If you hanker after an escape from the heat in the north of the Arabian peninsula, and fancy some soft rain, light mist, and clement weather conditions which prevail from approx. the end of June, thro’ July until early-September, why not think of heading to Salalah in the Dhofar region of Oman?
So where exactly do these mild weather conditions occur? The monsoon rains water an eight-kilometre wide plain which runs along 130 kilometres of the country’s 560-kilometre coastline that overlooks the Arabian Sea. Salalah lies on this plain. Along a 75-kilometre stretch its slopes are cloaked in greenery when the south-west monsoon brings rain.
OK, but how do you get to Salalah? Oman Air has frequent flights Muscat-Salalah-Muscat (RO126 Business, and RO64 Economy) taking approx. 90 minutes, or you can take a 12-hour coach journey (RO12), or of course hire a vehicle and drive yourself but this too will take around the same time.
Now, what is there to see and do? Well first of all, the annual Salalah Tourism Festival has lots to offer and this year it is slated to begin on around 2lst June and finish just as the Holy Month of Ramadhan starts on 20th July 2012.
We suggest you head first to the old city which is confined to the area called Haffa. This is where you’ll find the Sultan’s palace, and the souq or market place where frankincense, perfume, oils and brightly-coloured burners are sold. The shops are run by the ladies of the region, each of whom has a secret recipe which has been handed down through the generations.
Next for a bit of history – why not visit the Land of Frankincense Museum which is situated in the Archaeological Park at Al Baleed. It presents a brief history of Oman in two sections: the first – The Frankincense Hall – exhibits history and archaeological findings. The second – the Maritime Hall – contains models of Omani boats and shows the association of the Omani people to the sea.
Salalah and Dhofar are historically famous for the frankincense trade. In fact ‘The Land of Frankincense Sites’ were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in October 2000. The frankincense trees of Wadi Dawkah and the remains of the caravan oasis of Shisr (Wubar) and the ports of Khor Rori and Al Baleed vividly illustrate the trade in frankincense which flourished in this region for many centuries. All four are on the List.
What else is there to see –
- Prophet Job’s Tomb (Nabi Ayoub)
- Taqah fishing village with its fort, towers, and stone houses
- Khor Rori (close to Taqah) – one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Wadi Darbat – a natural park with scenic views of mountains, caves and birds. A great spot for a picnic especially when waterfalls occur
- Mughsayl beach where ‘blow holes’ (perforations in the limestone rock) through which sea water spouts during high tide.
- Wadi Dawkah valley which lies in the Nejd area, behind the northern slopes of the Dhofar mountains
- Mirbat castle and harbour – some 70 kms from Salalah
- Hasik – 3 hours drive from Salalah. This must be one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world
And not to be missed – the fruit stalls – why not stop for a fresh coconut juice. Just delicious!
In Salalah there is a choice of hotels from 5*, to guest houses and apartments – so you can select according to your pocket or credit card. Or why not have a look at Oman Air holidays – and arrange a package: www.holidays.omanair.com – they’re great value.