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.
Inside the Little Snake Canyon
Start of Wadi Bani Awf
You will enter Wadi Bani Awf by turning on the signpost off the Nakhal–Al 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!
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.
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
Start of the long pool, can you see the ending?
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).
This is just off Al Zimmah village, where the end of The Snake Canyon trek brings you
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 Nakhal–Al 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!).
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