Y Magazine

Wadi Bani Habib

Wadi Bani Habib is a wonderful place to explore, especially if you are like me: curious and looking for something new. Here, atop Jebal Akhdar, you will discover the recently abandoned village of Habib, active walnut orchards, and an unused path all to yourself.

I am not going to lie to you, Wadi Bani Habib lands squarely on the tourist route of Jebal Akhdar, often rammed with local and foreign tourist when the weather is nice. Access to the wadi is easy from the road and small parking lot; and the village feels like it sits even closer. However, by getting off the main path and utilizing the mostly unused path you will find yourself alone, among what could be the largest trees in the sultanate.

My last visit to Wadi Bani Habib was probably the best. My friend Skyler and I visited in the late afternoon, after most all the tourists had gone back to their hotels. In the afternoon you have a greater chance for clouds and rain to develop and dramatically change the look or mood of the wadi; exactly what happened to us.

Skyler and I set off from the parking lot down the main trail on the right. Here you will find the majority of the tourists struggling with the steep incline back to the top of hill. Moving beyond them and looking across the wadi you notice the abandoned village of Habib perched on the side of the hill.

At first glance the village looks in pretty good shape. Walls, roofs, doors, and windows are mostly intact, as opposed to other abandoned villages in Oman. However, as you walk across the wadi, past the active orchards and the still active mosque, you notice nobody is home. Roofs collapsed, walls crumpled, and doors completely missing. The village is empty and yours to explore.

I am always amazed how intricately constructed some homes are in Oman. Habib is no different. Here you find complex homes with multiple stories, water pipes, and even tunnels. A very modern village indeed.

After exploring the first part of Habib, Skyler and I descend back down into the wadi and search for the second set of stairs. Carved out of the rocks, these stairs lead you to the second section of Habib. Luckily, the stairs take a little searching to find, so most tourist avoid the extra work.

At the top of the stairs we find more flat ground than on the other side. This section of the village feels like newer construction and more stable for exploring inside the buildings, so that is exactly what Skyler and I do. Inside the buildings we find old shoes, clothing, paint cans, and kitchenware, but mostly it’s bare.

After finishing our exploring, Skyler and I walk back down into the wadi and discuss our route back to the truck. Option one is to return the same way we came using the main path, and option two is to return via a loop by hiking down Wadi Bani Habib and through the orchards. To me it’s an obvious decision, and we set off down stream through the brush.

Wadi Bani Habib, Jebal Akhdar, OmanAfter just twenty meters it becomes apparent why this path remains unused. Large bushes and wild pomegranate trees link together to form a nearly impenetrable wall across the width of the wadi, but Skyler spots an opening, and we barely squeeze through.