Salalah is home to a fairly desolate landscape, charred with sunbaked rocks and dotted occasionally with surprisingly lush trees, adapted to their arid desert-like climate. Several miles separate each landmark along hot, dry roads. Out of nowhere, palm trees and villages break the flat plains. Salalah is known for its 3-in-1 features: mountains, sea, and desert all within a one hour drive.
We saw some of those sights this day. Starting at the beach adjacent to Sultan Qaboos’s Palace, I kicked off my shoes and stood in the surf, watched closely by one of the guards, should I make a run for it through the not so protective ‘fence.’ The Palace is not decorative or eye catching as you would expect from a palace.
I headed back, barefoot and refreshed, to browse the stalls of the nearby frankincense souq, where instead of purchasing anything, I enjoyed a delicious local tea with a very friendly Omani man. He wants to be Prime Minister one day. Best wishes to him!
From there we went to Ayn Razat, a small oasis at the foot of the Qara Mountains. This lush area becomes far more green and alive when the season permits, creating an inviting atmosphere for many local Omani families to get outside in weather they can manage.
Fun Fact: Arabic words are written right to left, but numbers are written left to right!
I discovered that fact from trying to read many street signs on my multiple visits to the UAE to see the parents.
A small Omani community along the road from Ayn Razat. The houses are so big in order to accommodate multiple generations. Plus, our guide had nine children, so space is essential!
“…dotted occasionally with surprisingly lush trees…”
“Several miles separate each landmark along hot, dry roads.”
Taqah Castle Watchtower, providing an overlooking view of the fishing village of Taqah.
View from the watchtower. Taqah Castle is in the far left side of the frame.
Omani flag inside the castle’s courtyard. This castle once housed the current sultan’s great grandfather, Sheikh Ali bin Taman Al Ma’shani.
Our day wouldn’t be complete without a few camel sightings. These guys were hanging out near the Sumhuram Archeological Park. This site used to house a city that was one of the two largest ports in southern Arabia. Now receiving renovations and infrastructure strengthening, it’s a great example of what once was.