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In Salalah, Oman the annual khareef season turns the sandy, mountainous landscape of this enchanting Middle Eastern city to a deeply beautiful lush green. This khareef, or monsoon, season is probably the best time to travel to Salalah, Oman.
Salalah, Oman Tour in Khareef Season
I decided to travel to Salalah near the end of its khareef season while I was working and traveling full time, twice. The first time was so amazing, I had to return for more. Now I’ve written this post about my first time in this amazing city so you’ll know the best time to take a Salalah, Oman tour and some of the places to see in this gorgeous, exotic mountainous location on the Arabian Sea.
Where is Salalah, Oman?
Salalah, Oman is situated about 621 miles, or 1,000 kilometers, south of the country’s capital of Muscat, just east of Saudi Arabia on the Arabian Sea.
Best Time to Visit Salalah, Oman
As you probably know, much of the Middle East is desert, as is Salalah. During the annual rainy season, Salalah and all of the Dhofar region where it is located come to life in vibrant shades of green as the starkly beautiful desert lights up with streams, ponds and waterfalls.
I have only traveled to Salalah around khareef season, so I can’t compare it with any other time of year. However, I’ve visited twice just after this season and the weather was very warm while not being too hot, and it was not overrun with tourists at all. So both times I visited Salalah during the khareef season, it was ideal.
What to See in Salalah, Oman
Salalah and the surrounding Dhofar region are beautifully exotic and filled with sights you will not see elsewhere in the world.
Frankincense trees – Frankincense trees, not found in many parts of the world, are abundant in Salalah. My tour guide friend Ali drove me into a field full of these short trees with thin branches. With a knife he sliced a piece of bark off of one, and we watched the trunk’s thick white resin seep out.
Camels, camels, camels – Camels are all over the place in and around Salalah. This is normal for the Gulf region. One day we were driving around in the (lush green) desert, when literally approximately a thousand camels came walking down the road toward us, being herded by just a few men.
I thought it was the most amazing sight I had ever seen. Ali, who’s lived in Salalah all of his life, was annoyed because we had to pull over the car and wait for them to pass. Hard to imagine, but I guess a lot of people who’ve grown up surrounded by millions of camels might be annoyed by this.
Roadside Camel Meat and Coconut Stands – There are so many camels in the Gulf that people don’t just ride them; they eat them. Ali took me to a roadside stand where strips of camel meat hang to dry before being wrapped in foil and cooked over coals. I ate some and it was tangy and quite delicious.
We made our way by car to another roadside stand where we bought coconuts, drank the fresh milk inside and peeled and ate the soft, wet and sweet coconut meat.
The Arabian Sea – The Arabian Sea has very warm turquoise waters, is surrounded by dramatic dark mountains and is filled with dolphins and turtles. If you’re a beach person, you can choose a hotel on the sea so you can enjoy its magnificence every day of your stay in Salalah.
Mughsayl Beach and Blowhole – About 40 minutes outside Salalah you’ll find Mughsayl, a white sand beach on turquoise water nestled in the mountains. There is a cave here called Marneef Cave as well as blow holes, which I’ve never seen before. Some of the shafts in the cave naturally force water from the Arabian Sea upwards, where it gushes to the surface through one of these blowholes.
Job’s Grave – Job, the man in the Bible famous for severely suffering yet holding onto an unwavering belief in and trust of God, is buried just outside Salalah. He is considered a prophet in Islam, so his grave is an important place for the local people as well as tourists. One very fascinating fact that you probably do not know is that Job was a giant. His grave is several feet long.
Souqs – There are several souqs in Salalah, like al Husn Souq and Al Hafa Souq, where you can stroll around, people watch and shop for frankincense, scarves and other souvenirs.
Anti-gravity spot – Everything in and around Salalah is completely amazing and hard to top, but the anti-gravity spot off the tourist trail was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had. This is an area of roadway in Salalah where the gravity field is reversed. Here, on the side of a desolate mountain road, moving downhill is difficult and moving uphill is easy.
Ali put the car in neutral on a hill, and we began rolling. But not downhill. The car was instead pulled slowly uphill. I took a video of the experience from inside the car. Through the windows you can see some of the unbelievable lush jungle-type scenery that the khareef season brings.
This mysterious experience in this beautiful, hidden location that most people have never heard of exemplifies all of Salalah, Oman for me – unique, breathtaking, unknown and completely intriguing.
What to Buy in Salalah, Oman
Frankincense! Salalah is all about the frankincense. When you travel to Salalah, its strong spicy scent will be everywhere, so you will probably want to bring some home with you, along with a colorful frankincense burner. You can find frankincense and frankincense burners in al Husn Souq, or al Hafa Souq and other locations in Salalah.
You not only can burn frankincense for its scent, you can steep it in tea and drink it for its anti-inflammatory health benefits.
Salalah, Oman Flights
You can buy tickets to Salalah, Oman from anywhere in the world. It’s a one-hour flight from the capital city of Muscat, Oman.
Salalah, Oman Hotels
Salalah is not an expensive destination, and there are many reasonably-priced accommodations. I enjoyed a really comfortable room at the Haffa House Hotel, a local place with beautiful Arabian architecture, and I recommend it. Ali also found me a holiday apartment where I stayed for a few days.
Salalah, Oman Tours
I’ve never been anywhere where there was less English spoken than in Salalah, so I do highly recommend that you take a professional tour of Salalah, as well as the surrounding region if you have time.
Have you traveled to Salalah, Oman? Let me know about your experience in the comments!