We knew that Wadi Shab tends to become more crowded as the day progresses, so we decided to leave Muscat by 7am. After about 30 minutes of driving through the various suburbs of Muscat we enjoyed the views of the rugged coastal hills for the next 1.5 hours. Our timing was fortuitous, as we stopped for breakfast at Bimmah Sinkhole just after they opened the gates at 9am. We had the park to ourselves, and so we enjoyed the calls of the desert birds with a view of the sinkhole as we ate our breakfast.
After another 30 minutes we reached Wadi Shab and parked under the highway overpass. There are several boats that take you on the 30 second trip to other side of the pond for 1 rial each. At least you only have to pay once!
You could swim but why bother?
From the drop off point we started the hike into the canyon along the waterway. Near the entrance are small walled gardens, followed by some rock hopping and a more explicit trail that took us along the cliffside.
Leandra still mostly covered even on a hot hike!
Even in the morning we were thankful for SPF and pockets of shade (as were these donkeys).
After about 45 minutes we reached a wider part of the canyon with a water spilling over a rock face.
Leandra hiked up the shaded side, and I hiked up the sunny side. Wow, it was hot! The trail continued up the canyon for some time, but well above the creek without an easy path down. Eventually I turned back around having earned a dip under the waterfall.
There is a third option from the waterfall area where you could wade/swim up the creek to a small cavern, but we weren’t too interested. Instead, we turned around, and the hike back was uneventful.
Just a few miles up the road is Wadi Tiwi, which has a paved road. We drove partway in and noticed lots of red pillars that are used as warnings for water depth measurements – this road must be fun after it rains!
On the way back to Muscat we took a detour near Fins to check out White Beach. Leandra was a little suspicious of the two mile dirt road, but our little rental car did just fine. Only a few other cars were there, including one that appeared to have set up a tent site and was diving off the beach. Lots of rocks and interesting shells lined the beach and we enjoyed looking for fun colors.
We also managed to capture this nearby scene of a few goats attempting to reach the tastiest part of the desert bushes.
We stopped one more time on the way back to get some photos of the amazing hills south of Muscat. I may have climbed one of those hills for a better view too…
Tired and dusty, we continued the drive back, eventually rewarding ourselves with a chocolate (me) and a banana (Leandra) milkshake by the beach. I don’t think they lasted more than 5 minutes! A dip in the hotel hot tub was our second reward for a nice day of exploring.