Oman, the most beautiful and peaceful of all the Gulf monarchies, is nearly divided between mountains, beaches and deserts, and the antithesis of the bling on show in the neighbouring Emirates. ' Oman is a fertile land of streams, trees, orchards and palm groves,' wrote the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta in the 14th century. The statement remains true today and there's no better way to discover the country than through its amazing wadis. They provide cool, shade and fruit through irrigation. Here are our top five wadis in Oman:
Wadi Bani Khalid
The most popular wadi in the country, located between the desert and the coast, is impeccably beautiful, and lined with green plots planted with leaning date trees. Bathe in crystal clear waters in the shade of huge mango trees offering an abundance of colourful fruit. Have a leisurely swim in a huge natural swimming pool overlooked by a restaurant, where you can enjoy the delicious menu. During the weekend, escape the crowds by heading up the wadi to other beautiful natural pools. Alternatively, hike between the two neighbouring and almost deserted villages. These tiny hamlets consist of flat-roofed mud houses covered with a golden yellow coating, some decorated with simple and colourful frescoes. Crossing this stunning landscape will awaken the senses : the purity of the air ; the stark majesty of the gorges ; the rushing of the water flowing down the 'qanats' (water channels) to irrigate the orchards below ; the geometric harmony of the fields ; the sweet fragrance of roses, pomegranates, figs and apricots.
To reach another of our top five wadis in Oman, Wadi Shab, where the fresh waters that flow from the mountains merge with the salt water of the sea, you must, after crossing a body of water by boat, walk along limestone ravines, following the course of the dried river. Then, swim to a cave with a beautiful waterfall where sunlight filters in. It's worth the effort.
©Wolfgang Zwanzger - Fotolia
You reach Wadi Tiwi from a trail that runs along the river, lined with date and fig groves, through hamlets, where you can admire the complex system of irrigated terraces, supported by flat stone slopes, through which water flows. The canals run down the mountainside to irrigate sparkling green crops: orchards built on the mountainside by farmers who clearly don't suffer from vertigo, and rose gardens where butterflies flutter. Wadi Tiwi, also known as the wadi of nine villages, offers visitors a beautiful insight into rural life in the sultanate. At the end of the canyon, you reach the last village - Mybam. Its small square houses are perched on a rocky outcrop, with breathtaking views as your reward.
©Philippe Perraud - stock.adobe.com
The wadi is formed by a huge ravine on the eastern side of Mount Hajar. Enjoy a wonderful walk along the channels to the source. Part hike, part canyoning, enjoy the journey in the cool of the river. Along the two banks of the wadi stand four villages famous for growing date palms, banana trees, lemon trees and mango trees. The walk ends at a beautiful emerald waterfall.
In the Nizwa region, where the fortress proudly displays its Portuguese canons and spectacular date stores, Wadi Damm is - like many - a seasonal wadi, where the flow of water depends on rainfall. The landscape is extraordinary, with the magnificent canyon and rocks carved by erosion.