Thursday, March 4, 2010
Wadis in Oman
A wadi is a dried up riverbed found in the mountain valleys. Wadis come into their own after heavy rains, when the rivers start running again and the vegetation is restored. However, some wadis have year-round running water, with deep, cool pools in which it is quite safe to swim if the currents are slow. On the whole, wadis are only accessible with a four-wheel drive vehicle, as the terrain can be extremely bumpy.
Wadis are green, lush oases of palm trees, grasses, and flowering shrubs. It is always safest to visit wadis in a group or with a tour guide. Although they are beautiful places, they are often remote and car breakdowns can happen to anyone. Visitors must also be on the alert for rain clouds, as sudden downpours can lead to flash floods, which are highly dangerous when in the gorges.
A wadi is very dangerous if it is taken lightly, especially during rain. Imagine an empty pathway that gets filled with water in no time, during rainy days. In a region of deserts, one ought to wonder about the might of Mother Nature that pumps millions of gallons of water from nowhere.
People who do not realize the dangers of wadi, especially foreigners, are the most vulnerable victims. One does not have to dumb enough to go for the swim on a rainy day. One could get washed away along with their vehicles (no matter how huge and powerful the four-wheel drive is) if they are not patient enough to wait for the wadi to slow down.
Wadis are not necessary in the forest. Out of nowhere, you might come across a wadi on a drive in a highway. Even some of the local people, sometimes, have been consumed by these wadi just because they ignored the warning and crossed the wadis in their four-wheel drives. The crazy part is that the victim's bodies and their vehicles might be found, if lucky, perhaps, several miles away, after a few days.
But, if you plan your trip carefully, it could be one of the most memorable experiences of your lifetime. I have seen such locations only in movies. I was lucky to go for a picnic to a wadi which is in the picture on the right. Imagine swimming all morning....chicken curry and rice by the banks of the wadi.....a nap......then swimming.....It was wonderful and memorable......