TOPO Canyoning

Wadi Tiwi, Eastern Hajar

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Oman's most beautiful canyon? Probably one of the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye: from the small village of Umq Bir, the 6-kilometre Wadi Tiwi forms a splendid corridor of white rock at the end of an impressive parade of orange-coloured walls, before opening out towards Mibam and the Arabian Sea. A very aquatic canyon with countless basins and long reaches to swim in blue or green-green water, an incredible passage in the heart of a cave under a waterfall, the setting is absolutely fantastic. With no real obstacles or difficulties other than the need for strong shoulders to swim hundreds of meters, it's a kind of top-of-the-range aquatic hike. An exceptional canyon! See Tiwi and die...

Technical summary

Type ✦ Water canyon
Location ✦ Umq Bqir, Mibam
Region ✦ Hajar Oriental
Country ✦ Oman
Length ✦ 6kms
Vertical drop ✦ 100m (?)
Difficulty ✦ v2-a4-V
Max abseil ✦ 15m
Duration ✦ 8h to 10h
Interest ✦ ★★★

Access to the place

On route 17 from Quryat to Sur, pass Tiwi, then Qalhat and just after, turn right before a large bridge (obvious). Follow this track steeply uphill and further up turn right towards Hallout. Continue over a plateau before climbing to pass a mountainous shoulder and plunge towards Hallout (very fine view of Tiwi just ahead on the right). Pass the village and, at the bottom, turn right into the village of Wadi Bir. Follow the stream bed to catch the track that rises on the right-hand side. Follow it, if practicable, to the end and park. You're just above Umq Bir and can see the entrance to the canyon.

The logistics are complicated by the need to organize the return trip (or outward journey) from Mibam. Being 2, we went to Umq Bir the day before and booked a cab to return the next day (70 rials). The best thing is probably the opposite, sleeping in Mibam and being dropped off in Umq Bir very early in the morning with an Omani.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 30' à 45'

Head straight down the old, broken trail, then head straight for the entrance, weaving in and out of terraces and boulders to reach the white slabs. Jump into the 1st large basin and head for the entrance with your feet in the water. Alternatively, from the parking lot, take the marked path to the right of a tree, which leads to the village below. Cross it and continue along the right-hand side to reach another small part of the village below, and then descend to reach the entrance directly.

Course 7h à 8h

Basically, all you have to do is follow the stream bed and swim, swim a lot! Wetsuits are especially useful in winter, but also to protect knees and elbows, especially as you'll be in the shade the whole time. There are plenty of reaches to swim, some of them very long (perhaps 200 or 300m). Make sure you have a 40m rope and enough to re-equip the 2 compulsory abseils (straps, quick links, pitons and bungs). The cave passage can be bypassed at the top to make a 40m abseil, in which case you should bring 2x40m (but the passage through the cave is exceptional, not to be missed!). Numerous jumps to be made between 2m and 5m, 1 of which seems to be compulsory.

Another option for accessing the canyon is to climb up the Bedouin trail via the ledges and attempt to do the full Tiwi! Needless to say, access is epic, mega-committed and the loop is a bit of an extreme adventure.

Abseil 1 (15m)

Quite quickly, on a large boulder on the right-hand side, the equipment suffered: only 1 spit in average condition.
Abseil 2 (5m)

Further on the left, but avoidable with a jump of about 5m (points not checked).
Rappel 3 (in the cellar, 15m)

After about 2h30 of walking and swimming. Fabulous entry under a waterfall, then into the half-light. The belay is placed on straps around a boulder on the right (to be checked and possibly doubled). We then go down a slide that ends at the bottom in the water. On the other side, a blue-green pool and cascades of tepid water... paradise.
The siphon

The next landmark is the passage through a giant siphon on the left after 5h30 of progress. After a bend to the right and a final big turn to the left, the canyon opens onto a wider valley. End of the canyon, beginning of the return journey.

Back

Locate a large cave (or rather, a large crack forming a vault) under the left-hand wall and pass under it to find the path. Climb up on the left to stay above the wadi and avoid going into the bed of the Tiwi wadi, where it is very difficult to make headway due to the number of huge boulders. The trail is more or less marked (a few cairns) at first, but is then well traced and leads quickly and easily to the village of Mibam.

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