best explored on foot
Not far from Wadi Shab is Wadi Tiwi, which is lined by small villages and date and banana plantations. Although the wadi can be accessed by car, it is best explored on foot, with a two-day hike possible across the mountains to Wadi Bani Khalid.
A couple of kilometres south of Wadi Shab lies the almost identical Wadi Tiwi, another spectacularly deep and narrow gorge carved out of the mountains, running between towering cliffs right down to the sea. It’s less unspoiled than Wadi Shab, thanks to the presence of a road through the ravine (although, as at Wadi Shab, the dramatic scenery at the entrance has been ruined by the construction of a large flyover), although it compensates with its old traditional villages, surrounded by lush plantations of date and banana, and criss-crossed with a network of gurgling aflaj.
The road into the wadi was being widened and modernized at the time of writing (and should be complete by the time you read this), running along the valley floor, between plantations and past the rock pools which collect between the huge boulders below. After around 5km you’ll reach the picturesque village of Harat Bidah, where the road narrows dramatically, squeezing its way between old houses and high stone walls. Past here the tarmac ends and a rough track climbs steeply for a further 5km up to the village of Mibam – a spectacular, if nerve-jangling, drive.