Wadi Shab – Tiwi, Oman

The term, wadi, is thrown around a lot in the Middle East, and it does not take long to figure out that it just means canyon. There are thousands of wadis all over the Middle East, and if you find the better ones, you will discover an amazing hike that will take you to some really cool places. One of the better ones, called Wadi Shab, is located outside of the small town of Tiwi in Oman.

It is located right off of the highway, and there are plenty of signs that will point you the right direction. The hike is absolutely beautiful, and there are dramatic views of mountains on either side of the path, but this is not the reason to make it out this way.

A river helped to carve out this valley, and as you hike through the canyon, it is always on either side of you. Sometimes it is nothing more than a stream; whereas at other points along the way, you will find that you can jump off cliff faces into deep pools, or just go out wading into the cool water that is so refreshing on a hot, desert day.

At the very end of the canyon, you do have to take off your hiking boots, and dip in the water if you wish to make it the whole way. There is a cave at the end that boasts about an underground waterfall, and this is the final destination of many of the people who make it out this way. It is an amazing sight, but it is also fun to swim in the water, and let the tiny fish pick off the dead skin from your legs. If you do make it out this far, I would recommend that you bring with you some water shoes because there are a lot of rocks that you will walk on, and bring a snack as well because it takes a good hour to make it out to this pond. You will also probably spend an hour or two at the pond itself, so the whole day will take about four hours total.

I also recommend getting there early in the day. It is a couple hours drive from Muscat, but less than an hour from Sur, and it is a great day trip if you find yourself in the later town. You also can’t just start hiking on the trail. You have to take a short, and I do mean short, boat ride from the welcoming center to the start of the hike. It does cost one Omani Rial per person, and they do stop running the boat around five or six at night. That means if you do not make it back in time, you could be stuck in the wadi during the night. Some people do come out to camp here, but you would want to plan for that and not be surprised about that choice when you find yourself on the wrong side of the river at the wrong time.

It is a great place out of many to visit while in Oman, and should be added to everybody’s itinerary. It is a great way to spend a day out in the desert, and the sights and adventures had along the way will not be quickly forgotten.

My First Attempt – Siam Summer

A view of the big Buddha from the distance. He is looking out to the east in this picture.

There is a big hill right out of our hotel room, and sitting on top of that hill is a really big Buddha. It has been my intention to climb up that mountain and visit this site, and I got up early this morning to make the attempt before it got to hot and humid outside.

The view from the top of the hill that took us out of the neighborhood that we had to walk up to get to the trailhead to the top of the mountain

It does require a little bit of effort to make it up that hill even though at first it does not seem like it would be that difficult, but things started to get steep within the first kilometer.

The path was still paved here, but it was only a short time later where it turned into a muddy dirt path.

As soon as we made it out of the housing district and left behind all forms of civilization, the road got even more steep and started to fall apart. The recent rains had turned the path into a slippery mud which made the trek even more dangerous.

I actually caught a picture of one of the many bugs that swarmed around us on the hike. It is in the upper left corner of the picture.

We made it about a mile away from the Buddha before things got a little too difficult and we had to turn around and head back down the hill. If we had plugged on, could we have made it to the top? Yes, it was difficult, but it was not impossible. What would have been the consequences if we had done that? Well, one of us has issues with their ankle and having to hike up the hill using mainly our toes due to the steepness was not doing them any good. If we had continued, there was a good possibility that it was have strained the ankles and caused one of us to spend the rest of our vacation on a couch with our foot up in the air. So is there any shame that we turned back, and chalked it up to one of our failed attempts? Not at all. We learned a lot from the experience, and were still able to see some pretty spectacular views from the height that we had made it to. Too often, people push themselves into something that they should not, and it causes them harm, preventing them from enjoying other experiences in life. There are some that even push so hard that it causes injury and death to those around them. Sometimes it is just better to recognize our limitations and live within them.

A discarded teak wood spirit house left on the side of the road right before the turn off to the mud path up to the big Buddha

It does not mean that you can’t go back again on another day to make the attempt again. This is probably what I will end up doing tomorrow. I really want to see the Buddha on top of that hill, and I know I can make it. But I want to make sure that I am not putting anybody else at risk or leaving them some place where they would be uncomfortable until my return.

Apparently, this is the place where all old spirit house are sent for them to die

So tomorrow, I will get up to try attempt number two, and hopefully I can bring you some amazing picture from the view from the top. Please tune into tomorrow to see if my attempt this time around is successful.