Determined to discover the beauty of Wadi Abyad’s clear pools, Shaquel al Balushi finds himself in a bit of a tricky situation
My visit to Wadi Abyad was an amazing experience, but one of the toughest trips I have ever undertaken.
It all started off in a normal enough fashion; I was talking to one of my friends who does a lot of travelling around Oman and he recommended that I check out Wadi Abyad. Always keen to discover new places, I eagerly hopped into his Jeep Wrangler one morning last week and off we went.
As we approached the wadi, which is in the shadow of the Jebel Akhdar mountains, we came across a friendly looking group of camels and after passing through a small village, we entered the wadi.
The bed of the wadi is very wide, flat and easy to drive on. Its close proximity to Jebel Akhdar, where it frequently rains, means that water often rushes through, which has polished the surrounding stones into smooth shapes.
As we drove further along the wadi, the few houses and farms we had seen gave way to the greenery of nature, with rugged mountains rising up to either side. I managed to capture a few nice images of the pretty flowers and a very distinctive dragonfly.
We had passed several pools and streams along the way, which we splashed through with no problem in my friend’s Jeep, but after an hour of driving and photographing, everything went wrong. We came across one particular pool that appeared shallow just like all the others, but as we passed through, the right side of the 4×4 took a nosedive into the water and it quickly became apparent that we were well and truly stuck.
The drastic change in water depth over the space of just a few metres was unbelievable. I captured one shot of my friend standing by the driver’s side of the jeep in water no more than a few centimetres deep, yet on the other side of the vehicle, the entire wheel was submerged.
Luckily, my friend is a very experienced off-road driver and he kept the engine running to ensure water did not flood the exhaust pipe while we attempted to haul ourselves out using the Jeep’s winch and the surrounding rocks. Despite our best efforts, we were powerless to extricate ourselves and after an hour or so, we set about trying to get signal on our phones to call for help. The bottled water we had with us was heating up and there was very little shade available to shelter from the searing midday heat.
After two-and-a-half hours of being stuck, we had a stroke of luck when another car passed through completely by chance. The Omani driver attempted to pull us out, but didn’t have a suitable place to attach the hook to his imported 4×4. In a touching gesture of friendship and goodwill towards complete strangers, he said he would travel to a nearby village and promised to come back with help.
Sure enough, he returned behind the wheel of his friend’s enormous four-door Jeep and eventually managed to pull us free.
By the time we were on our way again it was 5.30pm and we had been stuck for a little more than five hours. Before our trip, my friend had painted a beautiful picture of the clear, large pools that the wadi leads to, however, after the incredibly strenuous day we’d experienced, we unfortunately had to pass on these and drove home completely exhausted.
It was an eventful day to say the least, but despite the hardships we endured it was enjoyable nonetheless and acted as a reminder of the care you must take when driving off-road in Oman, as well as the respect nature deserves at all times.
How to get there:
Take the highway towards Barka and take the exit for road 13. Exit the road to the right after seven kilometres and pass through the village of Khatum, continuing on towards Labijah. From here, you can enter the wadi.
GPS location of Wadi Abyad: N23° 27’ 35” E57° 39’ 52”