A Land of Emerald Pools

In a land filled with wadis, it's often hard to choose which ones to visit. Because Wadi Bani Khalid was well and truly on the tourist map I was a bit sceptical as to whether it was worth the stop. As we passed four wheel drive after four wheel drive on our way in one late afternoon, that scepticism mounted, but I couldn't help admiring the setting as we drove. When we got to the parking lot we were pleased to see that most of the visitors had left. We just wanted to have a little look and planned to return for a proper visit the following morning. After the ten minute walk in the emerald pools of the wadi began to reveal themselves. We took some pictures and admired the reflections cast in the pools, but I can't say I was tempted to get in. The pools looked a little murky and over-loved to me, and that first afternoon we didn't really venture far into the wadi.
The site of the lower pools at Wadi Bani Khalid

The site of the lower pools at Wadi Bani Khalid

The lower pools

The lower pools

The next morning we were back at the wadi bright and early after a night of wild camping (finding a good spot and sleeping in the back of the 4WD), and were delighted to find we were the only ones there besides a couple of friendly locals. 
Sunrise over the wadi

Sunrise over the wadi

We decided to do the hike into the wadi and set off following a rather dubious path. As we walked we started to pass some glorious pools. We kept on going until we found one lovely pool that we could easily get into without risking life and limb scrambling over too many rocks. The water was shallow where we entered and we soon found our toes being nibbled by little 'spa fish'. This wasn't really my cup of tea, but lots of people pay good money for that kind of treatment! We still had the place to ourselves so we swam a bit farther into the deeper waters of the wadi. We'd been told you could swim clear to the cave, but we were happy with our little piece of paradise. After about 40 minutes we decided it was time to dry off and head back. Walking back we passed a few other tourists heading to the pools, but it was still pretty quiet. We stopped for a chaina'na (mint tea) at the little cafe and watched the tourists start to flow in. Even thinking about it now, I smile as I remember the hour or so that we had Wadi Bani Khalid all to ourselves. If you go, go early for an experience you will never forget!
Near the cafe

Near the cafe