Wadi Bani Khalid (وادي بني خالد) is one of the most famous wadis in Al Sharqiyah Region in Oman. It has been a well known wadi for a number of years and popular with both adventure seekers and families wanting to have a bit of a picnic. We enjoyed our visit to Wadi Bani Khalid so much that it took the number one spot for “Best Wadi To Visit” from Wadi Al Arbaeen (Wadi Shab is number three now!). This is mostly due to the unique rocks, crystal clear blue pools and beautiful water falls in the wadi. Here, we are referring to the southern part of Wadi Bani Khalid (which the locals call “Al Hayer” الحاير), more on that later.
Path through Wadi Bani Khalid, Al Hayer
Waterfall in Wadi Bani Khalid, Al Hayer
Before You Go:
Just like any wadi visit, you will need:
- Food, snacks and plenty of drinking water
- Swimming clothes and a towel
- Slippers or a sturdy water-proof footwear (something that won’t let you slip!)
- Camera and waterproof bag
- A flashlight if you are going into Muqil Cave.
Inside Wadi Bani Khalid:
Wadi Bani Khalid is the name of the wadi passing through a large area encompassing a couple of villages, and that is why there is a bit of confusion of where the wadi actually is. When we first made our way there, we ended up at Muqil, which has the famous large swimming pool, picnic areas and a small cave network. If you want to actually trek Wadi Bani Khalid you need to go to the southern wadi, Al Hayer, which is near Al Bidah village.
We first followed the road signs pointing to Muqil caves, where the road takes you through plenty of farms and then a large car park. You may find many local kids offering to take your stuff to the picnic area (for a tip). A couple of minutes walk and you will reach a huge natural swimming pool with shades and picnic areas around it, and most likely many people/families having a BBQ and enjoying the place.
We visited the wadi during the weekend and found the place to be absolutely packed with people in the picnic areas, and many more swimming in the water pools. The water was fresh and there were plenty of waterfalls; however, it was not crystal clear and all we could think of while making our way through is how much nicer Wadi Al Arbaeen is in comparison to this area! However, one of the local kids told us that the water is like that because of the flash floods that occurred recently, so maybe you will find them super clear!
Either way, the walk is easy (albeit on slippery rocks) and after 10 mins or so you will reach Muqil cave. Here you will need to really crouch (and kneel sometimes) to pass through, and you will also need your flash light. If you are not very comfortable, you will likely find one of the local kids who will be more than happy to take you in (tip expected). It can be quite claustrophobic and very humid inside. You may also end up encountering some bats and should be able to hear a waterfall somewhere.
There is also a trekking path (E35) marked with the familiar yellow, green and red flags which connects to Wadi Tiwi but it is a serious multi-day hike that you should be well prepared for if you intend on doing it.
After finishing up with Muqil we drove south to Bidah village and explored the proper trekking place at Wadi Bani Khalid. This part actually connects to Sayq further south. One of the locals told us its a 2-3 hour hike one-way but knowing the locals and how used they are to trekking there it is likely to be 4-5 hours long! We did not have time to do that, but after walking less than an hour we encountered some really amazing water falls and crystal clear pools. Suffice to say, we were pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed swimming in the pools here! If you had to visit one of the two locations, this one should not be missed!
How to get to Wadi Bani Khalid:
Take the Dakhiliya route from Muscat heading towards Samael, and then through Wadi Al Aaq on your way to Al Kamil and Wafi. The turn to Wadi Bani Khalid is about 15kms or so after passing Bidiyah, and its another 20 kms to reach the area. From there you can either go north to Muqil or south to Al Hayer (the whole area encompassing Wadi Bani Khalid). At both locations you can start your journey at the car park shown in the Google map below:
View Wadi Bani Khalid – OmanTripper in a larger map
We really enjoyed our trip to Wadi Bani Khalid, and highly recommend it for anyone wanting a bit of a hike and a swim. Of course here we refer to the Al Hayer part, not Muqil.
P.S. Please try your utmost to maintain the beauty of this wadi by not throwing anything during your walk, it is unlikely that the local municipality sends cleaning staff to clean Wadi Bani Khalid so anything you throw will probably stay there for years unless someone voluntarily removes it 🙂