With its palm-fringed oases, lush date groves and soaring green mountains, the Wadi Bani Khalid is one of Oman’s most beautiful and serene valleys. The wadi – which is an Arabic term for valley or ravine – can be found in the north of the country, just beyond the town of Al Azaiba. And it’s here that you’ll discover a series of natural freshwater lagoons flanked by high cliffs and lush greenery.
Wadi Bani Khalid is a little-known oasis around 200km from Muscat. While you can drive to the wadi, it is not advisable to do so in a standard car. Instead, you can hire a 4x4 or SUV from either Al Azaiba or Muscat. The drive takes around 8 hours and should be made during the day. Alternatively, you can fly to the nearby airport of Seeb. From there, you can either hire a 4x4 or take a taxi to Wadi Bani Khalid. While the drive to the oasis is around 2 hours, it’s important to note that the wadi is closed to visitors on Thursdays and Fridays.
Wadi Bani Khalid is thought to have been first inhabited by the Nabateans, a trading tribe that lived in the Middle East between the 6th and 2nd centuries BCE. The Nabateans are most famous for the discovery of their trading routes along the Incense Route, which linked the Middle East and Asia with the Mediterranean world, Rome and Greece. However, little is known about their occupation of the wadi. The wadi next appears in the historical record in the 19th century, when Omani tribesmen are said to have settled in the oasis. This date is reflected by the style of architecture found in the adjacent towns of Al Azaiba and Bidiya.
While the natural beauty of Wadi Bani Khalid is reason enough to visit, there are also a number of activities to enjoy while you’re there. Here are a few suggestions. Sailing on the Lagoons: As the wadi is home to a number of freshwater lagoons, it is an excellent destination for yachting and sailing. You can hire a boat from the nearby marina and navigate the waterways, exploring the lagoons and admiring the lush greenery that surrounds them. Exploring the Date Groves: Another popular activity in the wadi is exploring the date groves. The palm trees that grow in the oasis are thought to be particularly sweet and tasty, making a visit to one of the groves a must. Visiting the Wadi Village: Bidiya, the wadi village, is home to a number of historic buildings, including a mosque that was built in the 17th century. The village is also a good place to get a sense of the local culture and lifestyles.
There are a variety of places to stay in Wadi Bani Khalid, including hotels, guesthouses and traditional Omani camps. While there are a few hotels in the nearby town of Al Azaiba, the majority of visitors stay in Bidiya. Here you’ll find everything from basic guesthouses to more luxurious hotels.
Because Wadi Bani Khalid is a natural oasis, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers of visiting. Here are a few things to keep in mind. Wadi Bani Khalid can be visited throughout the year, but summer is the most popular time to visit. The wadi is very popular with Omani families, and it is not uncommon to see groups of people camping in the oasis during June and July. Mosquitoes can be an issue in the wadi, particularly in the summer months. Protective clothing is recommended, as is the use of an insect repellent.
Wadi Bani Khalid is a lush oasis that is home to a number of important sites. It is an excellent place to visit to enjoy the natural beauty of Oman, as well as a glimpse into the country’s culture. From visiting the date groves to sailing on the natural lagoons, there are plenty of activities to enjoy while you’re in the wadi. It’s an idyllic destination for anyone looking for a taste of traditional Oman.