Once in a while I need to escape the UAE in search of some lush scenery and natural formations. I am fortunate enough to find that (and more) in the country right next door to me- Oman.
I have been to various parts of Oman previously (on 4 separate trips) so I am always on the lookout for new places to visit and new adventures to be had.
This time Expat Polar, Expat Bunny and myself decided that we would head to Nizwa and and visit Wadi Damm. A wadi (وَاد ), is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley.
To pinpoint this geographically refer the the below map:
We began our journey in Muscat (I will outline other transportation options at the bottom of this post) with our rented Toyota Fortuner. I need to say at this point-
YOU MUST HAVE A 4 WHEEL DRIVE VEHICLE TO VISIT WADI DAMM.
There is no workaround for this and later on, when you watch our video about this, you’ll see why.
The route from Muscat to Wadi Damm goes through the mountains and shows you a lot of small Omani towns along the way. There are quite a few petrol stations you can stop at to fill your tank, buy snacks or use the restroom. While Google Maps estimated a journey time of 3 hours, it realistically took around 3.5 hours to get there.
A lot of previously written blog posts give you landmarks to look for when you get closer to the Wadi but I don’t think that’s necessary anymore. Once you turn off the highway into the Amla/Al Ayn region, there are signboards that say Wadi Damm (in English and Arabic) and Waze/Googe Maps has the correct co-ordinates. When you’re about 10 minutes away, you’ll pass some beehive tombs (the Ancient Tombs of Al Ayn) so you will know you’re getting close.
You will go offroad for the last 10-15 minutes where it gets bumpy. You can’t miss the dam wall in front of you and you can find parking in front of it or further back under some trees. There are no rules other than being considerate to fellow drivers.
Now its worth noting that we probably went at the driest time of the year (excluding July/August) and there was still water in the wadi. So this makes it perfect to visit all year round.
Wadi Damm is free to visit and enter and there are no set opening and closing times (its not a formal tourist site). My tip for hiking this wadi is to stay high and avoid walking close to the water. Its not possible to swim all the way through like in Wadi Shab.
The prettier pools are further inside the wadi so just keep walking. At one point you will reach a huge collection of rocks with an affixed rope. Here you have two options:
- Use that rope to climb up and slither through some narrow crevices.
- Use the rope to climb up and clamber around the large rocks.
- Stop your hike and return to the pools around you.
I made it up using that rope but not without help from my hiking companions, Expat Polar and Expat Bunny. To be frank- if I was on my own, I probably wouldn’t have made it. While its not extremely strenuous, you do need a certain level of physical strength to propel yourself.
Fear not if you stop at that point because there are still beautiful pools you can take a dip in. This photo was taken at one of them.
If you do manage to keep going forward, it does get more secluded and the water in the pools are more transparent. We did not hike all the way to the end but the wadi does stretch a bit and it would probably take you around 2 hours to walk it from start to finish. We spent around 2 hours there, walking, relaxing and snapping photos.
All in all, this was a beautiful and serene wadi, probably one of the most peaceful onesI have been to in Oman however; its not accessible for people with mobility issues (at all), its not possible to get there without a 4WD vehicle (at all) and there are NO facilities on site (at all). So if you are expecting a rugged terrain and physically challenging trip, visiting this Wadi would be perfect for you!
Note: I advise you to wear exercise gear but ladies steer away from shorts that are extremely short or tight. Most men swim with their t-shirts on and only wear a bathing suit if you are alone as to not offend the conservative local culture.
Check out our video on visiting Wadi Damm!
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How to get to Oman from the UAE:
-You can drive through the Hili/Khatam Al Shikla/Meyzad border crossings. These are ones I have done myself or my friends have done in the last year. None of us are GCC nationals.
-You can fly with Salam Air for around 600AED round trip leaving Dubai Airport Terminal 2.
-You can take the plush Mwasalat Bus from Abu Hail Metro Station, Dubai Airport Terminal 2 or Rashidiya Metro Station to Muscat. A round trip ticket to Muscat will cost you 90AED.
Visa for Oman:
GCC residents qualify for a 28 day GCC Residents’ Tourist visa (50 AED). Check requirements for your passport and apply through the official site which you can find here.
Where to stay:
We elected to stay in Nizwa at a home- style hotel called Antique Inn. It’s a traditional Omani style home that’s been turned into a hotel. I loved the cosy feel! Its costs around 400AED a night for 2 people.
Have you ever been to Wadi Damm? Or is it on your list? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to drop me any other questions about visiting this gorgeous place!