TOPO Canyoning

Wadi Qasheh, Sayq Plateau

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Major canyon. Equipped by Khaled Abdul Malak, Wadi Qasheh descends for almost 6 km from the Sayq plateau to end its course in Wadi Tanuf more than 1000 m below. The descent is long, very vertical with numerous abseils, several of which are 60m or so long, and aquatic even if the flow is rather torrential. Even if the equipment is rather minimalist (belays on 1 point or to be mounted on natural anchors), Wadi Qasheh is a little gem from one end to the other, with splendid views from the top and some fantastic abseils in surprising rock formations. Difficult to do over 2 days, camping just before the 3rd abseil to avoid spending 12 hours in a row, which we did. 2 exceptional days, 5-star canyoning!

Technical summary

Type ✦ Water canyon
Location ✦ Al Kuhoof, Sayq Plateau
Region ✦ Jebel Akhdar, Western Hajar
Country ✦ Oman
Difficulty ✦ v5-a2-V
Max abseiling ✦ 60m
Duration ✦ 12h to 14h (2 days)
Interest ✦ ★★★

Access to the place

To reach the starting point at Al Kuhoof village, head back towards Nizwa and take route 23. Turn towards Birka AL Mouz and jebel Al Akhdar. There's a checkpoint (4×4 compulsory and driver's papers checked). Drive up and, just before Sayq, turn right towards Hotel Alila. Further on, take the track on the left before a building, then turn down again towards Safi Sahra. Pass the village and take the 1st track on the left, which passes under the village and ends at Al Kuhoof (see Google map). Allow 1h30 from Al Fara' to Al Kuhoof.

You need to organize the junction between the start and the finish. We camped at the bottom, a little before the village of Al Fara' and a driver took us up in the morning to start the canyon at around 11am and finish the next day in the late afternoon. To reach Al Fara', take the road from Bahla to Nizwa and turn towards Wadi Tanuf and climb up to the ruins. Immediately afterwards, on the left, the track enters the canyon (end of Wadi Qasheh). Pass the dam, then cross the wadi bed at the bottom to follow the stony track as far as possible. Park at the final parking lot, just before the village of Al Fara' (camping site just before).

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h30 à 2h

Exit Al Kuhoof to the south and reach the edge of the large hole. There are steps and then a well-marked path down the wall to the right towards the lower terraces. Just before passing through the small gate leading to the terraces (well worth the detour, but no way out), turn left into the stony gully and descend to reach a pool of translucent green water below the terraces, under a large sloping waterfall (a few passages to be climbed). Continue a little further to reach the 1st abseil at the top of a large waterfall over 50m long.

Course 6h à 7h

South-west facing, but very little sun. With a lot of water, the wetsuit is very useful, especially in winter, and protective anyway. A 2x60m rope allows you to go everywhere, but an extra 40m saves time on short abseils. You'll need to bring along some retreading gear, straps, quick links and, if necessary, black pads and bolts to (re)fix. 11 abseils in all, fairly close together or even linked from the 3rd, including 4 large ones between 40 and 60m, most of them ending in the water. If the route is obvious, there's no way out before the end of the canyon.

Rappel 1 (40m, 2 points)

We descend beside a large trickling waterfall with a spider-wire passage in the middle. End on the side of the basin, so dry.
Rappel 2 (60m, 1 point)

What an abseil! Not difficult, but very original, in a sort of sloping, sculpted tunnel that ends in a small 1.5 m basin, almost unavoidable unless you traverse out to the left (not at all easy, especially with a bag and descender to manage. Not 1m more rope, 60m all round. There's then 4m to go down the slide, landing on rocks, so make sure you're on the edge for a safe descent.
Transition

The wadi Qasheh opens up and there's a bit of walking between the boulders to reach the 3rd abseil below. Justa ahead, a small camping spot on the left. From this point on, the canyon becomes narrow and steep.
Abseil 3 (12m, 1 point)

1 ring behind a large boulder to descend a sloping rock. Finish on the right on a ledge and swim out 10m.
Rappel 4 (12m)

Just after 50m, another small abseil on the right, with no difficulty. We then walk a little in a small corridor of water.
Rappel 5 (20m, 2 points)

2 points this time, a bolt and a strap around a rock. Nice descent along a trickling waterfall and final swim in the water for about twenty meters.
Rappel 6 (10m)

No equipment found. We can use a pebble wedged between 2 boulders to descend 5m to the left (or right with another pebble?). We walk a little more to reach R7.
Rappel 7 (38m)

No installation seen here either. The abseil can be set up on a large white boulder above the waterfall on the right. Fantastic abseil (which seemed to me to be over 40m?). Big dive along a superb waterfall full of water and under a huge boulder stuck there. End in a long, well-filled basin. Swim straight to the edge of the R8.
Rappel 8 (50m, 2 points)

Another splendid abseil. Large open cascade with a trickle of water today and classic finish in a large pool.
Rappel 9 (12m, 1 point)

Very soon after the waterfall, 1 point to the left and 12m inclined without difficulty. Then the canyon becomes more open, with the prospect of a large corridor dotted with boulders and small pools of water. Easy walking and unclimbing to R10.
Rappel 10 (10m, 1 point)

To get over a jump between 2 boulders, dry finish! Keep walking until you reach a large boulder in the middle of the Qasheh wadi, marking the final abseil.
Rappel 11 (15m)

To the right of the boulder, 1 nail to a narrow pool to swim a few meters. End of canyon and difficulties.

Back

You then enter a narrow stone corridor. Even the way back is beautiful. Weaving in and out of the water, de-escalating and walking along this winding corridor. Gradually, the ground becomes drier and finally, after a number of pretty bends, you emerge from the canyon proper. It opens up and soon we reach the village of Al Fara' and the parking lot.

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