Salalah – Dhofar : What to see and do
Dhofar, the southern province of Oman is isolated from the rest of the country by a thousand kilometers of rocky desert (1042 km from Muscat to be exact). It is truly a country within a country with its own microclimate, landscapes and cultural heritage. If you are curious to know more about the lost region of Dhofar, this post is for you!
The province is particularly famous for its annual monsoon (“Khareef” – summer months). While the whole Arabian Peninsula is suffering under scorching summer temperatures, Dhofar benefits from a tropical micro-climate which attracts thousands of visitors each year. If you have the chance to visit the area at the beginning of the monsoon season, you will witness its formidable transformation from dry desert land to tropical green oasis. Amazing nature!
What to do and see in Dhofar
- Visit Salalah : Second largest city of Oman and birth town of Sultan Qaboos bin Said. It’s a great place to discover Dhofar own traditions and cultural heritage.
- Museum of the Frankincense Land : Frankincense is an aromatic resin, symbol of Dhofar. It is one of the consecrated incenses and was traded on the Arabian Peninsula for more than 5000 years!
- Al-Husn souq : Ideal place to feel the atmosphere of the old days in Dhofar. Buying some Frankincense is a wonderful (and traditional) gift idea.
- Tropical fruit plantations (corninche) : Salalah with its unique microclimate is famous for its tropical fruit tree plantations (coconuts, bananas, papayas,..). Stroll along the corniche and stop by one of the many fruit-stands on the way.
- Lost city of Ubar (“Atlantis of the sands”) : According to the legends, Ubar was a magnificent and extremely wealthy kingdom (“streets made of gold” kind of wealthy). Mentioned in the Quran, the kingdom was destined to be lost. Punished by God, the Frankincense capital of the ancient world got buried in sands… Fascinating!:)
- Wadi Dawkah (Frankincense trees) : UNESCO heritage link
- Tawi Atayr : Beautiful sinkhole! Do not miss : Not so far from Tawi Atayr lies an even bigger sinkhole called Taiq Sinkhole, the third world’s largest sinkhole.
- Prophet Job’s tomb : Located on a hilltop near Salalah, it is a must-see when visiting Dhofar both for the spectacular drive/view and the cultural/religious importance of the site.
- Ruins of Sumhuram : Archeological site featuring the ruins of Sumhuram, major trading city of the Frankincense road.
- Khawr Rawri : Pristine creek near the ruins of Sumhuram. Paradise…
There are many other places to visit in Dhofar such as stepping into the Empty Quarter desert and its majestic sand dunes, blowholes, waterfalls,… I wish to have more time to explore more of this fabulous region and share it with you!
If you have been to Dhofar or are living there, I would love to hear about your tips and favorite places to share them with other travelers and to visit them myself someday.
(Credit for the beautiful pictures to Ekaterina Zheleznova. Thank you!)
Travel agency : Dhofar Discovery Tourism. They offer a 6 days tour for 520 OMR (tips from a reader)
If you have traveled with other agencies, I would love to get your feedback to share with other travelers.
To get there
- By plane : Daily flights from Muscat. You can rent a car in Salalah.
- By car : This is a very long drive (a thousand kilometers). Make sure to check with your car rental company that you have the “unlimited kilometers” option included. Refill your tank (gas, water) at every station you pass by! It can be a long way till you reach the next one (and they sometimes are empty).
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