Surprisingly enough, there are dozens of Wadi’s in Oman, with the majority being accessible to the public, with Wadi Shab being one of the most popular. So, if you are wanting to find a beautiful spot to cool down and aren’t deterred by a 3km walk to and from, then here is everything you need to know about visiting.
Where is Wadi Shab?
Wadi Shab, also commonly spelt Wadi Shaab, is located in the Al Sharquiyah region in Oman. It is just under a 2-hour drive south of Muscat and a 1-hour drive north of Sur. The closest village is to Wadi Shab is Tiwi, which is also home to the Bimmah Sinkhole and a gorgeous stretch of beach.
How do I get there?
Regardless of what direction you are coming from, the best way to get to Wadi Shab is by car. You don’t need to worry about having a 4WD to get here as the parking lot is easily accessible. There are plenty of signs to Wadi Shab and it is also marked as a location on Google Maps. If you don’t have access to a car, there are multiple tour companies running tours from Muscat. This just means that you will have time restrictions and most likely be there at the busier periods.
From the car park, the whole journey to get to the end of the Wadi takes approximately an hour, depending on how many times you stop along the way.
If there has been rain recently or the water levels are high, you will need to take a little boat to the other side (1 Rial return). Once you get to the other side, there is a path which you follow which very quickly breaks into a more ‘off the beaten track’ scenario. Because there was rain the night before, we had to walk through muddy water right at the beginning, but it is usually quite dry for the first 25-30 minutes.
Eventually, you will have to walk across multiple slow flowing waterfalls in ankle deep water and then further on eventually wade through some deeper sections. After another 15 minutes (give or take) you will reach what you THINK is the end of the Wadi. A lot of people stop here, find a spot to put their bags and go winning in the pools.
If you want to go further, it is more of a swim to spot, taking an additional 10 minutes to get to the very end where the hidden cave and waterfall is. There is a small gap in the rocks that you can squeeze through or if you have goggles you can dive under. I opted out here as I had no idea on the circumstances once I would have squeezed myself through. All you can see is fast flowing water, but it has been confirmed that it is safe if you are a confident swimmer. Trust me, I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t go through because it’s meant to be absolutely stunning.
When should I go?
Wadi Shab is still more of a natural attraction than a tourist attraction. This means that it is accessible 24/7, given that the water levels aren’t too high, and you can make it to the other side when you get to the carpark. The prime time to go is early in the morning between Sunday and Thursday. If you can, it’s best to avoid the weekends (Friday & Saturday) as it can get very busy as it is the place to be when the sun is shining.
How long should I spend there?
Given it is a 45 minute – 1 hour walk one way, you will need a minimum of 3 hours to really enjoy the Wadi. We spent about 4 and a half hours in total, it just really depends on how much swimming, sunbathing and photo stopping you want to do.
Is the walk strenuous?
I honestly thought it would be a lot tougher because of what I had read online, but it was actually very tame. Given that you don’t have any knee problems, you should find it really easy. It’s all quite flat, with the only evident ‘up’ being over rocks.
What should I bring?
Reef shoes: The rocks can sometimes be a bit sharp and slippery, so reef shoes are the suggested footwear. If you don’t have any reef shoes, you can also go barefoot, but this isn’t the smartest idea for hot days. A lot of people just wore their trainers and didn’t worry about getting them wet.
Water: Shock horror, it gets hot in the desert, so make sure you bring enough water to last you. I would recommend at least 1L.
Dry Bag: A drybag is one of my staple travel items now, but it was especially helpful for adventuring up to the Wadi. If you want to go all the way to the end, it is impossible to take your belongings without one. I saw a few guys try and carry their huge duffel bag through the swimming pools and I am fairly certain it would have ended badly. I got mine from Oztrail and swear by it. They’ve got a whole lot of other cool, handy stuff for adventurers which can look at here.
Snacks: Totally optional, but let me tell you now, it’s so good to sit down and have a bite to eat after walking in the heat for an hour.
Camera: Wadi Shab is absolutely stunning, and I can guarantee you that you’ll be snapping away like there is no tomorrow.
Wadi Shab is one of the most popular attractions in Oman and I totally understand why. I highly recommend that you take the whole day to experience the area and if you have a car, make sure you stop in to Bimmah Sinkhole on the way out.
All in love in the world,