Wadi Bani Khalid Oman is one of the most famous wadis in the Sultanate and after seeing the pictures below you will understand why. A short walk takes you to large emerald pools and a narrow zigzagging canyon filled with giant white boulders. Fancy a swim? Below is my travel guide to help you plan your visit.
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Wadi Bani Khalid - one of the best wadis in Oman
Let's start with a short video showing you the beauty of Wadi Bani Khalid with its big white boulders and emerald pools. You will also see what it is like to swim in the top pool accessible by a 10 min hike.
Contrary to most wadis in the Sultanate, Wadi Bani Khalid has been developed for tourism. However I am happy to report that it remains tasteful. Plus the narrow section with the white boulders and the zigzagging work of erosion remains wild because you can't access it easily.
You can also go further into the Muquil cave. I did not because it is just a cave, but if you like those, just hike a bit further.
Discover more images from Oman on my post - Oman in Videos
PLANNING TIPS - Wadi Bani Khalid Oman
Wadi Bani Khalid Location - Map
- To get to Wadi Bani Khalid from Muscat is a bit out of the main road, you have to make a detour
- It is located West of the town of Sur (see my guide) and North of the sand dunes of Wahiba Sands (see my pictures)
- Muscat to Wadi Bani Khalid carpark - 3h15
- Sur to Wadi Bani Khalid carpark - 2h
- Wadi Bani Khalid is actually very long so google maps does not show you the touristy part of it.
- From Road 23 between Al Wasil and Al Kamil, turn into Wadi Bani Khalid. 30 min drive from the main road. You will cross villages.
GPS coordinates, easy-to-plan maps and practical info in the eBook:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
Wadi Bani Khalid Tour
And if you don't want to drive, know that Wadi Bani Khalid can be visited on a day trip from Muscat with a guide in combination with the Sand dunes of Wahiba Sands - Check out options
Visiting and Swimming in Wadi Bani Khalid - facilities
- 10 minute easy walk from the parking to the first large pool
- 10 min walk to the second system of pools, a little bit more challenging. Careful, the rocks are slippery
- 10 more minutes to get to the Muquil cave (you need to kneel and have a flash light)
- Toilets at the back of the restaurant
- Restaurant available with buffet and cold drinks
- This is a place frequented by locals, you should cover your self even when swimming (T-shirt and short/leggins for example), especially in the main pool
- If you can avoid the weekends (Friday /Saturday), it will be less crowded
- I gets really hot, don't forget to protect your head and drink water.
- If you do not want to swim, you could just put you feet it and enjoy a spa session. The pools have those small fishes that eat our dead skin
- Longer multiday hikes are available in the area
Wadi Bani Khalid hotels and places to stay
There is no hotel or accommodations that I have seen in the canyon.
- My first choice: continue your road trip and go spend the night in one fo the Wahiba sands desert camp - check out options inside and around Wahiba Sands
- or stay in the town of Sur and head to the turtle reserve - check out the accommodations in Sur
- The closest town is Al Kamil Wal Wafi but it does not have many accommodations
- Regarding camping - it is never a good idea to camp in a Wadi as water can suddenly appear and rise quickly - there can be flash flood - DO NOT camp in Wadi Bani Khalid.
Remain safe - flash floods and accident
Flash flood can happen in wadis (even though they look very dry). There was a big one in May 2019.
So make sure you respect the signs and follow any warning that is given.
Road to Wadi Bani Khalid Oman
Driving along the river bed... The road is not difficult.
Even before reaching the site itself, the drive is fascinating. Big white boulders have rolled into the river bed.
The advantage is that water flows in this very long wadi all year round so there are lush plantations all the way.
At the end of the drive you will find a large parking area where you have to stop before continuing on foot.
From the carpark to the first pools
It is a short easy walk to the first pool of the wadi which is quite large.
As you can see it has been developed but with taste and restraint (as always with Omani people). A restaurant has been set up before the entrance to the narrow part of the wadi. The toilets are at the back.
You can go swimming in this one already or just get your feet in the water for the fish to eat your dead skin. If you go swimming, don't shout, they will be tingling 🙂
I really recommend to swim either here or in the upper section. it is very refreshing.
View from the bridge
To reach the restaurant, they have built a small bridge over the wadi which gives you a chance to get a glimpse of what there is to come.
Sadly the sun was high and my photos cannot give justice to the place.
Hiking in Wadi Bani Khalid - pictures
The short hike takes you between the white cliffs along the turquoise water flowing in the opposite direction. Be careful the rocks tend to be slippery.
Then you reach a small waterfall. That marks the limit to the upper pools
I was lucky it was very quiet when I visited. But it can be quite busy, especially during the local weekends.
Swimming in Wadi Bani Khalid - upper pools
I think this is the highlight of Wadi Bani Khalid. The water is transparent with small peebles at the bottom. It gets really deep and there is nowhere to hold so if you venture into the canyon you have to be a good swimmer. The swim is not that long but the experience wonderful. It is such a peaceful place and I just love swimming...
Here again you have those small fish tingling you. Don't jumps out of the water!
So happy to have purchased by GoPro with waterproof case for that trip!
I had a floating grip attracted to my wrist, so it was very easy to swim with it and not worry about losing the equipment!
Wadi Bani Khalid Cave
You can keep walking after to reach a cave called Muquil cave; 10min more of walking.
Don't forget to bring a flashlight.
I am not a big fan of cave so I did not go.
The Restaurant at Wadi Bani Khalid
The restaurant offers a buffet lunch including a cold drink. The food was not wonderful but it was eatable and I could enjoy the view in the shade. They serve until quite late (4PM I think)
I would recommend bringing a picnic and finding a nice spot though.
The drive to and from the Wadi is also really enjoyable. It gets up and down. Here is a shot though the windshield
Want to see more of Oman's beauty?
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Have you ever had your dead skin sucked by fishes?
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