In the previous issue, I explained how a wrong turn led me to Mrkhah Park [Issue 411]; this time I’ll be telling the story of the Destination I’d set my sights on from the beginning – Wadi Bani Khalid.
Once again, we got lost – this was becoming a recurring theme. After a few kilometres of driving, in what we thought was the direction of Wadi Bani Khalid, my cousin spoke up, saying that he didn’t recognise the surroundings from his last visit.
We had found a few pools right next to the road and although they had their own beauty, some locals pointed out to us that we weren’t on the right track. One bonus was that I managed to capture a couple of close-up shots of several vibrant-coloured butterflies.
Following a quick change of course, we got ourselves heading the right way and eventually found the wadi.
Set a little more than 200km from Muscat, Wadi Bani Khalid is one of Oman’s most popular natural attractions and is part of the small handful that actually have amenities on site, including toilets, a picnic area and occasionally vendors selling refreshments.
It was the first time I’d visited, but from the moment I laid eyes on the wadi, I knew it was something pretty special.
Water flows from a spring upstream, coursing down from the mountains to collect in huge pools with a blueish-green tint. There are manmade bridges in place so that you can cross easily.
Arriving around mid-afternoon, we found it to be teeming with people, a vibrant mix of Omani families, expats and tourists.
People were jumping off the high rocks and splashing around in the pools, some of which I’ve heard can reach depths of nine metres. Even though the water was deep enough to jump in, I did notice some people dressed in white on standby in strategic locations in case of any accidents, which was a reassuring sight.
By chance, I met a diehard fan of Y, who had a quick chat about the magazine and his favourite sections, which included Destination, Outdoors and Coffee with Y.
Wadi Bani Khalid is like a little oasis in the mountains, with the turquoise tinge of the water, green of the palm trees and dusty yellow of the surrounding rocks all contrasting perfectly to make a beautiful photo.
The pools are a great place for families to frolic and have fun, but Wadi Bani Khalid also caters for those in search of something a little more challenging. Further into the wadi you can find yet more springs, pools and caves, which are worth a visit, providing you are ready to tackle a slightly more demanding trek.
Alas, I couldn’t venture too far in, as I had planned to squeeze in one more Destination that day.
I loved my first experience of Wadi Bani Khalid and when the weather begins to change again after summer, I have set myself a challenge of walking all the way from Wadi Tiwi to Wadi Bani Khalid; a trek that I think will be in the region of around 14 hours. So keep your eyes peeled later in the year!
After resolving to do this, it was time to hit the road once more, but you’ll have to pick up next week’s copy of Y to discover where I was headed.
From Muscat, take Route 15 and take the turning for Route 23 after Bidbid. Stay on Route 23 until you pass through Bidiyah. Take a left turn after the Oriental Nights Rest House and follow the signs to Wadi Bani Khalid.
GPS location of the pools: N22° 37’ 7.214” E59° 5’ 35.56”