ADVENTURE GUIDE: Wadi Arbaeen, Oman
Wadi Al Arbaeen is one of the nicest spots in Oman and has an established reputation among the region’s off-roading and camping enthusiasts – and with good reason. Located around 90 minutes outside of Muscat, it is a long valley filled with tracks for rock-crawling in the 4x4 and dozens of fresh-water pools to dip in – which is ideal as the weather warms up.
How to get there
The best way to get to Wadi Al Arbaeen is by going through the highway from Muscat to Sur and Qurayyat, a scenic 82km drive through the Eastern Hajar foothills on a good road.
On the highway to Sur, just at a settlement called Dibab, take a right turn when you find the “Wadi Al Arbaeen in 17km” sign. This road essentially follows the course of Wadi Al Arbaeen. Keep going straight until the asphalt road ends and you start driving on gravel.
If you are tech-savvy, you follow those coordinates: 23°03'49.5"N 58°59'13.9"E
What to expect
Wadi Al Arbaeen provides the ultimate soundtrack of nature. There are moments when all you can hear are the sounds of running water, birds and a breath of wind flowing through the narrow channels.
It’s no surprise that this area is popular with local families and after only a few hundred metres you will probably find people picnicking and swimming in the fresh water pools. The trick is to just keep going deeper into the wadi, where only 4x4s can go. You will be rewarded with long stretches of valley to yourself, where it feels more serene and untouched. In the less accessible parts of the wadi, you will be astonished with the rock formations, waterfalls and palm groves.
What to do
For 4x4 fans, this is an incredibly enjoyable wadi, with lots of rock-crawling and water crossing. Essentially, there is one trail that follows the course of the wadi in a south-westerly direction. Eventually, just as the valley meanders around to the south, at a small settlement called Al-Bitha’, a road up to the right will take you all the way back to the highway – several kilometers north of the Dibab turn-off.
This whole circuit is around 38km but it will take you most of the day. Importantly, there are several stops along the valley where you can climb the rocks and jump in the water from different heights – although please check the depth of the water before jumping from cliffs.
For hikers and trekkers, the valley is ideal for long walks but be prepared for a challenge; there is plenty of rock climbing and walks through water. If you plan to do so, make sure you come fully equipped with the right attire and shoes, and have lots of drinking water especially during the hotter seasons.
You can camp anywhere in the wadi, but it’s safer to find higher ground to avoid flash floods. Also, avoid vegetation where possible as it attracts insects and reptiles.
Driving tips a tricks
Driving in wadis isn’t easy, whatever car you drive. If you haven’t done it before, you might need to follow some tips so you don’t put yourself and others in danger – or wreck your car. Here are some tips for you to consider before planning your trip the Wadi:
1. Make sure your tyres are in good shape with thick sidewalls considering that wadis are filled with sharp rocks and gravel. A/T tyres are recommended.
2. When driving on the gravel tracks, make sure to reduce your speed as it is really easy to suddenly lose traction and slip sideways. It is recommended to engage your 4x4 and make sure your traction control is on.
3. When driving on steep ascends and descends, you should make sure to drive on a lower gear, it is recommended to be on first or second gear based on the incline/decline. Keep your speed steady and make sure to look ahead for boulders and ditches.
4. When driving on water puddles or fords, take your time to assess the depth of the water before driving head-on and check for any hidden boulders or ditches under the surface.
What you’ll need
For those of you familiar with the wadis in the UAE and Oman, you probably also know the requirements for such a trip. But here’s a list of the things that must be considered:
- A 4x4 car is a must, as you will be driving on rocks, gravel and water throughout the wadi
- Passports valid for more than 6 months (check with the Omani Consulate for entry requirements)
- Car insurance that covers Oman and off-roading
- Plenty of drinking water
- An icebox with lots of ice
- Food, snacks, and drinks
- At least one change of clothes (keeping in mind the weather)
- Swimming clothes
- Sturdy and worn-in hiking/trekking shoes
- Tent, sleeping bag and a roll mat/mattress (you’ll probably be sleeping on rocky terrain)
- Tow ropes and shackles
- Spare tire
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
Map of Wadi Al Arbaeen