Wadi Bani Awf is famous for the Big Snake Canyon or Snake Gorge and the village Bilad Sayt. Read several reviews prior to setting out for this trip and all the reviews I read are saying that the road is dangerous, steep and narrow. I am not an experienced off-road driver hence I can’t venture on this trip without any co-pilot.
The trip was finalized on 15th May, one of my Fun Fridays (this is my weekly ritual) and since my car is a 3D 4WD, can’t take more than 3 persons including the driver as it would be uncomfortable. We set for Wadi Bani Awf relying on the information gathered from the web and the GPS on the phone.
We took the Nakhal- Rustaq road and entered Wadi Bani Awf, the road was paved for a few kilometers, passing through villages with green date plantations and rock mountain at the background.
Finally we reached the graded dirt road and after some distance it was like another world. In some part of this planet, dried leaves is a sign of approaching winter, but in Oman, dried leaves means the scorching summer heat is around the corner.
Along the way, we spotted some vehicles parked at the bottom of the rock mountain, and we decided to stop knowing and hoping that there must be something interesting in this place. We entered the opening of the canyon, we assumed that this must be the little snake canyon however, we decided not to walk further as the heat was unbearable, it was almost noon time hence the sun was exactly on top of our heads, if we arrived early morning or mid afternoon, the canyon itself would have protected us from the sun. We met the vehicle owners as they were coming out of the canyon. We inquired if they found water, they said that they didn’t go far.
Here is the entrance of the canyon and notice the rock formation………….
We found very little pools of water which are also drying due to the high temperature of the coming summer. Water creatures are struggling to live in their small world without knowing that in the next few days, this water will be absorbed by the thirsty ground.
We continued the drive until we reached a small village, small in the sense that I didn’t see even 10 houses there, there was a road on the right going up to the mountain and driving straight was a dead end road to the canyon. A Zahara Tours Landcruiser drove past us heading to the canyon, we followed him. We get off the car and took some snaps, we spoke to the driver guide of the Landcruiser and found out that they are heading to Bilad Sayt where we would like to go as well. We decided to follow him.
The drive to Bilad Sayt was steep and winding and with sharp bends hence a 4WD is a MUST for this trail. The view was spectacular and driving through this road was a mix of excitement, exhilaration and satisfaction of wanderlust.
We reached the entrance of Bilad Sayt, the well known village of Wadi Bani Awf. It is recommended to park the car on top of the hill where we stopped and approach the village by foot according to Abdullah, the driver guide of Zahara Tours. As we cannot stand the heat of the sun, we just took photos from where we were and afterwards followed Abdullah again taking the route to Al Hamra – Misfat Al Abriyeen.
We drove down the descending mountain road passing through another river bed with date trees around, then the road went up again. This part of the journey offered panoramic views of the mountain with shrubs protruding out and insisting to go to the surface of the rock mountain which looks like a polka dots of green when viewed from afar. There was a question playing in my mind, “Am I in Oman?”
After maybe half an hour driving through the ascending and winding road, we stopped at Sharafat Al Alameyn where there were several cars parked and some built their tents for a picnic. To our joy, the temperature was lovely cool after coming from the heat, a very relaxing atmosphere while inhaling the cool wind through my nostrils and awakening the senses. The only drawback to stay behind was there was no provision of shade to sit and we were not prepared as we didn’t expect to find this place. This would have been the perfect place for the lunch break surrounded by these wonders!
The mountain trail that we took and viewed from Sharafat Al Alameyn.
We again followed Abdullah’s vehicle, we continued the winding and descending road to Al Hamra but this time it is paved and smooth. We reached Al Hamra and hoping to get a shade under a tree but we did not find one unless we walk through the village of Misfaat Al Abryeen, meaning we have to take out our stuff from the car and carry them until we found a place to picnic. All of us were hungry as it was already 3PM in the afternoon, we drove back and the first shade we found was a car park of a government building and ignoring the hot air, we spread the mat and laid down the packed lunch.
Our picnic feast, Biryani Rice (an Indian cuisine) with boiled egg and Chicken Adobo Aloha, a variation of Filipino Adobo (a meat either pork or chicken stewed in vinegar and soya sauce with garlic and black pepper). After a little bit of “siesta” (rest or nap after lunch), we drove back to Muscat through Nizwa.