Unveiling Salalah’s secrets one khareef journey at a time

Oman's mist-shrouded landscapes and green-tinged mountains keep this writer returning for more

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Growing up in Oman, visiting Salalah during khareef season was an annual tradition I cherished. The allure of the mist-kissed landscapes, lush greenery and ethereal atmosphere drew me in like a magnet, making each visit an unforgettable experience. My most recent trip this season proves that Salalah’s khareef magic never fades.

Having traversed the Muscat-Salalah route by road as well as by air in previous journeys to Oman's southern city, I chose the latter on my latest trip to make the most of a short four-day break.

With many hotels fully booked due to high season, I returned to one of my favourite destinations, checking in at the Salalah Rotana Resort just outside of town.

Each morning, I was greeted with a very welcome drizzle-soaked view from the balcony, and the resort's private beach is perfect for summer strolls. At night, the area holds a special charm as the sound of vehicles move over rain-soaked roads, and the surrounding city sparkles with droplets under the dark sky.

Exploring the uncharted: Shaat sinkhole and walking path

During this visit, instead of treading well-worn paths, I chose to seek out some lesser-known gems.

My first adventure led me to the Shaat sinkhole and walking path, a secluded spot that often goes unnoticed as most visitors instead opt to visit the Shaat viewpoint.

Situated about 83km from Salalah city, this hidden gem is well worth exploring. The drive uphill towards Shaat from Mughsail Beach is a thrilling experience, with steep bends and unexpected twists demanding cautious driving and concentration, not least because of the mist-covered roads which can dampen visibility.

Upon reaching the beautiful spot and stepping out of the car, the clouds descended, obscuring the path ahead. It took at least 10 minutes before I was able to find the walking path – a quiet pathway cocooned in greenery that leads to the sinkhole viewpoint. Despite not being able to see a thing due to thick cloud cover, I didn't regret my hillside walk.

Whispering secrets of the past: Prophet Ayoub's tomb

Another visit takes me 30km to the north-west of Salalah city to the Prophet Ayoub’s tomb. This location can be enjoyed at any time during khareef season, because the weather is always clement.

As I arrived, the road to the tomb was shrouded in mist with clouds and a light drizzle accompanying my visit. The tomb itself is dedicated to one of Allah's prominent messengers and is surrounded by a large garden area, where I enjoyed a leisurely stroll in the refreshing landscape.

Outside the site, there are stalls selling an array of seasonal snacks – including sliced fruits like mangoes, guavas and pineapples, plus karak tea and candy floss. A helpful tip for first time visitors heading here: If your GPS signal or phone battery fails on approach, take the road on the left marked Ain Garziz.

Nature's masterpiece: Eftalquot

My quest to explore new locations led me to Eftalquot, 40km from Salalah city, and a place that truly lives up to its reputation as one of Oman's wonders of nature. Before visiting, I’d seen various Instagram reels of the location so my appetite was whet and, on my sixth trip to the region, I was determined to find it.

After following a beautiful green trail, I got out of the car and took in the view. Turquoise waters are embraced by verdant hills, and the spot undoubtedly has some of the region's most picturesque vantage points. It is easily one of the most scenic spots in Salalah and, thankfully, it isn’t impacted by low visibility. The surrounding hills are covered in what appears to be a green carpet, and the spot overlooks the beach below. As one of the best picnic spots in the area, naturally, I settled down to enjoy a nature-surrounded bite.

Beneath the earth: Taiq Cave and Sinkhole

On another day, I venture to Taiq Cave and Sinkhole. Located around 70km from Salalah city, this site is another natural treasure, and the drive to get there is fun, as it involves passing herds of cows, camels and donkeys.

Stretching some 200m, the sinkhole is very deep and the accompanying mist makes it difficult to see to the bottom. You need to be careful if visiting with young children as there's no real boundary around the edge.

Taiq Cave, located near the top of the hole is accessible via six different entrances and, while I don't venture inside, the carvings on it hint at the mysteries buried within. The area is also famous for its myriad birdlife.

As I reflect on my latest journey to one of my favourite places in Oman, I’m reminded that Salalah's khareef is more than just a season – it's an experience that resonates with those who seek its hidden treasures.

From misty trails to panoramic peaks, every discovery adds another layer to the narrative of this enchanting destination, and I’m confident my sixth visit will certainly not be my last.

Updated: August 14, 2023, 8:03 AM