Wander wadis and waterholesOman
In many minds Oman is synonymous with endless, arid landscapes and fluted, rose gold sand dunes. But this Arabian nation, which is four times bigger than neighbour UAE, not only features more than 2000 kilometres of coastline, but also a bounty of hidden waterholes to boot.
Wadi Shab is one such dreamlike spot. Bathe in Tiffany-blue waters in the upper reaches of this “gorge between cliffs”, as the name translates. Trek in dry heat to waterfalls rushing in secret caverns. And wander rugged, rocky paths in search of kingfishers perched on palm fronds and pops of pink from oleanders in bloom.
The coast road that leads to Wadi Shab is speckled with fishing villages built upon crescents of sand, and numerous other wadis nestled into the hinterland. Wadi Bani Khalid is arguably Oman’s most celebrated natural pool. After ascending through the Eastern Hajar Mountains, Wadi Bani Khalid spills out in front of the eye like a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-induced mirage. If the shamrock-green water doesn’t beckon (though it most likely will) then there’s plenty of waterside space to idle away the afternoon with a picnic.
Lesser-known cousin Wadi Tiwi is just as much of a scene-stealer, and not only for its crystalline swimming holes: Tiwi is also known as the Wadi of Nine Villages, which offer an abundance of great village-to-village walking trails. The area also boasts aflaj – ancient irrigation channels dating as far back as 500 AD, some of which are even UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites.
- Cooling down from the desert heat in clear as day waters
- Living like a local – Omanis often come to swim and socialise at the wadis on weekends
- Some trekking is often involved to reach these hidden waterholes
- Not every wadi is swimmable – it pays to have a guide to show you the ropes
- They’re not always easy to find, so come prepared with plenty of patience
Visit numerous hidden wadis on some of Swagman’s Oman tours.