White boulders and emerald pools – Oman’s wadis
This is what Heaven must be – the most creative description I could come up with as I was squinting my way through the majestic valleys of Oman. And I dont believe in a Heaven.
I have seen beautiful. This was more. If I was not busy taking it all in, I might have made some great photographs to show you. Unfortunately, sifting through the snaps I realize I have nothing, not even one shot that can possibly do the scenes justice. I was too busy staring.
Oman is dry and summers here are unrelenting. Rains are few and far in between, but when they come, flash floods easily follow as the Earth is caked on, unable to drink it all in. Water flows down the hills through valleys and fills them with fresh supplies. Palm trees get their drink. And after the sun has come up and dried the ground and valleys again, we come in to reap the rewards of this cycle.
We drove into one of the wadis with our rented sedan. I give you this detail, because it is somewhat important. This is the country for 4×4 enthusiasts. If roaring behind the wheel is your cup of tea, Oman is your destination. It is beautiful behind every corner, dirt tracks zig-zag up various hills and smooth highways are there to take you quickly to your next exploration. Most wadis can be seen with on of those handy vehicles.
We did not have one, so we were limited to where our feet and Chinese made “never heard of the brand” car could reach to.
Wadi Shab was the place where the size of your wheels did not matter. Everyone parks theirs at the entry and after a short boat ride to the other side, its all on foot.
Mr.Blab was singing some tune from Gilligan’s Island as we started the walk through the palm trees lining the side of the valley. He said it was, I would not know, as I am not that old…or American.
After the palms came the small white rocky part, which was particularly hard on Miss Fab’s unsuitable shoes. In fact, nobody had suitable footwear for this. My flip flops gaped out in amazement and needed to be kept together by my hair elastic. Little B, had her slip ons. Dod had the best shoes, but he doesnt count, because he never walks.
Then followed the high walk on the cliffs, where we had to dunk our heads to keep them from harms way, but none of it mattered looking down on the deep blue green waters of the pools bellow us.
Next were the huge white boulders we had to climb through. We passed a few people on the track, but we had most of the views to ourselves. Completely undisturbed.
Here everyone drops their gear and takes into the water for the final stage. After Miss Fab and Mr.Blab explored, it was my turn.
The water is fresh and crispy, just what my body needed. The deepest part was around waist level. After a corner I had to climb up the slippery rocks to cross. I slapped my white from the chilly water foot on the boulder and as I was standing up, dripping on, I felt…alive.
Splash! The next pool where my feet got quite painful from walking on the rocks, so I just scooted through the emerald waters. More rocks and boulders.
Splash! into the final pool. Deeper and darker green than the others. I looked ahead of me, but so no way through, just big cliffs. A young couple was nearby and I asked them for the way. The girl was going in as well, so we made our way together. Approaching the point where we were supposed to pass through was unnerving. I could see nothing. Until finally a tiny crossing point was revealed. My feet dangling into the dark green water and the cliffs above me did not make me feel safe at all. We nervously laughed together.
Her guide caught up with us and said “Go! Just go!”. And I did.
Slowly swimming into the dark corner, I did not want to. The hole looked small and it got smaller as I got closer. Until I could no longer just swim, I had to side swim through the rocks. And then my head would not fit through. Are you kidding me?! Let me out. “Bring your head down..down” – the sound of reason came from the back. And I did.
With half of my face in the water, side shimming my way through the tiny pass I made it through. And inside… a waterfall rushed through the rocks above. The place was dark, secluded with a few holes that let in the daylight through the high reaching cliffs . I felt like a tiny speck amidst nature’s amazing works.
The guide was now ushering us to climb the slippery rocks while holding onto a rope hanging from the top of the waterfall. “Its easy” – he promises. Sobered up from the view, or probably getting tired from kicking to keep myself on top of the water, all I could do was just smile with an “I dont think so pal”. Looking at the girl next to me, I knew we were on the same page. In awe of the view, but ready to be out in the sun. And slowly, we left him back there with his rope.
Sliding my way back on the the jeweled waters amidst steep rocks all around me, I was having hard time even comprehending the whole experience. Was I really here?
Yes. And it was unlike anything else I have ever done.