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The Wonders of Wadi Shab

Palms at the entrance to Wadi Shab; not the sunniest of days, but thankfully not the hottest either

I'd been saving this one for for a while; for a time when I had visitors, for a time when the air was cooler to do the walk comfortably and for a time when it would be quieter. So with my family visiting from the UK, my better-half in tow (not literally), cool air, a little bit of sunshine and after the Omani weekend, we headed for Wadi Shab.

We were greeted by a young Omani, sitting in the shade by his boat, waiting for the next ride to turn up at his little harbour (mud bank). He cheerily ferried us across the pools at the entrance to Shab. The other option was to wade across ourselves, and at 200 baiza per person to keep dry, it was a no brainier! Later on in the day, we watched a seasoned veteran wade across the pool, which turned out to be about thigh deep if you took the right route.

Even the pack donkeys still make the trip down the wadi from the village up high

The walk up Wadi Shab took us past the changing dry wadi bed, to aquamarine coloured pools where the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championships had taken place about a month earlier. You could make out where the divers had jumped from… but we were quite happy slipping into the pools from zero height. The path runs along the edge of the cliff, just above the pools, where you can gaze directly down into the depths and the changing colours through the water as it gets deeper and deeper.

The first pools of Wadi Shab

As the path snakes around the right bank, there are views up to the cliff faces above

Eventually, we found the falaj that was feeding a mid-wadi oasis at the edge of the river bed. A few terraces were basking in the late-morning sunlight and adding a bit of life to an otherwise rocky terrain at this point.

We arrived at what we had been told was the best spot, and there were only a few other people around, so after some lunch, we started to wade through the stream towards the deeper pools. The first few pools were shallow, but deep enough that we had to swim through. Then around the next corner of this narrow ravine was a boulder blocking the route any further. As we swam closer, we could see a gap below the boulder about 12 inches wide, just enough to squeeze your head through. Below the surface, there was plenty of room to swim as the rock widened considerably, it was just this narrow squeeze above the surface through 5 feet of rock that then led us into a cavern. From above, a waterfall splashed down into the pools, which were reflecting the sunshine and creating a luminescent glow below the surface. Wow – now I understood the appeal of Wadi Shab. After a little explore of the cavern, we passed back through the narrow squeeze and back out into the open world to follow the waters down through the wadi.

My only regret is not having a waterproof camera to take through to the cavern, and something that I will have to think about for my next trip to Shab because there will definitely be one!

One of the luminescent pools scattered across Wadi Shab


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