I think it’s important to mention that the Dhofar region has two completely different faces – the winter one with calm seas, clear skies, and temperatures similar to most places in the Middle East. The summer is overcast, drizzly, cool, and the landscapes are green. The highlights in this blog may have a different aspect/attraction in the winter; we found many books and webpages extolling panoramic views from green-clad mountains, but in June and July they are shrouded in cloud – so not very much to see from high plateaus, but lots of other seasonal attractions to discover.
Route Two : Greenery abounds!
This route is a round trip of 134kms from central Salalah. It can be done by a sedan, 4×4 not required, unless you sneak back to Khor Ruori for another look (which we did). You could do this in 4 hours or so, but could easily spin it out to a day if you were to do some walking and exploring. Take care in June/July especially, as paths are muddy and slippery.
We experienced fog when we drove higher than Wadi Dirbat and this continued til we were at a higher altitude at Taiq Cave. Take care and remember to use your lights. Camels and cows wander onto the road without looking!
The downloadable track starts in the centre of Salalah, where you take the main road out towards Taqah and Mirbat. Shortly after Taqah there is a turn to the left signposted “Wadi Dirbat” (WD TURN1 – N17 03.534 E54 25.991), take this turn and head up into the hills. Turn left again at (WD TURN2 – N17 04.211 E54 26.799) It lies at quite a low level but even then we couldnt see the travertine curtain or anything high up. But what we did find was a landscape so like our homeland, cattle grazing in the field while soft summer rain fell turning the whole place green.
We were amazed to see Friesian cattle here, and I’m reliably informed that there are some brown cows look very like the German Holsteins there too.
Amazing view – and at 18 degrees north of the equator!
If the people in the photo had been wearing western clothes we could have had you believing that this was the river Dee near Aberdeen. I love people watching and it was a delight to see them having so much fun with the boats.
But whatever you do, don’t SWIM in the water!
This part of Dhofar had lots of rain by July 12th, and it was still raining when we visited there, but that didn’t stop lots of stalls setting up and selling kebabs, dates, figs, shocking pink candy floss – how some parents will regret buying that for their kids – and kites and umbrellas.
We retraced our steps and turned left at again to go up into the mountains stopping first at a well known local attraction – Tawi Attair (Well of Birds) (TAWI ATTAIR – N17 06.840 E54 33.471). Not too may birds, and very wet and slippery so we decided against taking the muddy path down to the bottom. One of the deepest sinkholes in the world, we couldn’t see all the way down because of mist, but once the rains recede in August, this should be very worthy of a visit.
Incidentally, by the time we reached Tawi Attair, we were driving inside a cloud again. Had to take care as there were local residents with black coats who had no roadsense and were just wandering all over the place!
Our final stop of the day was at Taiq cave (TAIQ CAVE – N17 09.288 E54 37.235), which is more of a massive open sinkhole than a cave. On the walk from the carpark down to the cliff edge, there are many interesting plants, including frankincense of course.
Some alpine looking plants,
as well as one which looks like a cactus.
I’ve nicked this photo from my good friend Sheena – there was no way I was going near the edge without Neil holding my hand, it’s a long way down!
From there we retraced our steps back to Salalah.
Download my track from here
I also found a great website to give average weather statistics – you can check it out here – weatherspark
Other Blogs in this series on Salalah –