Would you like to experience off-road driving in Oman?
How to get Wadi Bani Awf? How is the road?
On our way from Muscat to Jebel Shams, we decided to drive through the Wadi Bani Awf. It is a wadi that covers a large area with several small villages and lots of beautiful attractions including the Little snake canyon and the well-known Snake Gorge canyon, one of the most popular destinations for canyoning and adventure lovers in Oman.
Wadi Bani Awf offers some great off-road driving with beautiful scenery and stunning cliffs and canyons throughout. In some points of the wadi, the dirt road is steep and could not be that easy to drive if you are not a confident driver and it’s recommended a 4WD vehicle.
Coming from Nakhal side and driving along the road nr. 13 (Nakhal – Rustaq), a few km after the village of Al Awadi, you’ll find on your left the junction to Wadi Bani Awf (a brown sign marks the road).
After that, the road is paved until the village of Al Tikhahfter that it becomes dirt as your drive into the Wadi but still at the level ground and average elevation.
Following the dirt road, after a couple of kilometers, at some point you’ll see a junction on your right, keep your left and go on for other 3 kilometers , until you’ll find on your right side the Little Snake Canyon wadi entrance (Google maps: little snake canyon – GPS: 23.240599, 57.437118).
There are no signs that point this wadi, but you can notice that because it’s a big split in the rock and close to it, you’ll find a junction (on your left side).
Despite the fact it’s not spectacular like other wadis, it’s worth stopping by and exploring during your drive through Wadi Bani Awf.
The Little Snake Canyon is lined on both sides with high cliffs, and on the path, there are some big boulder stones that you need to scramble through as you hike and the most beautiful place is the long water pool in a narrow point of the canyon that you can reach after 45 minutes of easy hiking.
The water level depends on the rains, and unfortunately, during our visit, it was almost dry. Going on with your drive, after 5 km, you’ll reach the small village of Al Zamah (google maps GPS: 23.216483, 57.403900) where, on your right, it starts mountain road that is the toughest stretch of the drive and extends to Shorfet Al Alamin Pass.
This path is quite steep with really tight bends on tough terrain, and the elevation range is about from 600 to 2000 meters when you reach Pass.
At some point along the road you’ll spot on your left side (right below you) the narrow gorge of the Snake Canyon, then you’ll meet the junction to the beautiful village of Balad Sayt (it’s well indicated with a sign and next to a football pitch – Google maps: Bald Sayt – GPS: 23.192350, 57.388141).
We spent there 45 minutes, and it was worth it because Balad Sayt reflects the atmosphere of the Omani people who live away from the capital.
The village is perched in a picturesque valley with green plantations and dense palm groves surrounded by high mountains. We stopped the car close to the mosque, and we walked through its narrow alleys and traditional houses until we got to the old watchtower where the view of the entire village is fantastic.
After getting back on the dirt main road, the path starts to get much steeper, probably the most challenging part of the drive, as the elevation continues to go up until you reach Shorfet Al Alamin at about 2.000 m where the road become tarred again (Balad Sayt – Al Alamin takes 50 minutes drive – 13 km).
|Need to know|
The Wadi Bani Awf mountains crossing can also be done in a reverse way, starting from Al Hamra side and ending at Nakhal side.
If you want to try this fantastic off-road experience, we highly recommend a 4WD car, and you should also be a confident driver to ensure your safety above all along the steep dirt road because in some points could be a bit hard.
Anyway, drive with care as we did and you’ll do it. The most challenging part of the road is from the junction to Balad Sayt to Al Alamin Pass because it is quite steep.
Be also careful to the traffic in the opposite sense because people living in these villages are used to drive here, so they whizz about at top speed (in case give way).
The dirt road from Tikhal village to Al Alamin Pass is 30 km and considering the stop at Little Snake Canyon and Balad Sayt (plus a picnic lunch and some stops for taking pics), it takes around 5 hours to complete it.
You won’t find any bar/restaurant throughout the wadi so be sure to bring with you food and water.
If you use google maps, remember that in some point of the wadi there is no 4G service, so the most useful thing is to set Balad Sayt or Shorfet al Alamin before entering the wadi since the map will work offline as well.
And remember, travel safe! Get your Travel Insurance!
Check our itinerary through Oman to find out the most beautiful place in the country.