Things to do in Salalah
Salalah is a vibrant city and is the capital of the Dhofar Governorate which is the second largest governorate in Oman after Muscat. Known for its natural beauty, and varied landscape, Salalah and its neighboring places offer beautiful landscapes, trekking routes, and places of historic value.
Khareef season has the ocean in full fury, the waves are violent, and scary. The waters are a shade of white to grey. However, the main attraction of Salalah in Khareef is the land. It turns green with flora everywhere - so much green that it is coolness to the eyes. I have made a comprehensive list of places to see when you are planning your trip to Salalah so you don't miss out on making the most of your visit. These places I have chosen are closest to get from Salalah Rotana as well. There's a lot more in the Dhofar Governorate that you can see which I will be sharing in another post.
Khawr Rawri Wildlife Sanctuary: Khawr Rawri is the largest of the proclaimed khawrs along the Salalah coast measuring 2.5 km long and up to 400 m wide. Khawr Rawri provides an important habitat for birds, fish and a representative sample of the vegetation of the gravel plains under the influence of the Khareef. Khawr Rawri is better known for the very important archaeological site on its banks, Samharam
Anti Gravity Area Road: When we were here, the guide stopped driving and allowed the force of gravity to get into action. It was quite interesting to see how the car went along on a sloping road without any force in play except that of nature. Our guide also poured water out of a bottle and we saw with our very own eyes, water not flowing down the slope but going upwards. How unique! There is actually a signboard that says this is the point, so it's not hard to find once you are there.
Wadi Darbat Waterfalls: The first place we stopped at while we were exploring the Jewel of Arabia was here. With this place started our love affair to explore every scenic point in Dhofar. With so much beauty in just one spot, we knew we wouldn't have enough of this place. An entire area with a little bit of an off-road drive, multiple waterfalls, and a natural lake forms Darbat. The cyclones that hit Salalah in the last month has resulted in a lot of water being brought to land from the sea making all the in-land waterbodies lush and flowing with water and adding to their immense beauty. A must-stop in Salalah!
Taqah Castle: Taqah castle is located in the main city of taqah in southern Oman. It takes around half an hour to reach here. Just located few meters away from the taqah beach. This castle was built in 19th century and is relatively new as compared to other castle located in northern oman. This has been a private residence of Sheikh Al Ma'shani. In 1970 it was used by Wali of taqah as his office and residence. Taqah Castle is also different from other landmark castles in Oman in the fact that it used to be a private residence for a tribal leader, Sheikh Ali bin Taman Al Ma’shani – the grandfather of the mother of Sultan Qaboos.
Ayn Athum: This waterfall had been dry for two to three years now. During our time there, our guide informed us that it had just started flowing and we were lucky enough to get a glmipse of its beauty. It was raining whilst we headed there but, no amount of rain hindered the visitors' joy from getting to see the waterfall that had sprung back in action.
Ayn Razat: Ain Razat is the most important source of spring water in Dhofar. It used to be one of the main sources of water for Salalah. It's water, as well as several smaller springs, flow into a long pool on the northern side of the carpark at the foot of the Jebel. Water flows along a falaj (watercourse) throughout the year, although flow is highest during the Kharif. This water flows 7 km to Al-Mamurah Palace, the Sultan’s palace in Salalah.
Ayn Sahalnawt: Wadi Sahalnawt is just 15km from Salalah and it gets resplendent in greenery during Khareef every year. The valley has impressive and beautiful natural scenery. While you drive on the meandering roads of this valley you can see greenery all around. The roads are narrow with sharp bends so one must be cautious while driving.
Al Baleed UNESCO Heritage Site: One of the area’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Al-Baleed was the Dhofar region’s primary settlement from the 8th to the 16th century. You can walk or drive through the archaeological park and discover the ancient city’s mosque, trenches and defensive walls. Very close to it is the Frankincense Museum which chronicles human settlement in the area since 2000 B.C.E., with a special emphasis on maritime trade and traditions.
Ayn Jarziz: Nobody recommended this place to us in particular. We just had a paper map in hand and decided to stop at few spots as indicated on the map. We definitely did not regret stopping here. This was the best water spring experience we had in Salalah. This spring was my favorite one - no waterfall or anything - just the spring itself stretches over a large area, and you can find your own private point to sit and have a picnic along the spring.
Wadi Dawkah Frankincense Nature Resort: Wadi Dawkah is a natural park famous for Frankincense trees, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The wadi in Dhofar region of Oman is a stony, semi desert valley, where the density of frankincense trees spreads across 5 square kilometers.
Ittin Cave: Just outside Salalah, Ittin has many attractions. Apart from the Ittin Cave, which is located above a mountain, and Ayn Jarziz, the newly built Ittin walkway is the area’s newest attraction.
Al Mughsayl Natural Blowholes: Right next to Al Marnif Cave are three impressive blowholes (know as Al-Mughsayl Blowholes due to proximity to Al-Mughsail/ Al Mughsayl Beach) otherwise also called Mughsayl Natural Fountains. These three entertaining blowholes have meshes over them. When the sea is slightly rough, sea water explodes into the air through these holes in the rock, which are just above the sea. The water jet from the blowholes vary according to the season, but can get as high as 28m in the sky in Khareef season. Every couple of minutes, the ground shakes and small holes in the rock erupt with deafening noise and dramatic jets of seawater.
Al Marnif Cave: Al Marnif Cave lies in Shatti Al Mughsayl area about 40 kilometres from Salalah in Governorate of Dhofar. It overlooks the Arabian Sea and Al Mughsayl fountains. The cave has been equipped with visitor-friendly facilities.
Aftalqut: Not too far from Al Mughsayl, through an offroad drive, you will reach this scenic point. The good thing about Salalah is that beauty is everywhere during Khareef, and you can see people coming along with their bbq sets/ picnic baskets, and setting their mat, or pitching their tent everywhere. Aftalqut is a great view point
Souq Al Haffa: Located approximately 22 kilometers from Salalah Rotana Resort, on the beachfront near the Sultan’s Palace is Souq Al Haffa, filled with a variety of Frankincense and local perfumes, Bukhoor, and even some of the Frankincense of the highest quality known as the Hawjari. The best place to shop Omani Frankincense is Salalah and specifically the Souq itself.
The tour at Salalah was a mix of our own exploring and that which was arranged by Salalah Rotana during our stay in Salalah. It is a must-see place especially for those of you who live in Doha and are looking for a quick getaway.