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Emerald in the Desert

Hidden in the southern tip of Oman, lies a paradise called Salalah, a popular holiday destination for the Arabs.

This place is unlike the rest of the Gulf, golden sands give way to lush greenery, high cliffs, coconut trees and banana plantations. The best time to visit Salalah is during monsoon, between June and August. Salalah is a popular holiday destination for the Arabs.

Our journey began with a visit to the anti-gra-vity spot in Tawi Atair. In a particular stretch of road, vehicles with engines switched off and gear in neutral move either forward or backward depending on the direction of the vehicle. The experience was unique, and the vehicle accelerated from 10kmph to 50kmph within a few seconds! It is possible to drive on this stretch without being aware of the anti-gravity effect.

Next stop was the Tawi Atair sinkhole. This huge hole is 211m deep and 140m-60m wide in the broadest and narrowest sections. The walls are decorated with stalactites and stalagmites. There is a lake at the bottom housing a species of fish that is unique to this lake and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.


A hard, perilous journey...

We then drove down to Wadi Darbat. The journey is hard and perilous, as the mountains are mostly covered with clouds and it is perennially drizzling. Visibility can get extremely poor, sometimes barely one metre.  Wadi means valley in Arabic. Wadi Darbat is a paradise in the monsoons and a tourist hotspot. Lush greenery in a variety of shades, cooing of birds surrounds you. The lake is crystal clear with a variety of fish and snails.

On the way to our next destination, we had to stop to let a domestic herd of camels to cross the road. Camel crossings are common in Oman.  Khor Rori (Sumhuram) Archaeological Park and Al Baleed Archaeological Park are two of the main attractions. The ancient ruin of the port city of Khor Rori is located about 40km from Salalah and is dated back to the 2nd century BCE, in the pre-Islamic era. Al Baleed is located 12km from the city. The people of this Khor Rori and Al Baleed were traders of Frankincense, which is grown in the Dofhar region. Al Baleed has the ruins of a palace and several mosques. The Museum of Frankincense Land is located in the Al Baleed archaeological site, and also displays different artefacts, the way of life and timeline of the region.

Natural blowholes...

The next day, we visited Ayn Homran, a spot for bird watching. A small stream flows through the naturally formed caves. We then headed towards Mughsayl bay, about 44km from the city. The natural limestone caves, deep cliffs and rough seas take your breath away. The unique feature about this place is the natural blowholes that spurt water fountains when waves hit the coastline.

Salalah is a perfect getaway for travellers who like to visit the unexplored. Beautiful untouched beaches, high cliffs, thick forests, white sands contrast each other as you drive down the coastline. This place is sure to refresh any tired soul hailing from the concrete urban jungles or otherwise!

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