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Wadi Bani Awf & Snake Canyon

Jul 20, 2014 by     45 Comments    Posted under: Al Batinah, Natural Attractions, Outdoors, Uncategorized, Wadi

Wadi Bani Awuf (1)

Wadi Bani Awf (وادي بني عوف), also spelled Wadi Bani Awuf, is a large wadi in wilayat Al Rustaq in the South Batinah Governorate of Oman. The wadi covers a large area with several villages and lots of cool attractions worth visiting, including the famous Snake Canyon! The route through Wadi Bani Awuf goes through beautiful scenery and connects all the way to Balad Sayat in Al Dakhiliya region by crossing the Hajar Mountains and offers some of the best off-road driving experience you can find in Oman.

We referred to the Oman Off-road Guide during our visit to Wadi Bani Awf (which is a great book that we highly recommend for anyone wanting to explore Oman with their 4WD) and managed to visit the “smaller” Snake Canyon. You can’t refer to Wadi Bani Awf as a single attraction due to the large area it encompasses so we we will attempt to break-up the places we visited in this post.

Wadi Bani Awuf (7)

Inside the Little Snake Canyon

Start of Wadi Bani Awf

You will enter Wadi Bani Awf by turning on the signpost off the NakhalAl Rustaq road, the road is paved but after a few kilometers it becomes graded as you pass through a couple of villages.There are spots you can stop and see but the first place we stopped was a few kilometers after the village of Al Tikhah where the track opens up to an expanse of wadi rocks. On your right you will notice an opening through the rocks to a small route. Here is a good spot for anyone wanting to camp as there are a few trees offering good shade, but obviously you need to be aware of the risk of flash floods.

We explored the route hoping to find some water, but it was completely dry although the rocks we found there were just amazing. We wish we had a geologist with us to tell us how they form, but these rocks were like wood panels, and made some really stunning formations. You can continue exploring this area, but we stopped after we reached a local house near a small hill. Do check out MJ McMahon’s website for geological explanation of some of these formations, some great information there!

 Wadi Bani Awuf (3)

Wadi Bani Awuf (4) Wadi Bani Awuf (5)

Little Snake Canyon

We continued on the graded road until we reached an intersection with signboards. We took the left turn to stay on Wadi Bani Awf (the road that eventually leads to Balad Sayat and then Al Hamra) and a few kilometers after the signboard we found the entrance to the Little Snake Canyon just off the graded road.

Wadi Bani Awuf (6)

Wadi Bani Awuf (2)

Entrance to the Little Snake Canyon

The canyon is covered on both sides with very high cliffs giving you an appreciation of the vastness of this place. There are some huge boulder stones and small waterfalls that you need to scramble through as you trek but the coolest place is the long water pool about 1 hour after the hike. This pool is almost 50m long and is probably the narrowest point of the canyon, it was really fun swimming there but also really cold because the place gets little sunshine due to the high cliffs covering it!

The Little Snake Canyon may not have amazing waterfalls or places to jump in the pools (unlike Wadi Shab or the proper Snake Canyon) but it is a fun place to visit and because of the relatively short trek, it is an ideal stop for people who are tackling the Wadi Bani Awf to Balad Sayat off-road track.

Please keep in mind that many of the boulder stones here are super smooth  and can be very slippery, so do have proper footwear and be prepared just like a trip to any other wadi in Oman.

Note the people trekking there!

Note the people trekking

Wadi Bani Awuf (9)

Start of the long pool, can you see the ending?

Wadi Bani Awuf (10) Wadi Bani Awuf (11)

Al Zammah Village and the Snake Canyon (Wadi Bimmah)

We did not plan to go through Wadi Bimmah (aka the Snake Canyon) during this visit as we did not have the equipment and necessary preparations to undergo this adventure trek! The wadi is quite large and due to the canyon shading the water pools, water temperatures can be very cold especially as the wind blows through the canyon. This is a proper canyoning adventure that you should probably attempt only with a guide if it is your first time. It involves jumping into several water pools that you are unable to climb back from, and you will be exiting the canyon at another end from where you being with (near Al Zammah village).

Wadi Bani Awuf (12)

This is just off Al Zimmah village, where the end of The Snake Canyon trek brings you

Wadi Bani Awuf (13)

Overall, we found Wadi Bani Awf to be an awesome place to visit, and we will definitely be visiting again to explore the Snake Canyon!

How To Get To Wadi Bani Awf

Wadi Bani Awf can be reached off the NakhalAl Rustaq road. The smaller Snake Canyon is almost 20 kms from the turn, and you can find it by going forward past the street signs pointing to Balad Sayat, you won’t miss a large canyon on the rocks to your right a couple of kms after that. Park your car on the right (or off the graded rock going to the left) and head into the Little Snake Canyon.

The larger Snake Canyon can be reached from Al Zammah village (remember there is a start point and an exit point for the Snake Canyon trek!).


View Wadi Bani Awf – OmanTripper in a larger map

Wadi Bani Awuf (14)Wadi Bani Awuf (15)Wadi Bani Awuf (16)

45 Comments + Add Comment

  • Dear Ali,
    You are doing a brilliant job of spreading the love of nature with your blog & photos! I am in Dubai for past 14 years & how I wish I was in Oman instead!!! You are lucky to have such beautiful places around.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for the kind words Milind 🙂 We’re just trying to show beauty of Oman and make it easier for people to visit and explore new places. Dubai is only ~500 kms away, so weekend trips are very doable 😉 Thanks for your support.
      Ali

  • HI Ali,

    Thank you for all your posts… I am in Oman these for 3 weeks and your blogs are helping me alot… Good job buddy.

    • Thanks Adeel, glad it helped 🙂

  • Amazing shots , I am really impressed
    With the nature and your efforts in showing
    All of us the beauty of this country.
    God bless

    • Thanks 🙂

  • We did it last year in October from Al-Hamra to Al Awabi: it took 4 hours, including a short visit to Bilat Sayed.
    Glad we did it, but I wouldn’t do it again!!

    • That’s great, I understand why you wouldn’t want to do it agian 😉

  • Do you really need a 4×4 for this trip? Thanks in advance for the kind reply 🙂

    • Hi Noa,
      Yes you’ll need a 4×4 for Wadi Bani Awf 🙂

  • Which is best time to visit Wadi Bani Awf & Snake Canyon??

    • Hi,

      Winter time would be the best time to visit in my opinion (Nov-Feb), but you have to be prepared as it can surprisingly cold especially since if you’re swimming in the water. You also need to check the forecast beforehand since the area can flood easily if there’s rain.

      Ali

  • Hi,

    I love the layout of your website/blog!

    You mentioned you wished you had a geologist with you. I am working on a virtual filed trip of Oman Geology and have posted a few high resolution zoomable images from Wadi Bani Awf with explanations which might be helpful.

    Wadi Bani Awf:

    http://gigapan.com/gigapans/ce4abc4b3d003f2dbbb27d2877616c49

    http://gigapan.com/gigapans/167938

    http://gigapan.com/gigapans/8aadddb6ee7559e40ffd4c192196857f

    http://gigapan.com/gigapans/c7dbed3b68e8df5867932f0f05aab390

    Other Oman geology images are available for view at:

    http://gigapan.com/galleries/11835/gigapans

    The images at this web page are not in any particular order, but the virtual field trip, due out in 2016, will put all the images in context.

    Cheers,

    MJMC

    • Hi Michelle,

      That is amazing, thank you for sharing the information with us. I’ve put a link to the images in the post.

      I look forward to checking out the virtual field trip when its out!

      Ali

  • Hi,
    I’m visiting Oman again for a week. Thinking about trek in Snake Canyon. Does it require any special equipment? Could you please send me a GPS location of start and end point? How long does that trek take?

    BTW, I also run the travel & photo blog and have some posts and photos from my last Oman trip (2013), unfortunately only in Polish at the time. If you’re interested in some informations, ask me anything :-).

    Regards, Szymon

    • Hi Szymon,

      Great photos on your blog, I’ve shared it on our facebook page.

      Unfortunately I do not have exact GPS coordinates of the whole trek, the information from the google maps I posted are as close as I could locate it (I believe the Oman Off-road book had the coordinates but I don’t have it with me now to check sorry!). As for equipment, I understand you should take safety helmets, ropes and harnesses to be safe, as well as personal flotation devices. I advise you go with someone who knows the place or with a tour company (Oman Dive and Adventure centre arranges trips there and provide necessary equipment).

      Let us know how it goes and enjoy the visit 🙂
      Ali

  • Start of snake canyon: 23 deg 21.41 N , 57 deg 23.04 E

    Don’t have the figures for the exit but if you leave a vehicle someone in Az Zammah you’ll be fine. As for kit, well, it depends on the individual I guess. Sandals and swimming trunks at one end of the scale, right up to full mountain exploring kit at the other! Just know that everything will get wet so dry bags are required if you want to take your camera. I’m doing it for the first time next month but have been discussing it in detail with the ex-pat who’s running it.

    I’ll let you know how I get on!

    (Did Wadi Bani Awf last weekend, absolutely fab. Highlight was leaving the car and waking through the canyons to the village of Balad Sayt, once again don’t try it if you don’t like getting wet!)

    • Thanks for posting this information Stephen. That sounds fantastic, and looks like you are well prepared to take on the canyon! Are you going with guides or doing it with friends? Let us know how it goes 🙂
      I am yet to do Snake Canyon myself and really hope to be able to do it sometime in November (when I am back permanently in Oman).

  • OK did the canyon last weekend. Fantastic fun but the water level was a little low. We took a climbing rope and needed it three times. Without it we’d have had to turn around almost straight away. We didn’t use a guide but every adult bloke (4 of us) is ex-military so has done this sort of thing before. I’d be happy to take people now but the first time I recommend going with someone who’s done it before. You jump into the wrong pool and you’re going to break your legs! The guys who brought their young daughters made them wear helmets but no-one else did. One point of note, you must be a confident swimmer even wearing boots, rucksacks etc. Even with a low water level there were parts were you had to swim and there was nowhere to rest. With the channel dropping to a few feet wide if somebody panics then things can get unpleasant very quickly!

    • Hello

      I have done plenty of climbing before and am set to head to do the Upper Canyon walk next weekend, weather permitting. I have a 60m rope and a range of belay kit out with me, is this enough? Are there belays set up? (eg some not too old climbing tat) Is 60m long enough, eg a 30m double rope, to get down the drops? It looks amazing and can’t wait.
      Cheers

      David

  • Many thanks for sharing your experience with the Snake Canyon Stephen. It’s good to keep in mind that it’s not a straightforward place to explore and good preperation must be done before attempting it! Your description makes me want to visit the place even more, but I definitely need to find a guide. Perhaps let me know if you attempt another trip soon and if you’re looking for others to join 🙂

  • Can we do a trip like this (one night) with 2 toddlers?

    • Hi Nathalie,
      I wouldn’t recommend doing the trip with toddlers. Even the drive might be too bumpy for them!
      Cheers,
      Ali

  • Hi,
    Would like to know how much a guide would cost and if anyone could recommend a good guide. Sis and I would love to try it for the Christmas hols. Thanks.
    Evi.

    • Hi Evita,

      I realize this is not useful now as its after couple of months from your question, but I hope you managed to find a tour guide for your visit! (I had issues with receiving comment notification and only got to read your comment today).

      Best,
      Ali

  • May I use your photo of the entrance to Wadi Bani Auf and Snake Canyon? It is for a book I am writing about the years I spent in the Middle East. Wadi Bani Auf was a favourite place, near our temporary home at Rustaq. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

    • Dear Dr. Jane,

      Apologies as I had been extremly busy and haven’t been able to see comments on the blog for the past couple of months. You can contact me on my email ali@omantripper.com about the photo you want to use, I can provide a higher resolution image for your use.

      Best,
      Ali

  • Hi there,
    we (3 persons) will come over to oman beginning of february and would like to go the snake canyon mid of february. anyone with similiar plans in that time to do it together ?
    any good guides to recommend ?

    greetings, kevin

    • Hey Kevin,

      Apologies for delay to get back to you, I had issues with receiving comment notifications. Did you manage to go to the snake canyon?

      Best,
      Ali

  • Hello we want to do the trip on our own (without the guide) – of course with 4×4 car is it safe? I am a bit scared 🙂 how long usually the trip take, thanks a lot

    • Hi Lenka,
      With a 4×4 you should be fine, but please remember it depends on the weather conditions. Make sure you check the forecast before you go as you don’t want to be there when its raining! The length of time depends on what you want to see. If you just want to do the crossing by car (something which I haven’t actually done completely myself as I only went from one side half-way and returned), I’d say allow at least 2-2.5 hours 🙂

      Hope that helps,
      Ali

      • Hi Alimsk thanks a lot, can u recommend some page for weather forecast where we can check(if there is some omanian page…) recently, there have been some floods so we have to be careful…we are going next friday…i have one more question regarding malaria risk, i have read something about that, do you thunk its risky? Thanks a lot

        • Hi Lenka,

          The best source to get weather updates is from the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), you can check this link: http://www.met.gov.om/opencms/export/sites/default/dgman/en/home/ but also check their twitter account as they update regularly there: https://twitter.com/OmanMeteorology

          In addition, it is worth checking with The Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) if you’re worried, but I can’t find their English website, their contact details can be found at the bottom of this page: http://www.pacdaoman.gov.om:8080/

          Regarding Malaria, I honestly don’t have any idea but its not something that I am aware to be an issue 🙂

          Let me know how the trip goes, I am actually hoping to go there too in the coming weeks 🙂

          Hope that helps,
          Ali

  • Bonjour Ali
    How long does it take to cross wadi bani awf from al awabi?
    Thank you

    • Hi Julie,

      I haven’t actually done the full crossing to be honest, only did a bit from both sides. But if I was to cross it I’d allow 2-2.5 hours for the crossing 🙂

      Best,
      Ali

  • If you are planning to drive the complete route, check the weather and that the road has been repaired.

    We tried to cross from Nakhal to Nizwa using Wadi Bani Awf on the 8th March using a 4×4. The weather was sunny but it had rained the previous day. Several parts of the track had water in them, some quite deep and the track was difficult to follow in some places. We managed to visit Balad Sayt and then carried on towards Hat and the paved road at Sharaf Al Alamyn. Just past the falaj, we were stopped by some local people who told us that the track was impassable. They had abandoned their 4×4 and were walking to Hat. We decided to turn around and go back. a lucky decision as the area had the worst storm in living memory 30 minutes after we left the wadi.

    The new Explorer Oman Off-Road book is on sale at the WH Smith shop in the airport’s Arrivals area after customs, priced at 23 Rials. Well worth getting.

    • Hi Linda,

      Glad you hear you made it out there safely, it is a very dangerous to be if you’re there during floods!

      And I definitely second the Oman Off-road explorer book recommendation, its a great guide!

      Ali

  • Hi

    Great pics and article.
    Do you have by any chance contact detail (phone) of a company organizing trips through the Upper Snake Canyon ?

    Thanks

    • Hi Leon,

      Unfortunately, the only people I’m aware of who do the guide are the guys at Muscat Diving and Adventure Center. You can google and find out their details. I am in the look-out myself for any other guides organizing trips there as I am yet to explore it properly!

      Best,
      Ali

  • Jus need a suggestion….There are two ways to reach Bilad Sayt…one is via wadi bani awf (Rustaq route) and the other one is via Nizwa route…Which is the best route (safe route) to reach bilad sayt???
    I am planning this weekend…..Somebody please let me know…

    • Hi Mali,

      I hope someone can help you with that question 🙂 I attempted part of the route from either side without completing it, from my experience the one from Al Hamra/Dakhiliyah side was a bit more difficult. But please keep in mind that from that route I managed to visit Balad Sayt, while when I drove though Wadi Bani Awf I did not make it all the way to Balad Sayt (because I didn’t have enough time), so I am not sure if the road gets harder.

      Hope this helps!
      Ali

  • Jus nw saw ur reply, thanks…

  • […] almost half-way through the mountain path connecting Al Hamra to Nakhal/Al Rustaq through Wadi Bani Awf, and is adjacent to “Snake Canyon”. Balad Sayat is a stunning village in picturesque […]

  • There’s a lovely walk through the waterfall gorge to Bilad Sayt. It’s more exciting when one has to wade through water, but spectacular even with only a little water. Coming from Wadi Bani Awf to Hat you will pass the road to Bilad Sayt, but ignore that and carry on ’til you see a cliff to your right and a gorge to your left. Go towards the cliff and you will see the waterfall. There is a steep path up the side of it to the gorge on top. Many locals use the route and frankly, if there’s a lot of water, you need to see how they go through/around it. Trekking poles are useful to keep one’s balance.
    Oman is a fabulous place. My husband has lived there for 28 years and I visit every Xmas. If you want a pretty wadi to walk up which isn’t known to many, try Wadi Qurai. You can walk along much of it on the side of a falaj.

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