Where Desert Turns Green

Dhofar, with Salalah as its capital, beckons tourists from Oman , the GCC and across the world from June to September when the desert adopts green hues. It is the time of the monsoon season of the South West, called Khareef when the entire Dhofar region is a feast for the eyes as idyllic beaches, khawrs (creeks) and bays, caves, natural springs, mountains and heritage sites overflow with visitors. The government organises the annual Salalah Tourism Festival from July to September around this season.

ADVENTURE ALL AROUND

The popular beaches here are Mughsayl , Raysut , Haffa , Dahariz, Taqah , Marbat , Sadah , Rakhu and Shuymia . At Mughsayl , near Salalah, at a certain point on the land near the sea, a natural fountain is a major attraction . Similarly, the Al Marnif Cave, a major cave system, is a must for adventure lovers. The scenic drive from Al Mughsayl up to Dhalkhout via Rakhyut is exciting as well. A string of natural springs and wadis punctuate this region, including the lovely springs of Garziz, Arazat, Athoam , Sahlanoot, Wadi Muqshan, Wadi Tawi Attar and Wadi Dawka (known for frankincense trees).

My personal favourite is Wadi Darbat in the eastern sector of Jabal Al Qara in the Dhofar Highlands. Wrapped in soft-cotton-wool mist and enveloped with a canvas of green, Wadi Darbat is an ideal place to unwind. The area is replete with beautiful green patches against the backdrop of picturesque landscapes, brooks, lakes and waterfalls. Arzat spring is another verdant sight that attracts hordes of tourists. One of the most spectacular sites in Arzat Spring is the garden of the Diwan of Royal Court Affairs, which is open to the public during this time.

 

FOR HISTORY FANS

Dhofar is also packed with many heritage sites. Al-Baleed, Prophet Ayub Tomb, Prophet Omran Tomb, Nabi Salih camel’s footprints, Khor Rawri archaeological area, etc are few of the favourites. History lovers should visit Khor Rori Samharan, one of the oldest and most important archaeological sites in Oman, or Al-Baleed, a walled city of yore, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Part of Al Balid Archaeological Park is the Land of the Frankincense Museum. The Museum of the Frankincense Land explores the 12th-century trading port, where frankincense was traded across differentcountries. Taqa, known for old, elegant houses of merchants, and Mirbat are two important fishing towns that are worth a visit. At the entrance of Mirbat town, the Mirbat Fort sits on the edge of a small bay, overseeing the endless horizon of its waters.

Bird-watching is another activity in Dhofar if one has time. From coastal khawrs, beaches and cliffs, to irrigated farmlands to thickly wooded wadis these feathered beauties are all prevalent providing a great spectacle. As a souvenir, buy some quality frankincense available for sale from the Haffa souq (market) in downtown Salalah.

WHERE TO STAY

Visitors can now enjoy the Khareef season in style at Al-Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara , the first and only five-star resort in Southern Oman with private pool villas, offering the ultimate in privacy and luxury. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the resort sits on a long scenic beach and boasts three superb dining options, including the award-winning Mekong Asian specialty restaurant.

Guests can unwind in between naturefilled excursions at the world-famous Anantara Spa featuring the region’s only luxury hammam . Daytime outings can be accompanied by a gourmet picnic prepared by the talented resort chefs, allowing guests the chance to dine in some of Salalah’s most spectacular spots. Just 15 km from Salalah International Airport , Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara is the perfect place for relaxation and adventure in Salalah.

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