Wadi Bani Kharus is a long and winding waterway that snakes its way over 30km, all the way from Jebel Akhdar to the village of Al Awabi. It’s pretty well known and is popular with weekend visitors, but I decided to visit a much lesser explored part for my latest Destination. This was the first time I’d been and I took inspiration from a fantastic photography book I have at home, which had some inviting photos of the wadi.
It’s about a 90-minute drive from the capital and as we approached, we passed through a string of small villages until the road began to alternate between blacktop and dirt track before eventually giving way to the nature. Luckily, I was riding shotgun in my friend’s 4×4, so this didn’t stop us from delving deeper into the wild.
When we could take our 4×4 no further, we parked and began walking. While the weather was glorious earlier that morning, it was now 1pm and more and more clouds were beginning to form, which made the temperature very mild and pleasant. In fact, one of the first photos I took wasn’t of the wadi at all, as I turned my camera towards the sky and snapped some interesting cloud formations with the sun peeking out from behind.
The terrain got rocky quickly with the boulders growing in size, many of which had been washed smooth by the passage of water through the wadi in times of heavy rain. There were also pools of calm water that increased in frequency and size the further along we trekked. They were largely shallow – barely deep enough for a paddle above the ankles – but did get deeper in places.
My friend and I had already visited Wadi Bani Ghafir that day [Issue 387] and although quite close to each other, the two wadis could not have been more different. Wadi Bani Ghafir had been filled with the sounds and smells of families cooking up delicious foods and kids frolicking in the water, but all I could hear at Wadi Bani Kharus was the sound of silence, punctuated every now and then by the gentle sound of water as it trickled past in a slow moving stream. We were the only souls there and I loved it; it was so tranquil.
At one point, we came across a tent that was set up alongside a large rock formation and what looked like a living area, with a kettle and other cooking items. I assume they were Bedouins because it looked like a semi-permanent fixture, but we didn’t see the occupants on our travels, so I wasn’t able to confirm this.
We did see a couple of frogs splashing about in one of the shallow pools, but apart from that, there weren’t any signs of animal life either.
There were a few times when the thorns and brush blocked our path, although we pushed our way through, getting a few scratches and scrapes for our troubles, but it was all worth it. The sights that met my eyes were beautiful. The composition of the scenery before me was close to perfect, with the combination of water, mountains and sky that really took my breath away.
Doing some further reading about my destination, I found that the range of rock formations at Wadi Bani Kharus date back more than 500 million years, making it an area of great geological importance. I also heard that the deeper into the wadi you venture, you can find fossils of ancient snails and clams, but we didn’t see any on our visit.
Our pace was a meandering one due to frequent stops to take pictures of little details along the way. We wound our way further into the wadi over several hours and although we weren’t following any specific path, we eventually found ourselves looping back towards the location of our car.
Wadi Bani Kharus is a beautiful place, especially now that the weather is starting to cool slightly, and I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to this little undiscovered corner of Oman.
From Muscat, take Route 1, exiting left onto Route 13 when you get to Barka. Stay on this road all the way to Al Awabi. The wadi can be reached via a track behind the old fort.
GPS location: N23° 17’ 59.873” E57° 31’ 50.253”