Updated: Jul 20, 2018
An oasis for traveller
“Lush greenery in a desert”
Weather and Seasons
Located in the Middle East, Oman has a mostly hot climate. The months from December to April are good for travelling to places like Musandam at the Oman-UAE border. Towards the south, Salalah receives heavy rain during June to September. This is known as the Khareef season and is the best time to visit the place as the mountains are covered in lush green trees.
Travel and Stay
If you live in UAE, this is the place for a weekend road trip. Otherwise you can fly in to Muscat. I would suggest booking a nice resort as there would not be much to do but relax. We stayed at the Rotana resort in Salalah.
Must see places
Musandam cruise, Wadi darbat, zero gravity point.
The travel story
Travelling is more about the journey than the destination. Travelling in Middle East still takes you centuries back when white robed men journeyed through the desert for days and months looking for an oasis to rest their wearied souls. The romance of the desert, the companionship of desert camels, the deception of light forming a mirage, the endless time, the promise of a beautiful garden, the dead stare of an eagle. The Middle East is a land out of an adventure novel.
The Sultanate of Oman was once a powerful kingdom in the Middle East with strategic positions around the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Today it still is a rising economy in the Middle East and has one of the longest reigning monarchy. It shares land border with UAE and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
For a quick day trip we booked online a day cruise in Musandam, Oman. It was just a 2 hour drive from Dubai and right at the UAE-Oman border. We had applied Visas online and the border control checked our passports and visas and let us into Musandam area. Here on we took a cruise boat and sailed off to sea. A good 5-6 hours were spent lazily cruising down with an occasional stop for some banana boat rides and anchoring down near a mountain to have some lunch. By evening we made it back to shore.
What is an absolute treat to the eyes is the beautiful blue sea and the rough ragged mountain jutting out in the backdrop. If you can drown out the noise of the boat and people and the non stop music blaring at some speaker, you can almost feel meditative as you stare ahead and the boat floats on.
A group of us friends decided to drive down in our SUV from Dubai, UAE to Salalah, Oman covering around 1300 kilometres in a target time of 12-14 hours. To start preparing for a road trip one must create a checklist of things to carry and a checklist of tasks to complete to ensure a trouble-free journey.
Checklist must include, filling up the car tank to full, checking the tyre pressure, ensuring the breaks are good, ensuring all seatbelts are in working state, the navigation system works and the car stereo is working. Carry enough waste bags in the car in case of emergencies like sickness, tissue papers, hand sanitiser, ample amount of water and food for the journey. A good night’s sleep prior to the journey is a must.
To start off we prepared sandwiches and parathas previous night and packed them. We additionally carried light bites. We loaded everything into the car at 5 am and carried two flasks of tea with us. By 6 am we were on the road, playing the perfect road trip music and looking ahead to 3 days of no work.
The border of Oman is a couple hours drive from Dubai. Visa to Oman can be applied online or at the border on arrival. We had already applied and received our Visas online. However, there are plenty tourists travelling to and from Oman due to which it takes at least 2 hours to stamp the passports and clear border control. Once you enter Oman, it is a straight long drive to Salalah following the sat nav.
Oman is mostly a gravel sand land barren except few cities. We travelled nearly a 1000 kilometres on a single road with barren land on either side and a petrol pump every 100 kilometres. [Tip: Always fill up the tank every chance you get in a desert. You don’t want to be stranded in the road with no oil]
Every few hundred kilometres we would come across a lone traveller in the middle of nowhere desperately hoping for a bus to come by to take him home. There are factories and constructions in remote areas in the mainland and there are rare communications to these stations. The workers travel tens of kilometre on foot to the main road and spend hours waiting for a bus or car to help them reach closer to home. To have a car full of water and food and air conditioning in that merciless terrain is a privilege of the blessed. We were the blessed.
1100 kilometres into Oman, the weather finally started changing. The desert was a fiery 44 degrees Celsius and the temperature was coming down to below 30C now. The sun had set, the winds had changed, the terrain promised an oasis ahead. A 100 kilometres outside Salalah it had started being windy. By the time we reached Salalah, it had begun drizzling with a fog settling in. We were on a hill, visibility was less than a metre and the car was dead silent, the temperature dropping to 20 degrees Celsius. Thrill, adventure, joy, relief all started pouring in as we made our way to the resort. The resort welcomed us with the smell of the sea, the humidity of the coast and the music of the lashing waves. Salalah was a true Oasis in the desert, and she had so much more to offer the next day.
We woke up in the morning to a land so green we could not believe it belonged to the Middle East. It was the monsoon season in Salalah and the greens popped out a colour no Instagram filter could justify. The Wadi Darbat in Salalah is a popular tourist destination. It boasts lush green mountains and a lake. Unique to the region are stray camels running across the green pastures. It was a sight out of a parallel world. I have never associated camels in any other terrain than a sandy desert. But the sight of them merrily eating grass and wandering about the hills was surprisingly serene.
A few minutes’ drive away from Wadi Darbat is a region of anti-gravity. It is a small stretch of land where the cars can drive up the road without any acceleration. We experimented this and our SUV dragged itself upwards on the inclined road with no foot on the accelerator.
While driving back to the resort we found a quiet cliff off the road where we parked for a while and watched the mighty Arabian sea crash into the shores. We stared back from the edge of Oman.
From the hustle and bustle of Dubai to the quiet nature of Salalah. The drive back to our lives was less enthusiastic. We were awed by the beauty of the greenery as the terrain changed from lush green hills, to edgy rocky mountains, to finally the 1000 kilometre stretch of barren desert land.
We reached back to Dubai in a record 11 hour, in perfect time to enjoy a warm dinner while uploading our memories online.
Apply visa online beforehand, otherwise applying Visa at the border will cause you a lot of delay in your journey.
Resorts would probably be the best place to stay and relax.
Carry plenty food as there are less stops on the highway and the options of food available might not be as enticing.
Restrooms at the petrol pumps on Oman side of the journey are not most hygienic. Hence go when you get the chance while in UAE part of the journey.