Wadi Shab

Useful Information

Location: Off the Muscat-Sharqiyah highway, through Tiwi village.
(22.838728, 59.245739)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: GorgeGorge
Light: n/a
Guided tours: Self guided, guides optional with day trip operators. D=2 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no, rough terrain
Address: Wadi Shab.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



Wadi Shab is the most famous of thousands of wadi in Oman. It is quite popular with tourists, and while it is possible to visit the place on your own, there is an abundance of day trips to the Wadi and the nearby Bimmah Sinkhole. You should check online for prices, which have an extreme range, and some only include the driver, while others include a guide through the gorge.

The term wadi is the name for a desert gorge, which is typically dry, because there is no rain in the desert. However, the gorge is eroded by water and this water typically forms after a rather heavy rain which may happen several times a year. Such a rain will cause a flood which fills the wadi and is very dangerous. Some say that more people drown in the desert than die of thirst. And there are huge signs warning the visitors of floods.

The wadi starts quite slow, but then a small river with light blue color and some rapids appears. It is possible to walk along the river or in the water, which is quite refreshing. When the last rain is long ago, the river falls dry, but the ponds still contain water. The gorge narrows, and there is a trail on the vertical wall which seems to be partly a natural ledge and partly constructed for the freshwater pipeline. After about 45-minute walk and swimming through two or three ponds, the visitors reach a place where the river runs through a quite narrow and twisted gorge. Rocks which fell from the walls above cover the river and create small caves. This is the official highlight of the wadi, the waterfall in a cave.

The waterfall is probably not spectacular for foreign visitors. Some would say its a rapid which is slightly higher than the rest. But the river with its rapids is an astonishing sight for the Omani. They are used to a country which has water only during exceptional rains or in deep wells, mostly artificial. A river which runs most of the year is in itself special. Crossing the water filled cave is actually a small test of courage. There is a place where the cave is too narrow above the water to pass, but the passage widens underwater. So it is necessary to cross this place underwater.