As we left Muscat City in convoy even the Sat Nav had no idea where we were headed. We drove along “Route 13” for a couple of hours towards the Dakhiliyah Region and the Western Hajar mountains before heading off the main road and into the marvel that is Wadi Bani Awf.
Leaving the black top roads behind we drove towards the Canyon itself over the bumpy roads trailing clouds of dust billowing behind us. The natural, rugged landscape of Oman is always something that I find strikingly beautiful and Wadi Bani Awf is no exception.
The dust roads become narrower and more intimidating with less room to pass others vehicles as they hurtled past with sheer drops of cliff side just inches away. At this point I didn’t mind giving into the sexist stereotype and moved over to let one of the guys drive my car. Don’t attempt these roads in a saloon car, this is strictly 4×4 territory!
Reaching the rendezvous point we were issued and fitted our safety gear and briefed on what to expect.
Our tour guide, Justin, is a key figure in Oman’s search and rescue squad and is all too familiar with these trips and the hazards involved. We couldn’t be in safer hands with Justin guiding us.
Suited and booted we headed off into the mouth of the canyon unaware of just what exciting adventures lay ahead.
As this was just the very beginning of the outdoors season (5th Sept) in Oman the water levels in some of the water pools were not favorable for us to safely make large jumps. Instead we abseiled down the rock face which brought a whole new set of challenges….And rope burns – Ouch!
From the very first pool of water we were treated to a diverse array of local wildlife from creepy crawlies, dragonflies, fish, hundreds of toads to the less appealing leeches and bats. And of course a trip to ‘Snake Canyon’ wouldn’t be complete without a slithery friend also!
It really does get your heart pumping when jumping from even a couple of meters high when you don’t know what is under the water – How deep will it be? Will there be rocks? Will I get a leech in my shoe? All real thoughts in my head.
Once you commit to entering the canyon there is literally no way back out of your own power – unless you are Spiderman – until you reach the end. That was the driving force pushing me on to complete the tasks and overcome the huge obstacles that I may have wimped out of otherwise.
During one narrow descent Justin was very adamant that we listen to his instructions clearly and failure to do so could easily result in broken hips – now that put the fear of God into me! I put every single toe exactly where he told me to.
On the course briefing we were advised to wear safe footwear like trainers/sneakers, I chose to wear lightweight, flexible Skechers shoes which would be comfortable to get wet – BIG mistake! My shoes didn’t have enough grip and I found myself sliding down the algae covered rocks and struggling to regain footing. The flexible rubber was not upto the job of protecting from the spikes of tough mountain trees which resulted in a spike through the foot. Yelp! If you do this trip then please wear shoes with proper grip and a tough sole.
One by one the adventurers line up for their turn at throwing their bodies from a height. Reaching the edge and looking down every single one of them has a slight ‘eeek’ moment, it is actually a lot higher than first expected. As they splash into the water below and reemerge the smiles are beaming from their faces.
For hours we swam, leaped, squeezed and crunched but eventually we reached the end point. Sweaty and exhausted we exited the canyon smiling at our massive accomplishment!
Muscles in my body that had lain dormant for a looong time still ache days later and my limbs are patched with bruises but my enthusiasm for Snake Canyon has not dwindled – I cannot wait to return and take on the challenge again. Next time I want to do it bigger, better and faster!
This adventure is not for the faint hearted! I would highly recommend that you take a guide or at least someone who is very familiar with the area. The potential for sprains and breaks in here is high. Adventurers, you should always ensure that you have a decent level of fitness, be able to swim fully clothed and check the weather forecast before setting off.
For this adventure and others search “Oman Adventure” on Facebook to find the tour group or visit www.holiday-in-oman.com