Muscat to Salalah

Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 08:55 PM
  #1  
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Muscat to Salalah

Has anyone done this drive from Muscat to Salalah, and do they recomend it. Will be in Oman in December and as it is a really long drive am wondering if it is not better to fly.
Many thanks for any info....
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 11:27 PM
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I lived in Salalah, and made the drive to Muscat a few times. It isn't difficult--the road is in excellent shape with little traffic--but it's a tedious long day's drive across seemingly infinite stretches of rocky desert. You need to watch out for wild camels on the road. The scenery improves dramatically when you pass through the mountains (jebels) between Salalah and the desert. This stretch of road is worth seeing. I would probably fly if I had to make the trip now, but try to make a trip into the Empty Quarter Desert from Salalah. Even better to camp there overnight. Stars are fantastic. Hope this helps.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 07:50 PM
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Thanks so much for the info, will definitely do the Empty quarter. I think we might drive as am not too sure about hiring a car in Salalah or should we take a tour into the empty quarter. Is there anything else in the area worth visiting? Sorry about all the questions but not many people have been there so it is great to find someone who knows the area so well.
Peggylou
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 07:32 AM
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I'm going to piggyback since I will be in Muscat next month (end of November).
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Old Oct 24th, 2006, 11:46 PM
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Muscat-Salalah by road will take you 11 or 12 hours. Depends how fast you drive--you can really fly on straight roads with little traffic. Flying takes one hour, but I remember very bumpy flights (as well as cancelled ones) due to strong hot winds. There is more to do in the Muscat area, but Salalah will give you the sense of isolation, even better arrived at if you travel overland. The present Sultan waged a war with separatists in this mountainous Dhofar region before unifying the sultanate--it was in the 60s/70s, if i remember correctly. You will encounter completely veiled women in Dhofar whereas in the capital many woman wear only head scarves. So best dress conservatively, long sleeves and cover the legs. The Prophet Job's tomb is a pilgrimage site within driving distance of Salalah--whether it is Job's or not I couldn't say. From my travels in the Islamic world I have encountered a few burial spots for Job! (Many places throughout Central Asia where Alexander the Great is buried too!) Shisr, about 200 kms from Salalah, on the outermost edges of the Empty Quarter, is an interesting wind swept town where an old headman with his khanjar or dagger stuck in his belt may come out to speak with you. I met archeologists at Shisr area who worked at the ruins of Ubar, the frankincense trading center of the biblical world, that was discovered by satellite imagery. (British explorer Ralph?? Fiennes wrote a book about his discovery of Ubar.) There isn't much to see at Ubar, the desert has reclaimed it, but I walked the desert here looking for ancient scraping tools, as well as geodes, which have lovely crystal formations inside. One sits on my desk at home. They lie on the desert, as round as balls. The Shisr area is where we often camped. I cannot give you accurate directions because we often had an Omani with us. Please make sure you take someone with you from Salalah if you do want to stay out there. (I don't know if you are campers, but that would be the only way you can stay out there. You might want to ask a Muscat-based travel agency about someone in Salalah who organizes camp trips.) Where there are no tracks, it is very easy to get lost. We always traveled in convoy and brought lots of water, life skills that prepared us for living in Tanzania and making long safari. Have you picked up Wilfred Thesiger's book on crossing the Empty Quarter desert by camel? A classic travel story, which could never be written now what with technology such as GPS.
The beaches around Salalah are superb. We spent many weekends swimming, snorkeling and diving on beaches west of Salalah which we had to ourselves. The roads give out to the east and west of Salalah quickly, and to get to some of these isolated beaches, you need to go off road. Again, I think an agency should be able to help you with this information. The little village of Taqah is worth visiting on one of your drives to a beach. The road west of Salalah terminates near the Yemeni border. Unfortunately, you still cannot cross there, although some adventurous friends went across by camel with locals. In order to get to Yemen I had to fly back to Muscat and catch Yemeni Airways to Sana'a. Much of Dhofar's history is linked to that of southern Yemen, but it isn't something nationalistic Omanis care to discuss.
To this day if I catch a whiff of frankinsense (I am in Greece at the moment and the churches burn a low grade of it) I am immediately transported to Salalah. The women perfume their clothes with frankincense by standing over a burnng brazier. (The braziers are brightly painted terracotta, often in the form of dhows.) My Omani women friends made me do this before I left their houses after a visit. Dhofar receives a monsoon June through Sept and becomes very green. This is when Middle Eastern tourists visit (makes sense, they like to escape the desert),but I see that you arrive in December.
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Old Oct 25th, 2006, 09:57 AM
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I cannot thank you enough for all this wonderful information. Will make sure we do not venture into the desert without a guide!! My companion is working in Sohar for a while so visited him in July but only got as far as Muscat so am really looking forward to seeing more of the country. I found it absolutely fascinating. Will see if I cannot find the books you mentioned. Must say I brought back some frankinsense but every time I burn some my son says he thinks he is in church!!We have a friend joining us from Spain who is also very keen to see the country so I think we will definitely drive as it will be nice to have a car to move around. Once again thank you so much.
Peggylou
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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Arbizulu: I can understand why you're attracted to Oman. I think it is the most interesting of the Gulf nations. Less glitter and chilled air. I searched today for enlightening folkore I was told by Omani women friends; I have it written somewhere. It explains why the thobes that women wear trail behind them--something about erasing their footprints from the sand. Will you let me know how your trip goes? You have me thinking again about a camel trek through the Empty Quarter. I'll watch for the post but you can also find me at [email protected]
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Old Oct 28th, 2006, 09:51 PM
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Once again Mama Thembo thank you so much for the info...have been reading up on the area and it looks fascinating so will definitely let you know how it goes. Just one more question to bother you with, what is the weather like in Salalah in December? Some of my friends in Sohar are giving me conflicting advice, some say it gets very cold in Oman in December and others say it is mild...As I will be going there straight from Kenya I don't really want to cart winter clothes around with me. Thanks once again.
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Old Oct 29th, 2006, 09:17 PM
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I don't remember Salalah as ever "cold", tropical more like it. Muggy for sure during the monsoon June to September. My clothes used to grow mold in the closet. And very windy sometimes too. But elsewhere and in Muscat, it can cool down in the evenings, which is typical desert weather. Bring a good jacket and layers in case you do feel the chill. If you are in Kenya in December, you will have some warm clothes along anyway, right?
L
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Old Oct 30th, 2006, 07:31 PM
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Thanks for the info...well to be honest I wasn't thinking of taking warm clothes to Kenya in December but perhaps you can advise me. We are going to Nairobi, Samburu, Mara and Tsavo and Mombasa. Sorry to be a nuisance but really appreciate your help
Peggylou
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Old Oct 31st, 2006, 10:58 PM
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I guess i need to define cold, which for me tends to be when the temp dips to 70 degrees! Due to Nairobi's elevation of 5900 feet, I seem to need a jacket in the evenings. July and August are the dampest there for me. But I remember sitting around a friend's fireplace at Xmas during some heavy rain. So by warm clothes I mean a lined jacket. And that should do you for Oman as well, for that camel safari you might be encouraged to make. You are right about the rest of your Kenyan destinations--you won't be cold at all. I'd like to hear your impressions of Tsavo too. Happy and safe travels.
Leslie
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Old Nov 1st, 2006, 07:58 PM
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Thanks so much once again for your help and will definitely let you know how the trip went, also my impression of Tsavo.
Peggylou
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Old Feb 19th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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Very interesting info all. We will only have one long day in Salalah. Any suggestions on best things to do?

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