Best visited during Khareef season, the Summer months of monsoon when the mountains take on a beautiful hue of green, Salalah and its surrounding is a haven for nature lovers.
The starting point of this trip is a trip to explore its amazing marine life. The Hallaniyat Islands are home to many dolphins, whales, coral, and other marine life. There are also several wrecks in the area, including the famous Vasco Da Gama wreck, the Esmerelda.
EAST OF SALALAH
East of Salalah are some of Oman’s most interesting attractions, including Wadi Darbat and Mirbat. With its lake and, during the Khareef season, mist-covered hills it is a sight to behold and believed to be one of the most scenic spots in Dhofar. Here, children can go for a small boat ride.
Considered to be one the largest solvent sinkholes in the world, Tawi Ateer is a haven for bird watching enthusiasts and those that want to learn more about nature. You’ll soon see how appropriate it is that the name literally translates to The well of birds’.
Dhofar’s highest mountain is also home to the Jebel Samhan Nature Reserve, one of the places in the world to find wild Arabian leopards and other larger mammals. Although not open to the public, the plateau before the reserve allows for breath-taking views of the wadis, villages and coast below. Ideal for camping.
WEST OF SALALAH
The natural beauty of the region becomes apparent when travelling in the direction of the border with Yemen. From blowholes and caves to secluded beaches, this day is dedicated to the special highlights located west of Dhofar’s capital, Salalah.
A favourite family picnic spot, the end of Mughsayl beach holds a special surprise during Khareef. Only then do the blowholes erupt, pushing sea water metres into the air and drenching anyone adventurous enough to stand too close.
Wadi Dawkah makes for a great diversion on your way back to Salalah. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the location is open to the public with special viewing areas providing panoramic views of the five square kilometres area densely populated with Boswellia sacra, more commonly known as Frankincense trees.
Easily reached by flight via Muscat, the Musandam Peninsula, an exclave of Oman surrounded by the UAE, enjoys a breath-taking location facing the Strait of Hormuz and Sea of Oman.
Musandam has many scenic bays and fjords that can be discovered by boat or Dhow cruise. Dolphins often frequent the waters and so does plenty of other colourful marine life.
Jebel Hareem is Musandam’s highest point and what better way to explore it than by mountain bike. Local tour operators can arrange pick up or drop off whenever and wherever required.
The easiest route to the plateau is to fly into Muscat, following which you can rent a 4WD vehicle to reach the plateau, which is about 120km from Muscat. The plateau itself offers some stunning attractions worth visiting, including Majlis Al Jinn, one of the largest underground caves in the world.
A trip to one of the largest underground caves in the world, the Majlis Al Jinn, is a special undertaking. Prior permission is required from the Ministry of Tourism and the help of a guide is mandatory.
If travelling with smaller children, you might wish to opt for a visit to the beehive tombs of Al Jaylan instead, before setting up camp on the plateau.
WADI BANI KHALID & ASH SHARQIYAH SANDS
A short drive away, Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the most photographed attractions in Oman.
While an entire day can easily be spent here, simply enjoying the sheer beauty of the wadi and its water pools, a trek from here to Wadi Tiwi across the mountain range is a unique experience and one that must only be undertaken with a guide.
With smaller children it is recommended to spend the day at Wadi Bani Khalid before heading to one of the many desert camps in the Sharqiyah Sands for one or more unforgettable overnights for the family.
The turtle reserve at Ras Al Jinz offers a unique glimpse into the life of turtles, and how for decades they return to the same beach to lay their eggs.
A coastal city with colourful past, Sur once was an important trading hub, thanks to its natural harbour and strategic location. At the last remaining Dhow yard, one can witness how Dhows are built by hand – without plans. A true engineering marvel and interesting for the entire family.
Green turtles are endangered, so the rangers at the Ras Al Jinz nature reserve take special care not to disturb the animals when showing visitors around – this includes mothers laying eggs at night and hatchlings making their way to the ocean at sunrise.
Located between Sur and Muscat, the white pebble and sand beaches of Bimmah, Fins, and Tiwi are an incredible sight.
The roads approaching Wadi Tiwi are twisty and narrow, and the perfect excuse to park the car and explore the area on foot. Villages along the route are surrounded by date palms and still use falaj, the traditional methods of irrigation.
Close to Wadi Tiwi is Wadi Shab, which can only be reached by boat or by wading across during low tide. Natural water pools, a waterfall and hidden cave await those entering the wadi. Bring your swimming gear and enjoy.
Oman’s capital is always worth a visit. After days on the road, it is the perfect place to end the perfect holiday.
Located at the Ministry of Heritage & Culture, the Natural History Museum offers interesting insights into Oman’s natural history, from its geology to its flora and fauna. The skeleton of a washed ashore sperm whale is displayed, providing a unique glimpse at one of the largest mammals in the world.
One of the many city beaches, Al Qurum Beach is great for long walks or simply watching local footballers play against each other – or joining in. A perfect way to end the trip.