A trip to Salalah can be done very quickly by plane from the UAE. However, we opted for a scenic coastal route from Abu Dhabi, which takes approximately 21 hours of driving one way. We crossed the border in Al Ain and then took a rest day in Muscat before continuing further south on the coastal route. Along the way, we were treated to breathtaking views of picturesque cliffs, charming villages, and vast expanses of mesmerising desert landscapes. If you enjoy road trips and are up for an adventure, or if you are in search of desert poetry, Salalah might be the perfect destination for your next trip. We embarked on this journey in July 2022 to witness the monsoon season known as khareef, which transforms the coastal town into a lush and misty green paradise.
We took off from Abu Dhabi, keeping in mind the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. Before crossing the border, we made sure to undergo the necessary tests. Fortunately, the border was relatively empty during this time of the year given the circumstances. Alongside a few other families, we patiently awaited visa processing. Although most of the formalities can be completed online, our paperwork had not arrived in time, so we had to do it in person at the border.
Our journey ahead involved several days of driving, with planned stopovers along the way. Our first stop was Muscat, which provided a quick and refreshing break before we continued our journey further south. We chose the coastal route, which was filled with lush green wadis, leading us to Sur, known for its turtle reserve. Since we travelled during the Eid al-Adha holiday, the reserve was bustling with visitors. However, we managed to secure overnight tent accommodations. The tents were surprisingly comfortable, and a short hike to the nearby hills rewarded us with impeccable views of the Gulf of Oman.
At the reserve, there were two guided tours each day, one at 9 PM and another at 5 AM. Due to the holiday season, both tours were full. Nevertheless, we made it to the beach where hundreds of turtles from the Indian Ocean come to nest each year. The guides made commendable efforts to keep people at a safe distance to avoid stressing the turtles. This was our second visit to the reserve, and despite the occasional lack of respect for the turtles from some visitors, we still cherished the experience. We witnessed the awe-inspiring sight of a big mother turtle laying approximately 100 eggs, and we observed numerous tracks left behind by other giant turtles as they made their way to the ocean.
In a few weeks, the baby turtles will hatch and attempt their perilous journey to the water. Unfortunately, their survival rate is quite low due to the presence of predators. Consequently, protecting the nesting areas becomes crucial for their survival.
Continuing our journey southward, we made a decision to spend the night in Duqm, which was conveniently located midway along our route. The road stretched out before us, long and serene, with thankfully minimal traffic. As we drove, the wind carried gusts of sand, reminding us of the scorching summer heat. Despite these conditions, the drive served as a refreshing experience, clearing our minds. To enhance the atmosphere, we tuned in to an Omani radio station, immersing ourselves in the captivating melodies of Arabic tunes. The music made the passing road all the more enjoyable.
Occasionally, we came across small towns along the way, many of which were incredibly picturesque, worthy of capturing in photographs. Whenever possible, we made stops to appreciate their charm, quickly capturing a snapshot before continuing our journey.