- Middle east
How to Hike to Wadi Shab Secret Cave without a Guide
Located between Muscat and Sur, Wadi Shab is a stunning valley with a river that runs through it and within the valley, there is a hidden waterfall in a secret cave that you should not miss when you are there. In order to get there, it will require you to both hike and swim and if you are wondering how you can get there, I've got your back. Here is everything you need to know to get to the secret cave and waterfall in Wadi Shab.
Looking for a complete itinerary for Oman? The Ultimate 7-Days Oman Itinerary for Backpackers.
Wadi Shab Hiking Map
When to Go to Wadi Shab
Oman is essentially a desert so you don't want to be there in midsummer. The best time to be there is from November to January where the weather is more bearable during the day which is perfect for hiking in Wadi Shab.
The best time to go to Wadi Shab is early in the morning where most parts of the trail are under shade and on weekdays where there should be no one around allowing you to have the whole place to yourself, which is just magical. I was there at 7:30 AM and there was no one for hours. A lot more tourists will arrive after 9 AM so if you want the whole place to yourself, get there early.
Be sure to check the weather from the day before as the water level you will face depends whether if it rained the day before or not.
I would recommend staying in Sur as it is closer to Wadi Shab allowing you to be there earlier than most people making the trip from Muscat. If you are wild-camping/sleeping in your own car, the Qalhat beach is a great spot to do so and closer to Wadi Shab as well.
Things to Prepare
- One bottle of water or more as you will be hiking in a desert for at least an hour.
- A flip-flop: Once you reached the part where you will have to swim, you won't be able to swim all the way through due to the rocky and shallow path so a flip-flop will help you walk on those rocks easier.
- A GoPro if you want to take a photo in the cave. The gorge gets deep towards the cave and you will have to swim or dive through the crack in a rock into the cave.
- You can take your big camera if you wish but you will have to leave it at the start of the gorge, together with your water bottle and all other belongings. The trail is really nice and you will be able to get nice photos from a good camera but if you are not comfortable leaving your camera unattended then don't bring it.
- A Swim suit is a must as you will be swimming at least 5 minutes to get inside the cave.
- A waterproof bag if you have a lot of stuff to carry and you don't want to leave your belongings by the gorge.
Is it Hard to Swim? (Important)
You have to be a good swimmer and be able to stay afloat in deep water for at least 10 minutes. You will also have to swim against the current from the waterfall as you get into the cave and you will have to go through a small crack on a rock that might require you to dive a bit (depending on the water level) so make sure you can do all of this and you are good to go.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Oman, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure.
How to Get to Wadi Shab
Wadi Shab is in Oman and there are several middle eastern airlines that connects Oman to literally everywhere in the world and so getting to Oman is the easy part. Etihad, Qatar or Emirates are great options to fly to Oman. For a cheaper option, FlyDubai is a great budget alternative. You can browse through Momondo and Skyscanner to find the cheapest deal that works for your itinerary.
From Muscat, you will have to rent a car to get to Wadi Shab. There is no public transportation available and since you want to be there in the early morning, a car is a must.
For more information about renting a car in Oman: The Ultimate Guide to Driving in Oman.
Where to Stay near Wadi Shab
Or in Muscat: Staying with Oorrig (Budget) - 20 USD/Night (Double Room) (Reachable by bus number 8 directly from the airport. Big house, great host and have some parking space) | Staying with Abdullah & Hilal (Budget) - 29 USD/Night (Double Room) (Reachable by bus number 8 as well directly from the airport. Great common area with a balcony access.)
Wadi Shab Hiking/Swimming Trail
Entrance to Trail Head
From Sur, you can take an exit to Tiwi and then follow the Wadi Shab sign until you reach the parking lot. From there, you will find a few locals offering a boat ride to the trailhead for 1 OMR (2 ways). The trailhead is just on the opposite side but the water is too deep to swim (and probably prohibited) so you will have to take the boat.
Trail Head to the Gorge (1 hour)
From the trailhead, the walk will take you through local farms on a flat path that might get muddy depending on the water level that day. It is an easy stroll through a few shallow pools of water as the trail started to climb a bit, hugging the right side of the valley.
After 20 minutes on the trail, the path will pass through a section full of boulders and the trail is less clear in this section so be careful not to get lost. Look out for spray paints on rocks and follow its direction. Eventually, you will be on the other side of the valley and the path will turn south towards the Gorge.
A few minutes of walk and you will arrive at the gorge where you can leave all your non-waterproof belongings and start swimming.
From the gorge, you can also continue hiking up the valley via a path on the right side of the gorge to get the view of the entire valley from the top. If you are not fond of swimming, then walk up along this trail instead.
Be very careful here, as this trail is not as well maintained and it can get real narrow in certain parts.
The Gorge to the Cave (15 minutes swimming/walking)
From the gorge, bring your GoPro and your flip-flop and start swimming towards the cave. The path will become shallow again as you swim towards the cave and this is where the flip-flop comes into play.
Walk through the rocky part of the gorge and once you reach the last pool before the cave, leave your flip-flop there and start swimming.
The water here is really deep and you won't be able to retrieve anything if you drop something, so be very careful (you have no idea how many GoPro they found in the gorge when a diver dove down to the bottom). Strap the GoPro to your wrist if you must!
From here, you will have to swim through a small crack into the cave where you will find the hidden waterfall inside. Depending on the water level, you might have to submerge your head for a few seconds to squeeze yourself into the crack. Honestly, when I first saw it, I didn't want to go in at all but someone went for it and I just followed them.
Take that dive and you will be rewarded with the sight of the hidden waterfall inside a beautiful small cavern while the sun ray illuminates the surrounding. It sure was quite a sight to behold and you will be glad that you decided to do it. I certainly did.
Once you have absorbed all the beauty Wadi Shab has to offer, you can backtrack your way to the parking lot which should take you no more than 1 hour.
And there you have it, how to go to the secret cave in Wadi Shab. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to leave a comment below.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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