Hiking and swimming Wadi Shab

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
3
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
8
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
8
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
3
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
6
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
72 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Middle East
country
Oman
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 10
Time of year visited
November
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
103rd/359 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 30% SUMMARY RATING: Superb

Summary

Wadi Shab is a large gorge that makes its way from the Eastern Hajar Mountains to meet the Arabian Sea.  Purely for looking at it is beautiful – steep arid dramatic sides rising above and crystal clear turquoise water rushing through the streams and irrigation channels that cross all through the gorge (and are actually UNESCO World Heritage sites on their own).  But, the main reason the trip is so cool and worth the visit is the mini adventure of hiking and then swimming through the warm water of the gorge to find the partly submerged cave with small waterfall at the end.  Great fun

Top tip – get there early.  I arrived at 745am and had the walk and swim into the gorge completely to myself, which was magical.  The way back I counted maybe 50 people passing me, which would have been a very different vibe and suggests that groups arrive around 9am.  The small boats that transport you the first 2-3 mins across the water start at 7am (1 Omani Rial / USD2.5), so you can start anytime from then

How much time is needed – the guides say 4 hours, but I think you only need 2-3 hours – 45mins to walk to the start of swim, 30mins for the swim (wading / swimming / standing – not all swimming!), and then a bit shorter on the way back.  I was back on the small boats after 2 hours and wasn’t at all rushing

What to bring – because the swim is at the end, I reckon you could get by without a dry bag or water shoes because you can just leave your dry stuff at the start of the swim.  That being said, the adventure feel of taking the dry bag with me through the swim was fun

The gap into the partly submerged cave at the end is very small!  I turned up, on my own, not knowing there was a cave or a small gap – quite the moment deciding to go for it!

You don’t need a guide – it’s a very straightforward route and not really worth the OR25 / USD65

Where to stay – Wadi Shab Resort was basic (most places are in Oman) but really nice with immediate access to the pebble beach where you can spot sea turtles

highlights

#1 Swimming your way through the warm water stream on your way to the final cave with its small waterfall

#2 The views all along the gorge - with super steep arid sides, yet luscious valley floor

#3 Seeing the various irrigation flows (which are actually UNESCO World Heritage sites in their own right) and pretty farms along the way

#4 The hike itself - only slightly challenging, yet with enough mini climbing to make it fun

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone