flows below a cliff. Our tent is pitched in front of the water
Wadi Dayqah

There are numerous wadis in Oman.

The bulk are within the north of the Sultanate as a result of Hajar Mountain vary from which lots of of valleys stretch out to the Gulf of Oman and inland throughout the central plateau of the A’Dakhiliya Governorate.

Within the south of the nation, Dhofar is dwelling to a few of Oman’s most dramatic wadis which flip into lush oases through the monsoon season right here.

What number of wadis are you able to go to in a day?

Family walk along rocky path above the first pool of turquoise water
Wadi Shab

There’s no definitive reply to this query as a result of, as I’ve already talked about, wadis are available in all sizes and shapes. We’ve spent between an hour and 6 hours at totally different wadis.

What number of wadis you’ll be able to go to in a day additionally is determined by the place you might be travelling from.

I’ve seen it steered that you may go to Wadi Bani Khalid in the identical day as Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi. This may be doable should you have been staying in Sur however it might be very rushed. You’d definitely not be capable to hike and swim at all of them, which is how you actually expertise these lovely locations.

And if you’re primarily based in Muscat, bagging these three well-known Oman wadis in sooner or later would contain a minimum of eight hours of driving with out stepping outdoors your automobile. So I’d not advocate it.

Learn how one can match all three of those should go to Oman wadis right into a seven or ten day highway journey.

Wadis in Oman

We now have now visited a wide selection of wadis, from little-known locations that we’ve heard about from different expats to Oman’s most well-known vacationer spots.

Beneath is a listing of the superb wadis in Oman that we now have been to. I’ve included variations on their names as you’ll spot these spelt in a different way on Google maps and highway indicators.

Scroll to the underside of the listing to discover a map displaying their places in Oman. I’ll be including to it as we discover extra.

1. Wadi Al Khoud

Girl paddling in stream of shallow water flowing over shingle in Wadi Al Khoud

This was the primary Oman wadi we visited and was an easy introduction to wadi bashing.

The place to begin for a hike at Wadi Al Khoud is lower than half an hour from the centre of Muscat. There’s a parking lot at Al Khoud Village.

The wadi hike stretches inland on for about 20km to the village of Fanja and may be pushed although with a 4×4.

It’s a very straightforward wadi to go to with kids as there are shallow, shingle-filled rivers and swimming pools the place they’ll splash near the automobile park. 

If you would like an extended hike there’s a 6km trial marked from the village.

2. Wadi Bani Habib

View into the valley of Wadi Bani Habib which contains one of Oman's abandoned villages. You can see a collection of mud buildings in the distance

Wadi Bani Habib was our first expertise of Oman’s mysterious deserted villages within the Hajar Mountain vary.

This one is on Jabal Akhdar, also called the Inexperienced Mountain due to its lush panorama.

Bani Habib’s assortment of crumbling mud dwellings clings to each side of the valley the place walnut and pomegranate timber develop. 

From a really small automobile park on the high of the valley you descend a zigzag stair case to the wadi ground and observe a falaj by way of a plantation to the beginning of the outdated village.

It’s fairly a problem sticking to the inexperienced approach markers that information you across the ruins however completely price it.

Wadi Bani Habib was inhabited till the Nineteen Eighties when the lure of mains companies proved too enticing to the villagers. Since then it has change into a vacationer attraction and is usually secure to discover. It’s not maintained as such, so the mud buildings are slowly crumbling and the paths are steep and rocky. 

Mr Tin Box and daughter stand at the top of a rocky path through the abandoned village of Wadi Bani Habib

It’s finest to not step inside any of the constructions as there’s a threat you’ll fall by way of a ground or one thing will fall on you.

Past the village you’ll be able to proceed up the valley for extra mountain views and loop again round to discover the buildings on the alternative aspect.

There have been no wadi swimming pools within the valley once we visited in December regardless of current rains.

3. Wadi Dayqah or Wadi Dhayqah

Cirrocumulus cloud formation reflected on the calm water in a pool at Wadi Dayqah Dam

This lovely spot in Wadi Dayqah was the primary locations we went wild tenting in Oman. 

Lots of people go to the Wadi Dayqah dam and reservoir south west of the place we camped. The captured lake covers an space of 350 hectares. It’s the largest reservoir in Oman and a well-liked view level, notably at sundown.

We didn’t go to the dam however settled for an evening within the valley under the place you’ll be able to hike and camp beside a river of turquoise water that slowly weaves its approach in direction of the city of Qurayyat. 

There are wadi swimming pools stuffed with fish under folded cliffs and plenty of shady spots. This makes it an excellent place for tenting as you’ll be able to escape the noon solar.

Right here’s the place to exit the tarmac highway to park and begin your hike or proceed driving into the wadi:

A 4×4 is important for driving into the wadi as you will have to navigate rocky off highway tracks and water crossings.

4. Wadi Shab or Wadi Ash Shab

Father and daughter stood in a dry valley with cliffs towering above them on either side.

That is probably the most well-known wadi on the highway from Muscat to Sur and is nicely price a go to. 

Wadi Shab stretches out to the Gulf of Oman from Jebel Khadar within the south east of the Hajar Mountain vary.

I’ll admit that I used to be a bit sceptical about it and the way simply we may go to with our youngsters as we’d heard you’ll be able to solely see all of it should you swim fairly a distance.

We made positive we got here ready with buoyancy aids and we left our canine at dwelling. She likes to swim, simply not with us! We did see one other household carry their small canine to this wadi. It regarded like they’re carrying it a lot of the approach.

Visiting Wadi Shab begins with a ship journey throughout the wadi entrance to a path on the opposite aspect of the the canyon. The journey prices 1 OMR per particular person, though we paid 0.5 OMR every for the children.

You possibly can go to the wadi and stroll alongside a rocky path over the primary pool with out getting moist. Swimming just isn’t allowed right here.

After about an hour hike you attain the primary swimming pools the place you’ll be able to swim. It isn’t doable to progress additional and see the remainder of the wadi with out getting moist.

A pool of turquoise water that looks very deep with towering cliff walls on either side

On the very finish of the swim there’s a hidden cave the place you’ll be able to climb a rope to leap again down into the pool.

Discover extra ideas for visiting in my information to Wadi Shab.

5. Wadi Tiwi

A beautiful view of the wadi pool with lush green canyon walls covered in palms on either side. Mr Tin Box is a small spec floating in the water

Wadi Tiwi is a shocking 36km canyon an hour and a half south of Muscat on the highway to Sur. It’s not as nicely often called neighbouring Wadi Shab however it’s simply as beautiful.

You possibly can drive 10km into the wadi on a cement highway peppered with inexperienced plantations that break up the rocky panorama and towering cliffs. You may also park on the wadi entrance and hike however this isn’t for the faint hearted because the route is uncovered and steep in locations.

The highway winds up although the valley, passing by way of slim villages and over sheer drops till you attain Mabim Village. That is the place from which to descend into the canyon to see probably the most lovely swimming pools and waterfalls.

Clear turquoise water of Wadi Tiwi with rocky canyon walls rising on either side

We skipped the lengthy hike and used native guides at Mabim to assist us attain the swimming pools. You may also take a less complicated route down a protracted set of steps on the far finish of the village. I’d advocate doing this if you’re visiting with younger kids.

I’ve written about each the guided and self-guided choices in my put up about visiting Wadi Tiwi with our youngsters and canine.

6. Wadi Bani Khalid

View of the first pool at Wadi Bani Khalid with a bridge and canopy in the foreground. The wadi water looks clear and inviting. The sand coloured valley wall rises in the background

Wadi Bani Khalid is probably the most accessible and probably the most industrial wadi we now have visited. 

There’s cellular bathrooms and cafe within the automobile park and a restaurant beside the primary giant pool. You’ll want to get right here early, ideally earlier than 10am to get a parking spot as that is when the guided excursions begin to arrive.

Mr Tin Field and our women swam up and down the size of the wadi whereas I walked alongside with our canine. 

One kilometre into the wadi is an incredible cave to discover.

Family slithering into the low mouth of Cave Muqal at Wadi Bani Khalid
The doorway to Muqal Cave

The slim entrance to Muqal Cave provides method to small after which bigger chambers the place bats dangle from the honeycomb roof. 

As we moved deeper we have been hit by partitions of sizzling air and the dashing noise of water additional in. This sizzling spring feeds the swimming pools of the wadi making them deliciously heat.

Learn our full information to visiting Wadi Bani Khalid.

7. Wadi Damm or Wadi Dham 

Mr Tin Box cannonballs into a wadi pool at the centre of a rocky valley

We visited Wadi Damm on the very starting of a seven day highway journey and it was an enormous spotlight for us. Try our Oman itinerary in full.

In addition to a difficult hike with unimaginable swimming pools, you’ll be able to see superb petroglyphs – historic paintings – scratched into the rock of the wadi partitions within the parking space.

The rock artwork reveals outlines of individuals, horses and camels.

Petroglyths - an ancient rock art showing outlines of people, horses and camels - sketched onto the valley wall at Wadi Damm

We spent six hours slowly strolling to the primary wadi swimming pools and waterfalls, swimming in different magnificent lagoons and lunching in a cave on the way in which. 

The trail by way of the wadi just isn’t very clear so we did some back-tracking to search out the very best route for the children and canine. For those who’re tackling this wadi as a gaggle of adults you’ll most likely progress a lot quicker.

From the automobile park you stroll into the valley and up a small set of steps over the dam. We adopted our noses from right here as there are not any approach markers. We needed to slide down rock faces on our bottoms and scramble over rocks to achieve the primary two swimming pools. 

These have been nice for swimming and we’d not have been dissatisfied if our journey stopped right here. Nonetheless it’s doable to progress by climbing a rope by way of a slim hole or up a waterfall. 

We pushed our women up by way of the hole however I didn’t fancy it myself. We’d heard there was another path above the  first swimming pools so again tracked and located this.

After much more scrambling and sliding we discovered one other set of swimming pools that have been like one thing out of a film.

Water cascading over fern and rock into a turquoise pool in Wadi Damm
The higher pool and waterfalls at wadi Damm

Water cascades over fern lined boulders to create heat showers that stream into turquoise lagoons.

For those who go to Wadi Damm with younger kids the primary set of swimming pools past the dam are the very best place to cease.

8. Wadi Hammam – an wadi in Oman with sizzling spring

Steaming hot spring water flows through irrigation channel in rocky wadi valley

For those who’re in search of a wadi close to Muscat then Wadi Hammam is 25 minutes from the town centre. You’ll not discover swimming pools for swimming right here however there’s a fascinating sizzling spring, which is regarded as the most well liked in Oman.

Warning: don’t contact or enter the recent spring water whenever you discover it. There’s a threat of getting burnt.

We parked within the village of Ain Al Hamam and adopted the falaj system that we now have change into accustomed to right here in Oman. Nonetheless, fairly than cool wadi water it was channeling steaming sizzling spring water to a few bathtub homes within the village.

The supply of the spring is hid in some buildings beside the highway into Ain Al Hamam about 500m away from the village.

You possibly can cross this highway and might proceed a hike up the wadi. The valley is slim and its essential to climb over numerous boulders to progress.

Girl sat on boulder in a rocky valley with cliffs rising on either side

We didn’t get far on the day we visited because it was extremely popular. Wadi Hammam can’t declare the title of being probably the most lovely wadi in Oman however it’s straightforward to get to and the recent spring is intriguing. 

The place to search out these Oman wadis

Right here’s the place to search out these wadis and my steered beginning factors for visiting them:

Extra useful issues to find out about wadis in Oman and visiting them 

We’ve learnt there’s much more to visiting Oman’s wadis than rocking up for journey. 

You’ll want to do a little bit of planning forward. Right here’s among the ideas we’ve picked up:

When is it finest to go to a wadi?

Reflections on a lake of water caught being the dam at Wadi Damm. A child walks along the rocky path to the right and tall cliffs climb up either side of the shot. There are airplane trails in the blue sky
Wadi Damm

The very best time of yr to go to wadis in Oman is between November and April when the climate just isn’t too sizzling.

You’re additionally more likely to discover extra water within the wadi swimming pools within the north of the Sultanate in these winter months.

Ask any Omani when is the very best time of yr to go to the wadis within the south of Oman and they’re going to say it’s between June and August. That is monsoon season when the wadis round Salalah flip into inexperienced oases.

Nonetheless, it is rather moist, so should you’d desire dryer climate go to between September and February when additionally it is much less busy with holidaymakers from the Arabian Peninsular.

We discover the very best time of day to go to wadis is initially of the day. That is earlier than it will get extremely popular and you’ve got an opportunity of beating the crowds should you go to on a weekend (Friday to Saturday).

Nonetheless, I do know some individuals prefer to see these lovely locations later within the day or at sundown when the ‘golden hour’ mild is superb.

If this sounds such as you, I’d simply share a phrase of warning about staying past dusk except you propose to camp. It may be laborious to navigate rocky paths and wadi roads at midnight.

If you’re visiting Wadi Shab you might be additionally at risk of lacking the final ferry again to the automobile park should you linger past 5pm.

Wadi security 

Visiting wadis is among the hottest issues to do in Oman however they don’t include security options you may anticipate at pure points of interest within the UK and Europe. 

You’re chargeable for your personal well being and security.

Right here’s some ideas for wadi security:

Be cautious round deserted buildings

A view through the wooden framed doorway of a mud house in the abandoned village of Wadi Bani Habib. A wall has crumbled and there is debris on the floor
Wdi Bani Habib

For those who go to one in every of Oman’s deserted villages you’ll discover it very straightforward to step inside and discover.

However this doesn’t imply these constructions are secure. Within the UK related locations could be boarded up and fenced off.

Watch out, particularly if you’re visiting with curious children.

Keep away from visiting after rain

Sure, it rains in Oman. And when it does it may be torrential, which has a critical affect on roads and infrastructure in what is principally a dry nation. 

For those who’re from England, suppose ‘snow day’ chaos.

Importantly, do to not go to wadis instantly after it has rained as flash flooding could make them extraordinarily harmful.

Swimming in wadis

Father and two daughters swim in the clear waters of Wadi Bani Khalid with the rocks walls of the valley rising up behind them
Wadi Bani Khalid

It’s doable to swim in some wadis when the situations are proper. That is one in every of our favorite issues to do at wadis. However it’s not all the time doable or secure.

Relying on whether or not there was rain just lately you may additionally discover wadi swimming pools are too shallow or have dried up altogether. Take a look at water depth earlier than leaping!

Whenever you do go to a wadi the place there’s sufficient water to swim its advisable to put on a buoyancy assist. You possibly can shortly get out of your depth in pure swimming pools, which may be harmful even for robust swimmers. 

Check out my listing of what to put on and different issues to carry with you for extra wadi security ideas.

What to put on at wadis in Oman

Oman is a Muslim nation the place dressing conservatively is a authorized requirement. Basically you need to put on garments that cowl higher arms and knees.

Swimwear must also be conservative. You might look sizzling in a bikini or thong, however locals might be offended by the sight of an excessive amount of flesh.

If, like us, you journey to expertise totally different locations and cultures with out eager to upset anybody, right here’s some recommendations on what to put on at wadis in Oman:

For girl

I put on a brief sleeve t-shirt, cropped strolling/yoga leggings or mild strolling trousers and strolling sneakers that I can use in water. Strolling sandals would additionally work however I desire footwear with closed toes for mountain climbing on rocky trails. 

This type of outfit meets native clothes expectations in addition to being snug for what can usually be fairly strenuous exercise.

Claire wearing a shirt over hiking gear stood in the doorway for a mud building in an abandoned village. The building has seen better days
Mountain wadi apparel

For those who’re within the Hajar Mountains in December or January you’re going to want lengthy sleeves too as a result of it’s a lot cooler at altitude. We acquired caught out throughout our first go to to Jabal Akhdar once we’d wished we’d introduced jumpers.

In the case of the swimming I’d advocate rash vests with brief sleeves* and swim shorts*. These may be worn beneath different clothes and assist to guard you towards the solar.

I’ve additionally swum in my exercise leggings and a t-shirt however attempt to keep away from this if there’s a protracted stroll again to our automobile.

Hats and scarves (they make versatile cowl ups) are additionally non-obligatory gadgets you may wish to carry.

For males

Mr Tin Field wears a t-shirt, lengthy shorts or mild strolling trousers once we are at wadis.

He doesn’t all the time cowl his knees, notably at wadis which are extra touristy like Shab and Bani Khalid, however this appears to be much less of a problem for males throughout outside exercise. 

Nonetheless, brief shorts and speedos would elevate some eyebrows.

Once more, rash vests* and swim shorts* are extra consistent with native clothes expectations when swimming.

Mr Tin Box and daughters stand beside the water in Wadi Damm wearing conservative swim wear. The girls wear buoyancy aids

For youths

What children put on at wadis doesn’t matter as a lot because it does for adults. Nonetheless, for sensible causes within the sizzling, sunny climate we often put our women brief or long-sleeve t-shirts and leggings.

They’ve KEEN strolling sandals* which they’ll proceed to put on within the water to present them some further grip and shield their toes. We’ve additionally purchased Croc water sneakers for after they want closed toes.

For swimming they’ve lengthy sleeve swim fits that shield them from the solar.

Buoyancy aids

Mr Tin Box and daughters standing knee deep in the clear waters of Wadi Bani Khalid with large boulders towering above them

Your well being and security is your personal duty whichever wadi you go to. This is the reason we began bringing alongside buoyancy aids to each wadi the place we intend to swim.

Accidents can occur shortly, notably slip ups. So should you fall over in water it’s a lot better that you simply float.

We introduced one of many children’ buoyancy aids with us from the UK and purchased one other at Decathlon within the Mall of Oman in Muscat the place additionally they promote grownup buoyancy aids.

Different issues to take to a wadi

Family with dog walking toward the dam at Wadi Damm. There are tall cliffs on either side

After visiting a number of wadis in Oman we’ve put collectively a listing of steered issues to take alongside.

We’ve kicked ourselves a couple of occasions for forgetting apparent issues and gadgets that make the expertise a lot simpler. However I believe we’ve now acquired the definitive listing.

For those who don’t have already got a few of these important gadgets we’ve discovered the next outlets good for outside gear:

  • The Sultan Centre, varied places in Muscat
  • Decathlon within the Mall of Oman in Muscat
  • Solar and Sand Sport in Avenues Mall, the Mall of Oman and Metropolis Centre Mall in Muscat. There’s additionally an outlet store in Markaz Al Bahja.

I’ve additionally included hyperlinks under the place you’ll be able to order this stuff on-line should you’re in a position to plan far sufficient forward.

Listed here are some wadi staples to carry with you:

Dry bag

Mr Tin Box wades into the first turquoise pool in Wadi Shab.
Image of our bag in use at Wadi Shab for illustrative functions

We now have a rucksack that’s additionally a dry bag. We picked this up at a Sultan Centre store in Muscat and we take it with us all over the place now.

It’s straightforward to hold and large enough for a lightweight towel, some snacks and water, goggles for the children, and a primary assist equipment. It additionally doubles as a helpful flotation machine. We use it when paddle boarding too.

You possibly can purchase it on-line*.


Carry a microfibre towel*. It’s a good suggestion to dry off a bit whenever you depart the swimming pools so you might be much less more likely to slip on the way in which again to the wadi entrance.

You want one thing small that gained’t retain numerous water and change into heavy.

Solar glasses

There’s numerous shade to be discovered within the wadi however not on a regular basis so shield your eyes with good sun shades.

Solar cream

For precisely the identical causes as you want sun shades, put on issue 50 solar cream in your face and physique. Even within the shade you’ll be choosing up rays.


I’m not a fan of placing my face within the water deliberately however my children adore it. Goggles enable them a unique perspective on wadis so we all the time carry theirs.

Change of garments

In case you get your garments moist or soiled depart a spare set in your automobile.

Snacks and water

The place would us dad and mom be with out snacks for the children?! Our go to snacks for mountain climbing journeys are apples and small packets of biscuits, which we are able to simply slip into our rucksack.

We regularly pack a picnic too because it means we are able to get meals into the children quick once we get again to the automobile. A cool field and ice blocks are useful for holding meals contemporary in a sizzling automobile.


You’re going to want a number of water, however gained’t essentially wish to carry all of it with you.

Make certain everybody has a small bottle of water for the hike and depart some chilling in your automobile.


I don’t go wherever in Oman with out a packet tissues. You by no means know if public bathrooms could have any, particularly in additional rural areas the place squat bathrooms and bum weapons (hoses by the john) are the norm.

First assist equipment

One thing else we not often journey with out is our small first assist equipment. This has plasters, together with Compeeds, bug chew cream and Panadol (paracetamol). That is what we feature with us.

We now have one other first assist equipment* together with bandages in our automobile.

Head torch – non-obligatory

For those who’re visiting a wadi with a cave, like Wadi Bani Khalid, it’s a good suggestion to carry a head torch* that can assist you discover.

Extra studying about Oman

Claire, daughter and dog at on orange dunes during sunset at Wahiba Sands in Oman

We moved to Oman in 2022 and are loving attending to know our new dwelling.

Right here’s some extra posts I’ve written about Oman and expat life:

Try the #TinBoxOman hashtag on Instagram to see extra of our adventures.

Have you ever visited any wadis in Oman? We’d love to listen to your suggestions on the place we should always go to subsequent.

Disclosure: this put up accommodates affiliate hyperlinks marked with *. For those who click on on one in every of these and make a purchase order I could earn some fee. This doesn’t have an effect on the worth you pay.

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