Wadi Taab: A pearl hidden in the heart of Oman’s mountains

When I woke up in the early morning of a Friday about two weeks ago, I didn’t think that I would embark on an adventure that would challenge me and my not-so-good relationship with heights. At four in the morning, I was with a group of people who came from different countries — Egypt, India, Philippines, the Netherlands and Oman — traversing the road that would take us to the mountains and the yet to be fully explored wilderness of Al Sharqiyah Governorate.

We’ve fixated on exploring Wadi Taab that day, located about 20 kilometres inward from Fins village. All in all, it was about two hours drive from Muscat and since the road towards the wadi is unpaved, a four-wheel drive was necessary.
I’d been going to different trips like this — hiking and trekking with different people who all have the same love and passion for nature and outdoor adventure. It is on one of these trips that I realised that hiking trips are where people are at their finest — where they are not separated by borders but are all hiking in the same land towards a common destination.
Our kick-off point for the hike started close to the Taab village. I was told that the track was short and that the whole trip would take us about seven hours in total.
Calculating the number of hours needed to complete the trip, I presumed early on that there would definitely be some difficulties along the way and I wasn’t mistaken.
One of the leaders of the group who organised the trip was Gabby. It was him who was responsible for preparing us and arranging the essential things we need — from harnesses to helmets and the ropes.
We were also told that there will be abseiling. Up to what extent, I was confident at first that it was something that I can do.
But not quite.
For the first abseiling part that we have to do, we were on top of this fifty-metrecanyon. Just looking down from the top brought a certain discomfort that I can feel the adrenaline rushing through my blood.
I did some abseiling once but it was an easy 20 metres climb.
As I would discover, it wasn’t only me whose first time to do an abseiling at the height we were at. As I looked at each of the participants’ faces, most of them have the same look that I did. Although we did not express any fear or regret, the tension was readable in the faces.
While going down, I was told not to look down. But I did anyway. There was a reason they warn people to avoid staring at the abyss because as I peered into the deep cavern below, my mind was racing.
Inside my head, I was gushing, “My goodness this is really deep and now I am handed over to the rope.”
Seeing how others did it and with little experience, I slowly lowered myself down the rope. It was sometime during this abseiling that I felt good and considered it a truly a great experience.
As I reached the ground and looked up, it was the only time that it dawned on me how high 50 metres was. It’s not an ordinary distance and any mistake will definitely have catastrophic results.
Meeting Philippine adventurer Reylan put a little bit of perspective on the adventure we just embarked on. He was very excited about successfully climbing down from the rope.
“I had seen pictures from a friend (when they went on their own adventure) so I was prepared. But experiencing it myself is great,” he said.
From the first abseiling point, we alternated from long swims and more trekking. There was a point we have to swim about 200 metres which led to some participants to wear life vests.
An advice to those who will go on their own adventure, it’s better indeed to wear a life vest if you are not a good swimmer because the swim tracks may overwhelm you.
The view and the different abseiling heights were impressive. It was heartwarming to know that not many people get to see this view because of the level of difficulty to access it and I was proud I was one of them who have gotten the opportunity to explore it.
The abseiling which led directly to getting into cold pools was a truly new experience for me. Along the way, we saw waterfalls thriving with plants everywhere that one would definitely say it was a paradise.
As it is their home, some locals had been going back and forth easily on Wadi Taab. We also saw beautifully colored viper that just like the locals, hid fast when they noticed we were approaching.
There are several pools that one has to get on and off and with the water being deep and chilly, it is something one has to prepare for both physically and mentally.
Freediver Ahmed al Rawahi was in his elements moving from one obstacle to the other but a few of us, like Solomon from Egypt including myself, has to take our time to get accustomed to the challenges around us.
Eventually, we would get on this track called ‘tobe’ — one of the most difficult stretch because it takes about eight hours to finish.
Now that I have to think back of my adventure in Wadi Taab, I can say that it is a pearl hidden in the heart of Oman’s mountains. It offers varying degrees of difficulties — from narrow passages where it was very difficult to pass to high canyons you have to go down from but conquering it and successfully exploring it gives one a certain level of happiness. For again, not everyone is able to explore this part of the country.

Peter Varenkamp