In October, 2015 we took a day trip to go hiking in Muscat, Oman during our trip to Dubai.
We rented a car at the airport and headed toward Wadi Shab Park. The red mountains are immediately striking and our first thought was that they look like what we would expect to see on Mars.
After some creative navigating, we arrived at what seemed to be the parking lot for Wadi Shab. The spot was nothing more than a concrete parking area under a bridge. There were very friendly goats leisurely grazing all along the parking area.
The entrance to the hiking trail is not at all visible and after finding someone to ask at the little snack stand, we learned why. You need to take a boat across the small river in order to reach the trail. Just a few minutes later and we were in the boat, being ushered to the other side.
It was very hot so make sure you have plenty of water. We did eventually run into a few others on the trail but for the majority of the hike we were alone. A local man with his donkey did pass us at one point, which was a bit surreal.
The hike was right along side the river that we had to cross in order to get to the beginning. We had to cross through shallow points in the river a couple of more times and passed several grazing donkeys and more goats along the way.
We eventually got to the first “swimming hole” and seriously considered stopping there. The spot was gorgeous, and the water was a wonderful retreat from the heat. Luckily though, we had passed a few other hikers on their way out who recommended continuing on to the end. So, we decided to stick it out.
When we got there we found a series of 3 pools of water. After you swam through one you got out and walked to the next before swimming to the next.
When we swam to the back of the last pool, we followed a very narrow crevice into a cave, complete with a waterfall. Many thanks to the other hikers who recommended we continue on the hike. That cave was definitely worth another hour or two in the sun.
We stayed in the pools and swam around for a bit and then headed back. When we got back to the beginning the boat returned and took us back to the parking lot. By then, we were pretty much starving and needed a few more water bottles so we were picked up some snacks from the little stand. We changed clothes in the bathrooms near the parking lot and hopped back in the car.
Next stop was the Dabab Sinkhole. You can swim there as well but we decided not to as there was no place to change and we had lots more to do that day. We did stand in the water though, which is full of the little pedicure fish.
There are several local legends as to how the sinkhole was formed. One of them credits a meteorite. This legend is how the sinkhole was given it’s Arabic name, which translates to “The Falling Star”. Scientific research has confirmed that the crater was actually formed as a natural consequence of the interaction of the dissolving limestone, which resulted in the collapse of the earth’s upper crust layer.
After that, we drove around the city to see the fort and visit the Souq.
We had a great local fish dinner in a tiny little restaurant before heading back to the airport. When we were done, the sun had set so we were able to see a stunning white mosque lit up. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a picture of it but it remains to be one of the most beautiful mosque’s we have ever seen.
We are really excited to return to Oman for more hiking and camping, hopefully sometime in March.