Wadi Shab, Oman
Wadi Shab, also known as Wadi ash Shab, is on the list of Oman’s top wadis to visit in 2019. It has been one of the most overlooked treasures of Oman as tourism mainly localized on Muscat and Salalah. However, in recent time the Ministry of Tourism has been promoting these treasures to the world.
Up to this point only locals who would pass by Nizwa would think about visitng Wadi Shab; mainly for walk through. As tourism interest is provoked by the younger generations, in relation to outsider tourism increasing, many have gone to set tours to explore Wadi Shab as the main attraction to be exploited.
Due to its proximity to Nizwa, Jebel Shams, Birkat Al Mouz and Misfat Al Abryeen, Wadi Shab has become the most popular and tour guided Wadi in Oman. Now, tours offered at Wadi Shab are adventure filled with abseiling, hiking and even swimming
Still, many Wadis in Oman still go unnoticed by tourist and locals alike.
- What is a Wadi?
- Before you go
- How to get there
- Best time to visit
- Things to do in Wadi Shab?
- Wadi Shab tour
What Is A Wadi?
Wadi is an Arabic word that is use to describes what resembles a dried up river. It is a landscape formation that looks like a valley except its dry till rain fills them up. When it is raining the Government bans citizens from going close to Wadis as they are dangerous and at times carry strong tides. Wadis sometimes form in the middle of Muscat due to the land formations on which the city is built upon.
Wadi Shab is one of the Wadis in Oman that remain filled with water for the majority of the year. Other Wadis include Wadi Qabil and Snake Gorge.
Wadi Shab Packing List
Visiting Wadi Shab requires preparation as it involves hiking, mountain climbing and swimming. For that is recommended that you prepare as such.
Wadi Shab can be visited either for a picnic or for an adventure. If you’re in it for the latter, here is what you would need for visiting Wadi Shab.
- Suitable Hiking shoes that you aren’t afraid of getting wet. Rough & uneven terrains are not suitable for everyday slippers and shoes. Water proof shoes are recommended.
- Reusable water bottle to avoid plastic waste. You will not have many opportunities to purchase water at Wadi Shab as the are remains relatively underdeveloped (hence trash cans are not available). Unless you are taking a tour, water will not be provided.
- Sunscreen. Oman is warm and sunny year round and so is Wadi Shab!
- Waterproof back pack to store your dry clothes post-adventure.
- Swim attire.
- Cash. To begin the hike you would need to pay $3 for someone to take you over the water to the starting point.
- Waterproof phone case if taking pictures.
- GoPro Hero 7 (preferable): for underwater photography
- View the full Oman packing list
Before you even decided on making the trip make sure you have insurance. Wadi Shab is an adventure filled location. Meaning you can trip, slide, drown or fall if anything unexpected was to happen.
Most importantly, no insurance will cover for accidents at Wadi Shab. The closest hospital will be a helicopter ride away in case of an injury.
That translates to a lot of money.
That is why I recommend you book the right insurance. For as little as $2.5 you can get an insurance that will cover abseiling, hiking, canyoning and all the other adventures that a regular travel insurance will not cover.
Wadi Shab Location
Wadi Shab is located in Al Sharqiyah region of Oman and is 2 hours by car from Muscat (one-way). Getting there is relatively easy. As with most destinations out of Muscat it mainly involves driving a straight line till you are within 5 km to the place.
Ideally you would use Google Maps for directions. It is a very straight forward drive to Wadi Shab passing Tiwi, another destination you might consider viewing.
Directions to Wadi Shab:
- Take Hwy 17 from Muscat towards Sur
- In 1.5 hours, you will see initial signs leading to “Wadi Shab Resort”
- Exit at the brown marked exit to”Wadi Shab
- Pass under the highway and drive South towards “Tiwi”
- You’ll pass over a bridge on the way to Tiwi that overlooks the wadi
- Make a right after the bridge and you will be at wadi shab’s parking lot
You can combine your visit to Wadi Shab by visiting Bimmah Sink hole, Tiwi or Wadi Tiwi
Make sure you have a 4×4 vehicle as that is the best way way of travel outside of Muscat. Roads will not always be paved, or suitable for sedan vehicle, when you reach your destination.
If you are ONLY visiting Wadi Shab, a 4×4 is not needed.
Weather- Best Time to Visit
As with most destinations in Oman, except Salalah, . there is no preset best time to visit. June to August are the hottest months of the year so the water sports fit right in. During Oman’s cold months of October- February, temperatures soar around the early 20’s making for an ideal outdoor weather. If you are looking into snorkeling, surfing or scuba diving, I would recommend checking the water temperature to get a better idea of what would be suitable for you.
Wadi Shab is a popular day trip destination from Muscat. Avoid visiting Wadi Shab during public holidays and weekends as it gets crowded with locals. If you are visiting on these time, dress according to local customs to avoid offending the locals. i.e.: no over revealing outfits/swimwear.
Warning: Avoid swimming in the Wadi during rain, after rain, or before rain as flash floods might occur.
Wadi Shab Adventures
Wadi Shab offers adventure and relaxation to its visitors. For locals it is a popular destination for a short hike followed by a picnic. For the younger crowd swimming through the wadi is a popular activity especially during the hotter months of the year. It is a very straightforward location for these activities.
Wadi Shab Waterfall and Hidden Cave
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, you can abseil through Wadi Shab and swim through the hidden cave to the waterfall. This requires good swimming skills.
The path there will have you walking on uneven terrain (why the shoe choice mentioned above are important) and along a narrow stream of water called falaj. The hidden cave and water fall can only be accessed through a keyhole opening between the rocks. The keyhole might be submerged during rain.
Swimming through the cave could be dangerous and there might not be anyone around to save you. It is highly advised to take this tour with a professional.
Wadi Shab For Non Swimmers
If you can not swim don’t worry, you can still visit Wadi Shab.
While taking up the hike, any body of water you encounter will only go as high as your ankle. However, when you reach the final pool that leads to the cave I suggest you take caution. The water becomes really deep and the currents are not so light either.
I recommend wearing a life jacket if you decided to continue further.
Wadi Shab Tour
Wadi Shab adventure tours are exclusively organized by local tour companies. They have existed only recently as small businesses in response to the governmental bodies push to push tourism in Oman. There is a handful of adventure tour providers that are known to Omani locals; but will greatly accommodate incoming tourist who are lucky to find them. Camel Oasis connects you with only the best tour guides know to the locals.
Wadi Shab tours are adventure oriented day trips that include private vehicle transport to and from Muscat. You will be accompanied by a tour guide who will provide you equipment for abseiling, mountain climbing, and guide you while swimming through the Wadi.
Camel Oasis connects you to experienced and well known tour operators in Oman.
Restaurants in Wadi Shab
Unfortunately you will not find any restaurants in Wadi Shab itself. The closest diners will be either at Tiwi, for mainly local food, or Sur, where American food chains like pizza hut are also available.
Hotels in Wadi Shab
Wadi Shab Resort is the only hotel available in Wadi Shab. The resort is 3 stars and offers mid range luxury on its premises.
The resort is outdated as being one of the first hotels to open in the country during the economic development of Oman. The restaurant on site is basic and the rooms are not of comparable quality to those in Muscat.
The positive of this hotel is that it offers an impeccable beach view of Tiwi. I would recommend taking a beach view room if you are to stay in the vicinity.
Other guides would suggest hotel near by at Sur or Tiwi. However, hotels in those areas aren’t any better and don’t justify the drive.
If you do not plan on sleeping at the camp site, or head over to a different city during your travel then by all means this is your go to hotel in Wadi Shab.