Wadi Shab was the highlight of our trip to Oman which in itself was beautiful - the ocean, the fish market, the souk - but I digress. My husband and I and two kids ages 10 and 12 loved the Wadi. The scenery is fantastic with blue green pools, ocher and rust cliffs and lush greenery.
The weather in late February was perfect; just as we were warming up it was time for a swim. The hiking while not exhausting can be rocky and even slippery at times so wear good shoes you don't mind getting wet. You will want to take pictures but be advised that you have to swim if you want to see the keyhole cave at the end of the trek. I sat and painted and sketched (and guarded our things) while my husband and kids swam on. They swam through a small opening into a cave where they could jump into the water from a waterfall inside. I enjoyed the view and sun while painting and watching the action of other visitors swim and jump from the cliffs.
A local boy named Sami age 16 or 17 years old introduced himself at some point on our hike. He was friendly, polite and informative. He showed the kids where they could safely jump into the water from a high cliff, something we would have never let them do had he not done it first and showed them how. He pointed out and told us about the structures built into the cliff sides and was a pleasant addition to our experience. We have traveled in the region quite a bit and are familiar with the feeling of being manipulated for money (I'm thinking of Cairo here) but this was nothing like it. This felt like a nice polite teenager earning a little extra money - we were happy to oblige!
A 1.5 hour drive from Muscat will get you to Wadi Shab. It is possible to set up a tour guide to pick you up at your hotel but you can easily drive yourself and saved the money. The roads are excellent on the way just make sure you don't follow the "scenic route" - which is confusing and impassable in some areas. Instead take the newly completed dual carriage way. On the way to or back from Wadi Shab check out the sink hole - also a beautiful spot 10 minutes from Wadi Shab. This is well marked from the highway as well.
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