So this is why I have revived my blog. We moved to Oman a few months ago, and I’d like to share with family and friends, along with anyone else who is interested, our lives and travels through Oman and elsewhere. Hopefully it will also be a good point of reference for those planning to visit Oman.
My partner was offered a job in Muscat and we decided to make the move to the Middle East. Although it is quite different from Sydney, we have been enjoying it so far. And it has been a lot less of a culture shock than I expected before arriving. Aside from work, high on our agenda is to travel throughout Oman, as well as take advantage of being so much closer to Europe, Africa and Asia. In Oman we get 30 days annual leave (that’s 6 weeks), plus 15 public holidays (there are two lots of 4 days of public holidays in a row for Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha). So we have a lot more free time to travel too.
One of our first, and hopefully the first of many, weekend trips was to Wadi Tiwi and Wadi Shab. We didn’t venture too far up these wadis this time around. The road through Wadi Tiwi turns from a paved road into a harsh dirt track, which we weren’t confident enough to tackle, and at Wadi Shab we didn’t realise that the walk to the main pools was so long and we didn’t take enough water with us, nor did we have proper footwear. But we plan to visit Wadi Shab again, and next time be better prepared. These two wadis are very close to each other, so it’s easy to visit both in one day. And they are quite different too, so it’s worth visiting both if you have time.
Most people ask me, ‘what is a wadi?’ Well, a wadi is an Arabic term to describe a ravine, or a narrow valley between mountains, which is usually dry, but can turn into a river during the rains. Most wadis in Oman are dotted with small, or occasionally large, pools of water. There are some villages which are located in wadis, which are usually surrounded by pleasant date palm plantations.
Wadi Tiwi is known as the wadi of nine villages, as there are a number of villages which dot the road through the wadi. We were amazed at the beauty of the wadi, with its imposing mountains, and pools and date palms lining the road. We had a picnic lunch by one of the pools and walked around one of the villages. When travelling through Oman, make sure you take food and water along with you. There are no fast food outlets outside the city and it may be difficult to find a supermarket.
Wadi Shab was quite different to Tiwi. To start with, you cannot drive into the wadi – you have to take a small boat over the pool of water which is at the entrance of the wadi. Then there is a rather long, and hot walk, along pebbles and then along the side of one of the cliff faces, to reach the main pools. We started walking along the cliff face, but decided to turn back, as thongs weren’t quite the appropriate footwear. But we do plan to visit again, perhaps when the weather cools down a bit.
A car is a must when you’re in Oman. There is hardly any public transport in Muscat, let alone outside the city. Oman is all about the landscapes and going off-road, so I’d recommending hiring a 4×4.
Wadi Tiwi and Wadi Shab are located about 200km along the coast south of Muscat. To get there, follow the signs to Sur until you reach the Muscat-Sur Highway. Continue south along the highway until you see signs for Wadi Tiwi and Wadi Shab. The entrance to these wadis are just off the highway.