Oman // Sharqiya //

Wadi Shab

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South of the Bimmah Sinkhole lie the dramatic Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi, a pair of spectacularly narrow mountain ravines, hemmed in by vertiginous sandstone walls with a verdant ribbon of date plantations and banana palms threading the base of the cliffs. Driving south, Wadi Shab is the first of the two you’ll encounter, and perhaps the most rewarding. There’s no road into the wadi (unlike Wadi Tiwi) – which is a significant part of its charm – even if the entrance has now been disfigured by the concrete flyover carrying the coastal highway. In a 4WD you can negotiate the first kilometre or so over deep, loose gravel, but after this progress is on foot only, as the gorge narrows, with a small footpath running along a small rock ledge just above the wadi floor, choked with huge boulders. It’s possible to walk for another 45min–1hr up the wadi before the track becomes difficult, passing the ruins of old villages, further plantations, and deep rock pools en route – those around the end of the trail are a refreshing place for a swim, although the wadi’s popularity with local and foreign tourists means that you’re unlikely to have the place to yourself.