you've ever driven the road from Dibba to Ras Al Khaimah via Wadi
Khabb Shamsi and Wadi Bih, you'll know what an interesting journey
it is. If you live in the UAE or are just visiting, then this
is a trip that you really must do. The drive is exciting, and
the scenery spectacular, but to merely drive through, with the
occasional stops for photos or picnics, is only scratching the
surface of what the area has to offer. Make the effort to leave
the car behind and venture away from the road on foot, and you'll
soon see what I mean.
Up above, apart from even more breathtaking scenery, there are
dozens of farms scattered around, all linked by a network of footpaths.
The way these farms are operated, and constructed in such a hostile
and barren landscape is truly astonishing. That anyone could survive
up here without electricity and running water, is a miracle in
While enormously impressive, the first part of the drive through
the deep gorge of Wadi Khabb Shamsi with vertical cliffs either
side, can feel a little threatening, so much so that it's with
some relief that the road eventually climbs out of the wadi and
begins the climb up to the pass. While travelling through the
gorge you can only shudder at the thought of the violence that
must be unleashed here during a flash flood. You are given the
impression that you are in a deep canyon cut straight through
a mountain which might tumble down on top of you at any moment.
However, that's a false impression because high above you are
the banks of the gorge which are themselves at the base of the
surrounding mountains. The banks of the gorge are, surprisingly,
low rolling hills which provide many spots suitable for farming,
albeit on a small scale. When viewed from the top of the peaks
the most striking feature in this area is the agricultural development
scattered around, with the mighty wadi gorge a barely discernable
groove across the landscape. These are the secrets of this fascinating
area, and they remain secret to those that stay in their vehicles.
So how do you get up to experience these hidden valleys? Well,
when you travel through the gorge, you've probably noticed large
water tanks at various points along the roadside. These are not
there for you to top up your radiator, but are provided by the
government for the people that inhabit the farms and settlements
high above you. This is the clue as to how to escape the depths
of the gorge because close to each of these tanks is a track,
footpath or staircase leading up the cliffs.
A group of friends, and I recently ventured up one of these staircases.
Look out for the story of what we found.
Above Wadi Khabb