Wadi Bani Kharus


Famed for its geological interest, this dramatic wadi has only recently become readily accessible to visitors with the construction of a paved road along the entire length of the wadi bottom. The entrance of the wadi is marked by a small, restored fort, Al Awabi Castle, from where the road leads towards the village of Al Aliya, 24km into the heart of the mountains. The whole road makes for a fascinating drive.

A number of pretty mountain settlements are dotted along the length of the wadi, including Stal village with its terraced fields; Sana village with its market gardens anchored to the rock by retaining walls, and Ain Karfas, which features an ancient aqueduct. At Al Markh, there's a pair of venerable old houses that have towered over the plantations for centuries and are much photographed today – to see them, you have to park and walk down into the wadi bottom.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

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1. Petroglyphs

0.51 MILES

At the first bend in the road that leads through Wadi Bani Kharus from the village of Al Awabi, there's a great slab of smooth pale-grey rock on the…

2. Al Awabi Castle

1.15 MILES

Functioning less as a sight in its own right, picturesque though it may be, this fort as an excellent landmark for the slightly obscure entrance into Wadi…

3. Wadi Bani Awf

3.47 MILES

This spectacular wadi is a major artery through the mountains and often flows year-round with spring water. It looks particularly gorgeous when mountain…

4. Thorn Tree Copse

5.21 MILES

Where the paved road through Wadi Bani Awf ends, a magnificent stand of trees comes into view. These are Ziziphus spina christi, or 'Christ thorn trees' –…

5. Rock Arch

8.38 MILES

Referred to locally as a rock arch, this striking natural feature is in fact a fissure in the cliff. There is just enough space at the bottom of the crack…

6. Qasra Museum

9.56 MILES

Tucked into the unlit and crumbling old quarter of Rustaq, behind the fort, this unique museum is the personal project of the owner, Zakia Al Lamki. Left…

7. Rustaq Fort


Two cannons mark the interior courtyard of this enormous fort – the entrance alone signals its former importance. Built on top of pre-Islamic foundations,…

8. Hatt

9.95 MILES

This traditional mountain village is something of a landmark along the remote off-road route from Wadi Bani Awf to Sharfat Al Alamayn. With the most…