Located at a distance of 1,010kms from the capital city of Muscat, Salalah is the capital of the Dhofar governorate in the south of Oman. Come Khareef season, and the place is a busy hotspot of tourists from all around the country and the Middle East itself. This is thanks to the constant rainfall that transforms the otherwise hot and humid place during the rest of the year, to a lush and verdant hillstate for a period of three months from July to September.
Travelling by road from Muscat to Salalah can be a daunting experience as you have to sit through a journey of 12 hours. On an overnight journey, it is in the early morning that the spirit of Salalah starts kicking in as one enters Thumrait and is greeted with a blanket of mist. The topography metamorphoses from unending boundless expanses of empty vastness to gentle rolling green Dhofar Mountains. The rod-like straight road suddenly starts meandering, and groups of grazing camels dot the sides of the road.
The beauty of Salalah lies in its capacity to offer varied and diverse sights and sounds of nature. Replete with sensuous leafy hills and turquoise beaches, the capital of Dhofar presents the best of both worlds. Here are some of the choicest destinations around Salalah to give you a profoundly satisfying summer vacation:
A picture-perfect landscape that is a photographer’s delight, Mughsayl affords breathtaking views of lofty mountains kissed by raucous waves lapping at its feet. It is a much sought-after attraction among the crowds and during the peak season it is flooded with people. A perfect picnic spot for families and large groups.
It is known for its blowholes, which are gaps in the rocks through which water from the sea shoots up due to air pressure. Stand on top of the slatted covers and get drenched in the fountain of water! Climb up to the Marneef Cave to get astonishing views of the Mughsayl beach and surrounding mountains.
Time required: Two to three hours
To visit or not: Mughsayl is a must-visit for everyone who visits Salalah.
At a distance of 16kms from Mughsayl, on the way to Dalkut, lies a gem of a hidden secret. A sharp downward turn to the left from the main road leads a 6km graded road. The journey down the path itself is mesmerising as it allows fascinating sights of mountains and rocks. Don’t be surprised if the course to the beach seems much longer as you lose yourself to the charming surroundings. Fazayah is one of the most exquisite beaches in Dhofar. A rocky beach, the shore is littered with boulders of all sizes. During the rainy season, the sea can become quite rough at this beach and one must therefore exercise great caution in venturing into the waters.
Time required: Two to three hours
To visit or not: You will feel blessed to have experienced this place! Not to be missed!!
A recommended spot on almost all tourist itineraries to Salalah, the magnetic point is a spot that will actually amaze you with its gravity defying characteristic. Aptly named, the place is a sloped road where you can witness your vehicle move up the incline by itself, when the vehicle is either in the neutral gear or even if the ignition is off.
Tip: The anti-gravity effect gets reduced when there are a lot of vehicles, so try getting a spot on that road when it’s less crowded. It also gives you more distance and time to enjoy.
Time required: 20 minutes
To visit or not: It is a one-time visit that doesn’t require much time. Squeeze it in your trip to Mughsayl/Fazayah.
This place is pure magic! Nothing else befits its description for its ability to transport you into another world altogether where you forget where you came from!
Enter sprawling meadows shrouded in thick fog that envelopes you and makes you lose in its bewitchment. The silhouetted trees provide a surreal backdrop and lend an almost ghostly and eerie delight. At peak rainy season, the sun is almost blocked out as you find yourself wrapped in a silent forest-like atmosphere. However, beware of the ground you tread upon as it will be sopping wet and marshy with wet mud, so arm your feet in gum boots or water-resistant sturdy footwear.
The place also harbours another enigma – a sinkhole. While the Bimmah sinkhole near Muscat is the most renowned sinkhole in the country, this lesser known sibling in Salalah is no less in its allurement. Concealed in a jungle of trees and greens, a narrow adventurous trekking path leads to the gorgeous geographic feature.
Time required: Two to three hours
To visit or not: A definite unforgettable visit on your itinerary.
Embark upon one of the most magnificent road-trips in Oman – the ride from Salalah to Dalkut up to the Yemeni border. Covering a distance of over 165kms, the fine roads lead through distinct marvellous landscapes. The expedition passes through coastlines, rolling hills, open fields, deserts, and canyons. One of the best locations is when you pass through the serpentine hairpin bends of the splendid mountain passes. This is where you get up close with the stunning textures of the mountains and get a superb perspective of the canyon.
As you edge closer to Dalkut, be prepared to be swallowed by super thick fog that will slow you down tremendously as you won’t be able to see even the headlights of the oncoming vehicles till they are too close. Use fog lights and horns generously at this stretch.
Entering Dalkut, you will again feel transferred to another land as you find yourself surrounded by wild greenery. A tiny hamlet, Dalkut extends admirable views of the ample sea from its hill tops.
Time required: Requires a whole day. Upto three hours journey by road to reach Dalkut from Salalah. Spend upto three hours as picnic and exploring at Dalkut.
To visit or not: It is a highly satisfying experience for those who love road trips. There is not much to do or see at the destination – Dalkut – itself, as it is the odyssey that is more profitable. Set out with fully charged cameras and be prepared to take videos!
The closest getaway from the town centre of Salalah – Wadi Darbat gives pleasing prospects of nature at its best during the rains. Blanketed in velvety green, it is an ideal picnic spot for families and large groups. It also provides great camping nooks for backpackers. Quaint boulevards, a luscious lake, and verdant meadows welcome travellers weary from the summer heat.
Important: Beware of insects and mosquitos that abound in the rainy season that can hamper your enjoyment; so immerse yourself completely with mosquito-repellent creams and sprays before coming!
Time required: Upto three hours or half a day if you plan to picnic or barbecue
To visit or not: A definite spot on the itinerary.
Samhurum Archaeological Park
Take a break from natural beauty and visit this archaeological elegance. The Samhurum Archaeological Park contains the remnants of the palace of the Queen of Sheba. It is also of historical importance as it lies on the historical path of the frankincense trail.
Visit the Archaeological museum at the end of the trail. Also make time to splash around in the small sliver of the beach nearby.
Time required: Three to four hours
To visit or not: An intriguing experience for history buffs. Recommended to others as well.