Friday, October 24, 2008

me & my wife were planning to do something different or adventurous during Eid holidays in October 2008. Away from our family and homeland, we had nothing special to do in Dubai. We decided to visit Salalah. Salalah is one of Oman’s southern most cities. It is situated on a fertile plain, amongst the lush coconut graves and banana plantations, set against the dramatic mountain back drop of Jabal Dofar. Salalah is an ideal year round tourist destination. We had decided to travel by road, I had Honda CRV. The distance that I was supposed to drive, from Dubai to Salalah, was around 1370 km.

Day 1
We left for Salalah on 1st October at 4am and took Hatta Road. We reached the Hatta Border by 5am. Afterwards we followed the 3 very usual steps.
1st to stop on UAE Check Post to get the Exist stamp on the passports
2nd to stop on a custom check post to have a custom check and
3rd and the last is to stop on Oman’s check post to get visa on the passports.
Then we finally started our journey towards Salalah Oman.
At 8:30am we continued towards Muscat there we saw boards pointing directions to Salalah, we made sure that we were going in the right direction.
We reached Muscat at 8:45am and took diversion to Nizwa. Nizwa, is located in the heart of Oman about 165 km from Muscat the capital city. Then after1:30 hrs drive we entered Adam , where we could see nothing but the desert.

For the safer side I would recommend all the car-travelers to keep filling their vehicles at every filling station on way from Nizwa to Salalah, as you come across a filling station after every 300km (maximum distance), and that is quite a distance even with a full tank.

I was driving a car at a speed of 180 and covered the distance from Adam to Thumrayat in 6 hours and the total distance is about 800 Km, but believe me the road is very boring…nothing but the irresistible dessert. 25 Km before salalah the greenery by the side of the road catches your eye and you can see the small muddy hills of Salalah. The temperature started cooling down to 30C. As soon we entered the green Mountains of Salalah, the tiredness of the boring dessert wore off... we felt as fresh as if we had just started the journey.

We checked in Haffa House Hotel around at 3pm. We took a refreshing bath and went out for a walk and came across Nabi Imran’s (May Allah be pleased with him) mausoleum which was just at a walking distance from our hotel.After visiting Nabi Imran’s(May Allah be pleased with him) mausoleum we went for a drive inside the city. Our day concluded after a whole day long-drive. We drove through the maximum of the Salalah city. Back at hotel, while enjoying the dinner, we chatted about the whole day's trip and went to sleep. We had to refresh ourselves for our next day adventure.

Day 2.
We woke up at 7 in the morning after a hearty breakfast; we head to discover Salalah City. We explored the both old and new Salalah city and went to the shops and restaurant and famous markets. Then we headed off to the spectacular beach. We enjoyed the most peaceful & soothing moment while looking at the most amazing sight of the shore lush with the coconut trees there were also shops of bananas and coconuts. I bought some bananas and my wife drank coconut water.
Around noon we reached the Nabi Ayub's (May Allah be pleased with him), located in the mountains about 4o Km from Salalah. The Tomb marks where the Prophet rests in Peace, and there is also the spring where Prophet AYUB (May Allah be pleased with him) slammed his foot to the ground to bring about water. This is just down the road from the burial. There is also a mosque, where Nabi Ayub(May Allah be pleased with him) is believed to say his prayers. Also there is Nabi Ayub’s (May Allah be pleased with him) foot mark.

After saying the Fatiah at the tomb we headed onwards to Wadi Darbat.

As we reached Wadi Dardat around 2pm.Wadi Darbat is known by the majestic views of water falls, lakes, mountains, caves and wild life and lush green vegetations of the natural park. Each year from the middle of July to the end of August, the Khareef Festival is celebrated here. This is the time of the year when the visitors can experience the cooler, cloudy, summer climate with refreshing rains, commonly known as the Khareef season, (the summer monsoon). During the season, the water fall as high as 100m is one of the most spectacular natural view.
But as it was October not July, we didn’t experience splendid view but the 1 hrs that we spent there were the most relaxing and peaceful.
At 3 pm we left for Mughsayl. It is 40 Km from Shalala. Mughsayl boasts over 4Km sandy beach outlined by sculptured cliffs with the blow holes formed in the limestone rocks where water reaches a height of 30 meters. By the time we arrived at the place, our stomachs were rumbling and we stopped at a local restaurant for lunch. We ate chicken curry with white rice, the taste was ok. But the view of the lavishly green area and the feel of the cool breeze from the beach were worth having the lunch in that restaurant.Moreover, there is a geyser that spouts according to surging of the wave in the west side of the coast, and at a certain point in the water a rainbow appears. The whole view is spectacular and breathtaking.

We enjoyed the rest of the evening there. Some people also went down in the water. Around 6 pm we headed back to Salalah City. It was getting dark. On our way back, we stopped on a small restaurant on the side of the road. We enjoyed a hot cup of tea. We ordered my wife’s favorite and Oman’s famous Paratha and Chicken Tikka. We stayed there for quite some time and chatted about all what we enjoyed and discovered in Salalah.
Then we again continued towards our Hotel in Salalah. On our way, we came across an amusement park. Inside it was a hive of fun activities. There was a play land for children and different fun competitions were organized for children inside a stadium. The Omani Folk Dances were being performed at the stage of the open theatre. We enjoyed the performances and it was 10pm when we finally reached the hotel.

Our last day to explore Salalah and visit as many places as we could manage. We woke really early in the morning, did our breakfast and started our venture around 7am.
We decided to head towards Mirbat, which about 50 km away from Salalah. Mirbat was famous in the 9th century for the breeding and exporting of horses and for its trade in Frankincense. It lies on a small peninsula in a wide bay and has a nice port. On the way to Mirbat we took the way to Khor Rori (30km from Salalah). it is perhaps the most dramatic and potentially evocative site. The excavations here had revealed a walled rectangular shaped town five stones inscription were written in Arabic southern alphabets describing the establishment of the town, from which it is evident that the town was built to ascertain the dominations of Frankincense trade. After exploring Khor rori, on the way to Mirbat we decided to look for a very famous and unique place known as Anti Gravity Spot (about 8 km before Mirbat), there is no sign board mentioning this spot only one board pointing Tawa Atir .
From there we took the road to the left. It was s quite a barren area but we continues to follow the road. Then we saw few more cars over there. Then I just turned off/Neutral my car and released the brakes. Then it started to happen… I experienced the most amazing thing… my car gradually started to move uphill on its own. I turned back to the road a few more times to experience my car defying gravity! I made videos to share with my friends the whole experience.

Then we went back to the main road to Mirbat. Muhammad Bin Ali’s Tomb is also located in it and noted for the white Domes. There is a large cemetery around the Tomb which has unusually shaped and inscribed headstones.

On way back to Mirbat we saw board named Sadh, we turned to the road to Sadh.
It had fine beaches and dramatic coastlines were excellent for camping and boating. The land was sheltred for the monsoon with steep cliffs dropping to sandy bays.
We left for Salalah at 3pm but in way we went up on the mountains. We stayed there till 5pm and took a lot of photographs to capture the fabulous beauty of the place.
The last place that we planned to visit was Sahnout Dam. Wadi Shanout is located in Al-Saada city about 15 Km from Salalah. The plateau which over looks the springs is an excellent view.
We arrived at the hotel around 9 pm and packed our entire luggage before going to bed. The next morning we checked out and before leaving took a brief look around to say good-bye to Salalah. We knew that we will be back – soon.
My plan is to go again to salalah but in moonson season during khareef festival because in moonson salalah looks totally different rain, mist-soaked mountains,green-cloaked valleys, spring and water falls.