Guide to Snake Canyon at Wadi Bani Awf
There are so many attractions in Oman for adventure lovers. They all have their unique features and activities to charm the tourists. If you are an adventure lover and specifically love canyoning, there is one place you would not want to miss. This place is none other than the gorgeous Snake Canyon.
Snake Canyon, locally known as Snake Gorge or Wadi Bimah, is the largest natural water park in Oman. This canyon is within Wadi Bani Awf wilayat Al Rustaq in the South Batinah Governorate of Oman. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country containing some breathtaking tall cliffs, narrow adventurous paths, and blue pools.
There could be some challenging moments in the whole journey. This article will tell you everything you need to know about Wadi Bani Awf Snake Canyon Oman. Some considerations before the trip will spare you from any potential danger.
Snake Canyon Location
You will find the detailed location of Snake Canyon if you search Wadi Bani Awf location on Google Map. It is possible to reach Wadi Bani Awf from both Al Batinah and Al Dakhiliyah’s sides. The distance of Snake Canyon from Muscat is 150 kilometers. It will take around two hours and fifteen minutes to reach there.
If you start your journey from Muscat, you have to drive through Nakhal towards Al Rustaq. After crossing Al Awabi village, turn into Wadi Bani Awf. After 20 kilometers, you will reach Al Zamah village, the exit of Snake Canyon. From here, you have to cross another six kilometers steep path to find the entrance which is also known as the Right Fork.
Most of the tourists know this place for breathtaking adventurous activities. However, the whole journey has a lot more to offer. It will give you some of the best and most priceless off-road experiences in Oman. If you are a motor-minded person, you will remember this trip for sure. There are many scenic backgrounds and tall narrow cliffs that add a whole new dimension to the place. There are also some gorgeous villages connecting the road. You can spend some quality hours vising them. Snake Canyon is accessible from multiple villages like Mibah, Hatt, and Al Zamah.
Things to Do
The whole trip to Snake Canyon is full of breathtaking adventures. Whether you want or not, you will have to face many of them to finish the pathway. It includes trekking, abseiling, jumping into the pool, sliding through smooth polished rock surfaces, and many more. The routes are the result of the carving of the rocks caused by water erosion. Somewhere they are extremely slippery that you will find it difficult to grip. So, you always need to be careful while jumping into any pool from any angle or traversing through some tricky points.
You will see the narrow path of Snake Canyon with impressively high cliffs on both sides. There are areas as wide as 30 feet and at some places, it is as narrow as 2 feet also. You can even touch the sides by keeping your arms outstretched at those points. All of them will take the test of your stamina and courage at the same time. There is a long pool of about 200 feet inside the canyon. Swimming there will be a lot of fun. The whole journey is full of surprises with fun and they will appear one after another. You will not feel bored for a single time. If you possess the minimum standard of fitness level, you will have one of the best experiences in your life for sure.
The “Right Fork” Snake Canyon
This is the most popular route to take since it will give the taste of the whole Snake Canyon Package. Things we mentioned a bit earlier- trekking, abseiling, jumping into the pool, sliding, this path has them all. The starting will be a jump into a pool from a cliff of 5-6 meters high. This is a one-way route. Once you jump, there will be no heading back. You will have to finish the entire path. You can take the challenge to measure your ability and overcome the hiding fear inside. This is the most fear-inciting time since it is at the very beginning. So, take adequate mental preparation. There is an alternative option too which is- abseiling down the stretch. You can go for this if it is the first time you are doing something like this.
You will have to trek some distance after the pool jump. There will be several other pools and swimming is the only option to pass through them. It will be followed by two more pool jumps of short height and two downward points of 15-20 meters, where you will need to abseil down with the help of ropes. Halfway through the journey, you will discover a stunning cave formed with limestones or stalactites. Depending on the number of people you have in your group and how many times you take stoppage on the way, this path will take something between 4-6 hours.
The “Left Fork” Snake Canyon
The Left Fork Snake Canyon will start further down the place, unlike the Right Fork. It is more of a traversed path with less distance to cover. Not many adventure lovers follow this route. The prime reason may be there is no abseiling or rope requires to cover this path. Moreover, the unfortunate part is the water level of Snake Canyon is gradually decreasing over the past few years. Many of the pools here are becoming shallower than their previous comparison reasoning there are fewer slides and jumping options. Besides, the water of some pools lost transparency and was filled with murky water.
However, this also covers a bit of adventure. You will have to do two cliff jumps and there will be no turning back. This makes it a one-way route like the former one which ends somewhere in the Al Zamah Village. This path will require about 2-3 hours and connect the main Snake Canyon route after one hour.
You have come to the most crucial part. You may think Snake Canyon is just like other adventure destinations in Oman. However, that would be a mistake since some dangers and risks are involved with the place. Among them, the notable few things are- flash floods, slippery rocks, deceptively shallow pools, and big cliff drops. There have been some causalities in the past due to not giving attention to the safety rules and flash floods. These are the few considerations you should have before coming to this place for safety purposes. They are:
- Knowing the flash flood warnings and potential forecast
- Know the path in detail based on the latest water level
- Taking necessary gears like ropes, gloves, harness with a descender, life jacket, helmet, and their correct use
- Knowing the location of the hooks and tying place for ropes and also check whether they are workable or not
- Taking the help of a professional guide throughout the journey
Now, it may seem like a lot harder task to accomplish. But with the help of a perfect guide, it will be a one-of-a-kind experience for sure.
Suitable Time to Go
You can plan for a trip here anytime in the year. Choosing summer is preferably the wisest option. Keep in mind that due to the narrow canyon opening, sunlight can barely enter inside. Thus, in winter, the water of the pools becomes quite cold. It will be hard to swim at that time. Also, avoid the trip if there is a chance of rain. The canyon floods super quickly and makes it a dangerous place within no time. You can take the guidance of the Royal Oman Police. They constantly observe the weather condition and warn people about the potential dangers.
- The name Snake Canyon is given probably by English-speaking tourists because the canyon bends like a snake. However, this is not the identity of the locals and they may not like it either. The local name of the place is Seer Al Zamah. Referring to this would be better if you ask for help from a local for directions or something.
- The path towards Snake Canyon is narrow and steep and a 4WD is a must. Even if you take a 4WD, you will face difficulties if you are not comfortable driving through steep mountainous roads. Taking an expert driver is the wisest option.
- It is better to go there in two cars. Keep the other one at the exit spot of the Al Zamah Village for easy transportation.
- Always take the help of your guide before jumping. The water height may deceit you since they are not that clear. A professional guide will know the jumping places and ways to measure the height accurately.
Apart from the trekking gears mentioned above, there are a few other things you should carry on this trip. An important thing is suitable water-permeable footwear with adequate ankle support and a suitable grip. Tennis shoes with grip may work but keep in mind that you will have to swim wearing them.
Also, swimming and trekking will be wearing the same cloth. Try wearing something that will dry quickly. Wet-suit will be suitable in cold weather. Avoid anything loose since it will create problems during abseiling and you may get stuck with the rope. Don’t forget to take an extra set of cloth for the returning trip.
The temperature inside is not that hot and the water level of your body will stay up for long. Yet you can take some snacks and a water bottle considering it’s a multiple-hour adventure. Take a waterproof bag for your camera and gadgets if you want to take some pictures inside the canyon.
Camping and Staying Place
The nearby area of Snake Canyon is also familiar for camping. There are few spots near Al Zamah Village where camping is possible. You will also find some flat areas ahead of Al Bimah village, near the Left Fork entrance. You can take camping gear there and enjoy the nights. For a comfier experience, you will find accommodation facilities at Bimah House.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need any physical training before going there?
Physical training is not essential to go there. You can even cover it without moderate fitness with the help of safety gear. However, if you are unknown with outdoor physical activities, make sure you go there with an expert.
Is the canyon suitable for children?
We would not recommend going there with baby children considering all the trekking and swimming. Teenagers can go and have fun with other family members.
Is this place accessible with a motorcycle?
The roads are steep and dumpy and aren’t suitable for motorcycles. You must bring a 4WD if you plan a trip there.
Snake Canyon, in the true sense, is a perfect example of what an adventurous spot should be. You can come here on a day trip or plan for an overnight stay.Above all, it is the dream playground for any outdoor adventure lover.