Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

Everyone has heard about Wadi Rum, one of the main attractions in Jordan. Great. Few people have heard of the wadis in Oman. I think that is great, too. Well, at least my selfish side thinks like that – I always like to feel I have the places for myself! Who doesn’t, right? So, on my last trip to Oman, I went visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, a desert paradise, in my opinion.

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

For those not familiar with what a wadi is, it’s a dry riverbed that contains water only in heavy rains. It is also the Arabic word for valley. But at Wadi Bani Khalid, like at many wadis in Oman, the green coloured water flows all year round, making it perfect to visit all year round. Oh, did I say it is an oasis?

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

I visited the place during a road trip to the Sharkquiya region with some Omani friends. Wadi Bini Khalid is located near the main road that connects the capital Muscat to the city of Sur. It’s possible to go there on a day trip from Muscat, but given the distance of 255km each way, it’s better to go there as part of a longer trip to the wadis and Bimah Sinkhole, which I talked about on this post.

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

We drove off the highway into a secondary road, surrounded by a large date trees plantation. About 10 minutes later, we parked our car. After walking for another 10 minutes, we saw some artificial streams, used to irrigate the area, then we got to the main pools.

Wadi Bani Khalid is popular with visitors, especially on the weekends, when it’s, apparently way too crowded.

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

The heat was intense that shortly after we arrived, the sun was already burning my skin – not surprising when you’re in the desert, right? So at the sight of the massive natural pools, I just felt like going for a dip straight away. My friends were too used to the place, so they couldn’t really understand why I was in such awe.

We stopped for a refreshing soft drink at the little stall by the main pool, watching local teenagers doing somersaults into the deeper parts of the main pool, which can be up to 9m deep.

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

This wadi is also popular with trekkers going on a three day guided trek over the mountains, passing by the Moqal caves, and reaching Wadi Tiwi, near the coast. If only I could do that one day! Since we were only spending a few hours there, I left my friends enjoying some shade and a drink, and followed the river upstream.

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

The mountains’ shapes and different shades of brown and pastels, contrasting with the intense green of the river and pools, was something I hadn’t seen before. Truly unique, to say the least, don’t you agree?

To respect local traditions, you’re encouraged to wear a shirt when you go swimming. Since I didn’t have a spare one, I was looking for a more hidden where I could go for a swim without shocking locals. After a few minutes, I found a secluded spot, where some Omani guys were swimming, and I joined them.

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

They soon started talking to me and asking to take pictures. They were all related and a great bunch of guys. To my surprise, they were my friends’ neighbours. Is that a small world, or is that a small world?

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

My friends soon found me, as I was taking long and they were worried something could have happened. We then climbed the mountain for a few hundred metres, and returned as quickly as possible, as the heat midday heat was becoming unbearable. To make things worse, our bottled water got way too warm to drink, so we really had to go back.

Surely it was a very short trip, but with no doubts, it was one of the best places I’ve been to in the whole of Oman. Don’t be surprised if I write about visiting Wadi Bani Khalid Part 2, in a few months time!

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman

HOW TO GO TO WADI BANI KHALID

Wadi Bani Khalid is located near the highway that connects Muscat to Sur, in the Sharqiyah Governorate. It is roughly 255km from the capital, and 120km from Sur.

You may hire a 4×4 (roughly USD120 per day), or by taxi. If you’re travelling from Muscat, you can also get a private tour with one of the many agencies in town.

Visiting Wadi Bani Khalid Oman

WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU

Let’s remember that you will be in the desert, so you must take enough water and food for the entire period you will be there. There are no restaurants or shops, just a small stall with limited options. Also bring some extra clothes, if you intend to go into the water. Women can also swim, but never in a swimming suit (bikini is a big no no!) and also must wear some loose clothes.

Also take sun glasses, a hat, sun lotion and comfortable clothes.

Kids may stop you on the way and offer to carry your belongings for a few coins, but this is not seen as good practice by elderly locals.

WHAT ELSE?

Now you can enjoy this amazing wadi and take lots of nice pictures! 🙂

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14 Responses

    • Pedro (the author)

      Thank you, Ali! At first I was thinking the same about the lack of cafes there. But I think it’s better this way, otherwise it might attract a higher number of visitors, spoiling the “rough and ready” aspect of this wadi. I read somewhere that the green of the water is because the rocks are rich in copper. How accurate that it, I don’t know.

      Thanks for your visit!

      Reply
  1. Imran

    Nice post!!! Can Wadi Bani Khalid be approached in a sedan or we need a 4×4.

    I plan to combine this place with a visit to Bidiyah in the near future from Muscat.

    Reply

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