Friday, January 4: Wadi Shab is a spectacular narrow gorge along the coastal road north of Sur. My boys consider this their favorite spot in Oman, equal only to Camp Al Areesh in Sharqiya Sands, so of course we must do this hike early on in their visit. To get into the gorge, we cross the small waterway by boat and then walk along a narrow path shaded by dry date palms. We walk gingerly over a long stretch of loose round rocks, a little difficult to navigate. As the gorge narrows, we follow a small footpath on a ledge above the wadi floor. Wadi Shab is quite crowded today, and lots of Omanis and tourists are jumping off the high ledges into deep pools below. Adam is keen to jump off these cliffs, so we take a break for Adam to make a leap. Then we proceed further back to our prime destination, a deep and long pool in the gorge leading to a cave, with an opening at the top that lets in streams of sunlight. After the first set of pools, we hike through another boulder-strewn part of the wadi, clambering over huge rocks and then along the falaj until we get to the next set of pools, about an hour into the gorge.
At the rocky beach along the first pool of this set, we shed our clothes and then start wading back in our bathing suits. I wear my hiking sandals because the bottom of the pool is covered in pebbles. As we get further back, we swim through increasingly deeper pools. Then, in front of us looms the cave, with a small narrow opening at the bottom that we must swim through to get inside the cave. The opening is just narrow enough to keep our heads above water as we swim through. Then, we’re inside, where people are swimming around in the aquamarine water.
Alex climbs up a rope by a waterfall to the ledges above. Adam climbs up behind him. They want to jump off the cliff in the pool, but they can’t remember how they get to the top of the ledge, even though they did it last year. Finally, they get some Omani guys to show them how to shimmy under a narrow ledge to the jumping off point. They take the leap, sailing off the cliff into the pool below.
After our afternoon of swimming and hiking, we drive up the coastal road to Muscat, where we have a lovely outdoor dinner in the gardens of Kargeen.
After dinner, we have no choice but to drive the 1 1/2 hours back to Nizwa, as I have to go to work tomorrow.