I’ve been to Oman on a few occasions, but this was my first trip to Salalah.
Salalah is the capital city of southern Oman’s Dhofar province, known for its banana plantations and beautiful beaches. It was the capital of Oman, until Muscat replaced it in 1970. Oman borders the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. A few of my friends expressed concern about the distance to the Yemen border. Whilst I don’t want to downplay the dangers existing these days, Oman is safe to visit (like Qatar or the UAE). The Omani people are friendly and down to earth.
During the Khareef season (the annual monsoon), which starts from July to September, Salalah is transformed into a lush, green landscape with seasonal waterfalls and attracts a lot of people from the GCC. Our visit was in November and we had beautiful sunshine days, with only slight clouds here and there. We took a half day tour with a guide. He explained that many of the tribal people living in the Wadis have to move to temporary accommodation during this time of heavy rain and flooding. A Wadi is a valley, ravine, or channel that is dry except in the rainy season.
The Al Balid Archaeological Site with the Frankincense Land Museum and ruins of the old maritime city is a great UNESCO site to visit. We stayed in a brand new resort by Anantara, adjacent to this site. The Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara literally only opened two weeks before we visited.
We took a lovely stroll along the beach and on top of the wall, at the archaeological site at sunset. It really is a great location!
This luxury villa resort is a great place for a relaxing vacation, with a magnificent infinity pool and private beach. The resort has hotel rooms as well as villas available. The villas have their own private courtyards and some have a pool. We were treated like royalty and I must commend the staff and management for making our stay so memorable. We’ve stayed at three other Anantara resorts before and the service is a big part of why we choose to stay with them.
At the spa, we had two very competent and lovely ladies from Indonesia give us foot massages. The spa also has the first Hammam in Salalah – a Hammam is a steam room, similar to a Turkish bath.
There are 3 restaurants, including a signature Asian restaurant. We had breakfast at Sakalan with a poolside lunch at Al Mina. Dinner at Mekong Asian restaurant was a treat with authentic cuisine from places along the Mekong river, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. We loved it. Unfortunately due to the fact that this resort was brand new when we stayed there, their liquor license was not finalised yet. I am certain this is sorted out by now. They also offer a private Dining by Design experience, at an intimate table on their beach, or in the majestic garden – perfect for any special occasion.
Our private Wadi half day tour (organised by the hotel) was with tour guide Salim, who took us on a beautiful scenic drive. We encountered the largest herd of free roaming camels I could even imagine, at least 400 camels. On top of a hill we took the trip up to see Nabi Ayoub’s mosque and tomb (Job, from the Bible). We travelled on the zig zag road past Marneef Cave and the Al Mughsayl blow holes. The cave is more an overhanging rock and it is best to see the blow holes during high tide and the Kareef season.
At the zig zag road, I saw my first ever Frankincense tree. Frankincense is collected from wild trees, by making a cut in the bark and letting the sap seep out. Before returning to the resort, we overlooked the natural port of Salalah. This is one of the largest container terminals in the world. I also had a taste of roasted camel and local coffee, as we pit-stopped by a roadside restaurant, on the way back.
Whether you are planning a relaxing holiday at the beach, or a quick break, Salalah should not be overlooked. I feel that Salalah needs more exposure to expats staying in the UAE and Qatar as well. Qatar Airways flies directly to Salalah and I hope this post will inspire your next visit!
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