I went swimming in the middle of the desert!
No, this is not a riddle, a poem or balderdash. This sentence will make perfect sense when you are undertaking the Wadi Shab Tour in Muscat. Before spilling some philosophical talk on the delight of traveling, I will head straight to reminiscing my Wadi Shab adventures.
The tour commenced in the morning when I and my familia were picked up by an amiable guide. We were such a large group that our tour looked more like a traveling circus. I exchanged pleasantries with the guide and slowly crashed on my recliner seat. When the guide informed me about the captivating scenery on either side of the road that I was missing, I decided to stay awake and relish the enchanting road and the journey ahead.
After a gratifying car ride which lasted for about 90 minutes, our traveling circus reached the entrance of Wadi Shab sinkhole. Near the entrance, the cars were parked under the canopy of date trees. It was such a welcoming sight after an hour-long journey through the arid land. As we got out of the car, we saw a group of goats walking around in the parking space. The tourists were running to the furry animals, yet they stayed nonchalant. They were rather enjoying the cuddles and treats that they were receiving from the travelers. A particularly friendly goat came to me and sniffed my leg and I gave a cozy stroke on his head. He moved away from me and bleated; his loud ‘meh’ can be roughly translated as- do you have anything better than this lousy head massage?!
Our driver parked the car and summoned us to start the trek. So we started walking towards the sepia-colored rock formations. The massive rock formations had cast shadows all over the way and made our trek delightful.
When I reached Wadi Shab, I was pleasantly surprised to see colorful graffiti drawn over the pillars of a bridge, which passes by the entrance of the trekking track. Such street arts and Boho culture are usually seen in the cities and I was not expecting such a delightful welcome at a desert outpost.
As I continued walking, I could hear the sound of babbling water and thus the Wadi Shab adventures commenced on a high note. The trek path was crammed with trees and shrubbery. A beautiful desert breeze kept rocking the branches of the trees as we continued the trek. I could even hear the sound of birds chirping and some other ominous rattling sounds. My brother kept scaring me that the area is packed with rattlesnakes which could turn up any moment in our front of us to say ‘hello!’ But our friendly guide assured me that only pleasant things reside at Wadi Shab Waterfall.
As I walked ahead, the rock formations became more dense and spectacular. Finally, when I reached a ring of lofty rock formations, our guide declared that the trek has come to an end and it was time to swim. Being a hydrophobic and non-swimmer, I told my family and friends that I would stay by the rocks and wait for them to finish the tour. I don’t like leaving things in the middle, but what to do! I can’t risk drowning. But when I saw the turquoise-blue water and my brothers jumping into the enchanting pool, I couldn’t resist getting into the water myself. I dipped my toes in the water and felt enthusiastic and confident about it.
The first set of pools were shallow and lovely. I walked through the water and admired the peculiar rock formations on the way. The humongous last pool and its grandeur was an exhilarating sight. I stood at the entrance of the last pool and felt good for taking up this challenge. My joy turned to dismay when I realized that I need to swim across the large pool. But I decided not to give up after coming this far. My co-swimmers helped me cross the massive pool. Since I was scared, I finished the task at warp speed. Then I reached the finishing point of the trek, the jackpot waiting to be discovered at the end of the trail- The Wadi Shab Waterfall.
When my friend said here is the entrance to the last cave, I was expecting a big and grand doorway. But the entrance to the last cave was a narrow fissure between two giant rocks. I slowly crammed myself in the fissure and realized that the tiny fissure is spacious inside.
When I finally entered the last cave and witnessed the magnificent waterfall, it was a magical sight to behold. The water crashed to the rocks with all its might and created a heart-warming symphony. I stretched my hands and tried to float over the water surface. My body was so calm and my mind was devoid of any stress that I could float like a cloud. After swaying to the movement of water for some time, all I could hear was the sound of water and all I could see was the shape of water. That is where I found bliss, inside the Wadi Shab sinkhole!
After leaving the cave, our group assembled near a clearing and sat for some time in silence. A cool breeze caressed as I was contemplating how divine the life on Earth is. This was such a tantalizing experience for me and I am sure it will be the same for all. This Wadi Shab day trip from Muscat is something everyone should try out.