TOPO Canyoning

Snake Gorge Canyon, Jebel Akhdar

Topo published on |


Snake Gorge Canyon
At the top of Wadi Bani Awf, just below the small village of Bilad Seet, a narrow, deep and winding rift joins the village of Zammah: the Snake Gorge Canyon. 180m of ascent for 3 hours of uninterrupted spectacle in a rocky corridor just a few meters high, sometimes less than a meter, in the hollow of fantastic limestone folds, with a hundred meters of wall above your head. An aquatic canyon, with no real way out for the first 2 hours, the descent is challenging but without any major difficulties. Two compulsory abseils, one of them 40m long, a lot of rock-climbing, sometimes jumping if the water level is high enough, one or two of them quite tricky, a lot of swimming, sometimes in narrow winding passages the width of a head and a half, and a sequence under a natural tunnel adorned with stalactites and populated by bats. A great option, even if the water has been disappearing lately...

Technical summary

Type ✦ Water canyon
Location ✦ Bilad Seet, Wadi bani Awf
Region ✦ Jebel Akhdar, Western Hajar
Country ✦ Oman
Difficulty ✦ v3-a3-III
Vertical drop ✦ 180m
Max abseil ✦ 40m
Duration ✦ 3h
Interest ✦ ★★★

Access to the place

By 4×4 from route 13 between El Awabi and Rustaq, enter Wadi Bani Awf. A few km of tarmac road before the track that winds up the bed of the Wadi. Follow Bilad Sayt. Pass Zammah, which marks the exit from Snake Gorge Canyon. Here the track becomes much steeper and climbs to the right, skirting the canyon. A detour around one of the canyon's branches, 2 or 3 aerial passages on the edge of the void.

Leave the fork towards Bilad Seet and continue towards Hat. It descends again to reach a small plateau that leads to the Gorgette. Here, on the right, there are terraces where you can bivouac, a base camp for the area and the starting point for the canyon. About 30 km from the exit of route 13.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 2'

It is reached immediately by following the bed of the wadi. The rock forms a narrow gateway, with a large boulder wedged 5 or 6 m into the middle.

Course 3h

The Snake Gorge Canyon can be divided into 3 parts. The topo shown below is approximate, especially for the location of obstacles. You'll need a 2x40m rope for the long abseil, a cord and a quick link to connect the 1st belay (if the equipment left behind is no longer in place).

Except in midsummer, you'll need a wetsuit, a simple shorty in October/November or March/April, but a full wetsuit in winter, as you'll be spending a lot of time in the water. Beware of the water flow, which can be very high after rainfall.

Part 1: Reminders

From the start to the bottom of the second abseil. It starts with a walk in the middle of the corridor with a few basins to arrive fairly quickly at the R1 placed on the left, belay on a rock on the right. A 5m abseil in a small waterfall leads to a deep basin from which you have to swim to get out. Further on, a large chaotic boulder leads to an opening at the top of the second abseil. The belay is again on the left, but access is a little tricky. The abseil descends a long slide with a bend in the middle to finish above a large basin. With plenty of water, it's possible to jump the last 5 meters.
Part 2: to the fork

A watery walk with jumps and passages to find, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. Lots of swimming and very narrow, shoulder-width corridors. A passage under a huge dolmen-like stone before jumping 3m. The canyon meanders a little to the left and joins the junction with the left branch, a possible escape route for shortening. After 2 hours of descent, we reach the junction.
Section 3: to Zammah

Turning right. Above our heads we can make out the cables of the via ferrata zip lines that cross the canyon 5 times, some 100m higher up. Here too, there are jumps, narrow ones and the twenty-metre tunnel. Depending on the water level, the passage can be made by walking or swimming, or even apnea for a few meters! Stalactites and the strange cries of the site's occupants.

The rest of the canyon continues on foot, with many more jumps. Then the canyon really widens at a sharp bend to the left. Follow the torrent bed to reach the final gorge. If necessary, climb up the left flank to avoid the rocky chaos. Exit by walking in the water between the 2 huge cliffs to reach the village of Zammah, the arrival point and end of the Snake Gorge Canyon.


Join the track that runs through Zammah. Then turn left and walk back to the starting point or hitchhike, with a good chance of shortening the 5km climb.

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

Discover more from Climbing7

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading