Oman tourism: A trip to Wadi Shab

Lifestyle Tuesday 12/July/2016 16:17 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman tourism: A trip to Wadi Shab

Sur is an ideal destination for tourists and residents alike for being home to the most intriguing tourist spots in Oman. Pristine beaches, monumental cliffs, traditional markets and places of heritage and culture, the city reflects Oman’s natural beauty and culture. One such iconic tourist spot located a few miles before Sur, is Wadi Shab. We capture the action by paying a visit to the most famous wadi in Oman.

Oman happens to be one of the few countries in the world which offer a contrasting range of scenic beauty, from high rise mountains to the endless shoreline at such close proximity. This maybe a resounding feature but what makes it even more special is the accessibility to these natural wonders. It is safe and effortless to get there, thanks to some proactive measures taken by the government. One such widely known tourist friendly location is Wadi Shab, the name doesn’t cascade a fraction of excitement it beholds for the visitor.
The drive
Heeding to suggestions from family and friends, against my repulsive unyielding nature, I set out to Wadi Shab on a Friday morning along with two others. Getting down from my house in Muscat, I was jubilant to see my friend in his Jeep, a remarkable off roader with which I had conquered Wahiba Sands, waiting to pick me. The next couple of hours went talking about our thrilling school days and the monotonous work life presently.
Our conversation about the futility of everything seized at the entrance of Sur, marked by a magnificent beach and cylindrical storage structures of the Oman LNG. I can’t help mentioning another irrelevant fact, that road is just sublime, wide and smooth without any bumps or vertical excitations. Forgive my terminology; I was an engineer once.
Destination at last
A few more turns in a quarter of an hour, we were at a place marked by a high bridge, tall mountains and a huge number of people. The two hour journey seemed to have instilled an Ibn Battuta passion within us, I don’t have any other explanation for us ignoring our destination, temporarily, and going uphill to discover the village at the outskirts of the exact tourist spot. Apart from a customary Omani village we discovered nothing different and perhaps it was time. We parked our vehicle and a large lake beyond a gravelly track welcomed us.
Hungry, we sighted a food stall and wasted no time rushing to it. Gravelly, grassy, ups and down, the unformed path to it was just a preview for what was to come. Now I have to detail this rickety food stall, this guy had everything, from fluids to solids, chocolates to gum, the chaotic little cabin in the woods was the perfect one-stop solution to a pre Wadi Shab moment. Considering it was also the last source of nourishment before we crossed the lake into the unknown, it couldn’t have had a better location.
Into the unknown

Replenishing our supplies we moved towards the boats carrying people to the other side. We purchased our return tickets securing our passage back to the safe side of the lake. The next few steps were easy, hop into a small boat along with few others and a local guide would ferry you across, which takes two minutes. That boat ride was exhilarating, not due to some rampage speed boat experience but rather an insipid smooth sailing in the middle of the mountains is so satisfactory, I wished it never got over.
Well, it did. We docked down the other coast, jumped out of the boat and were welcomed with some very unfriendly adventurous pathways. We just followed the gravelly track carved out in the middle of huge mountains with trees, plants and every imaginable scenic beauty complementing the view. Have you seen those documentaries on travel and dreamt to be there? If you have, there is nothing more ‘dream come true’ than a visit to Wadi Shab. It is a road in between sandstone cliffs, untouched by the sophisticated new world. The trail is open and never ending, every time you look up, the path seizes to an end until you reach there and find a dramatic steep curve that brings about a whole new series of pathways into perspective.
Loaded with energy and curious to find the end, we raced through several beautiful scenic magnificence before we found out why the place was known as Wadi Shab. In the midst of awe-inspiring mountains, naturally carved into the most beautiful shapes by the water, there were shallow lakes surrounded by huge boulders, overlooked by narrow rugged trekking pathways attached to the mountains. The lakes provided a great source of relaxation from a rather tedious trek as people got into their swimming cloaks and jumped into the chasm of fun and ease. I have to inform that there were several of such locations, so even though the place was inundated with people, it didn’t seem that way. Unaware of what the path held for us, we too decided to take a break and hopped into the least populated spit of water. One of the locals informed us that if we could swim well, we could get to a cave nearby through one of these lakes. But it was the trek we were looking at.
As we continued moving higher and higher, so the trek was basically a climb through the rough terrain with some beautiful sights, we crossed running rivulets, jumped over gigantic boulders until we reached a gorge. This was just splendid, in between the beautifully shaped peaks ran a stream of water. Our narrow pass had now become more like a cave and we stayed nearly 20 metres above water level. Perfect place for cliff diving. Several people swam and others walked along like us till a place where it was impossible to move further until it was a super hero movie or one was dressed for rock climbing. I must mention it here, navigating through Wadi Shab is simple. The towering mountains carve a distinct passage from the start to the end.
With the Sun beginning to soften, we got ourselves an alpine start and made our way back. Where the path may seem moderate while coming up, it becomes a bit hard while returning as descend aided by gravity, we tend to race away so caution is necessary especially while passing slippery and unstable conditions. The return was move tiring than we thought, starved off energy, descending down steps, gravels, streams, boulders and rocks, we somehow managed to take easiest return route possible. Throwing ourselves in the boat was even more soothing than the earlier trip. In the next five minutes we were in the car on our way back bidding farewell to one of the most satisfying trekking experience we ever had in Oman.
Our drive back consisted of a visit to a local restaurant in Sur and nothing out of the ordinary. I also learnt that our champion off roader was probably the worst long runner with no sleep or comfort possible in it, especially with my friend driving. So arrange for comfort on the way back as you are guaranteed to be tired.