Dhofar

Travel Guide Middle East Oman Dhofar

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Introduction

The Dhofar Governorate is the largest of the eleven Governorates in the Sultanate of Oman in terms of area. It lies in Southern Oman, on the eastern border with Yemen. It is a rather mountainous area that covers 99,300 km2 and has a population of 249,729 as of the 2010 census. The largest city, as well as capital of the Governorate, is Salalah. Historically the region was the chief source of frankincense in the world.

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Geography

Dhofar's area geographically consists of coastal, mountainous, flat, and desert areas. Generally the people of Dhofar can be identified as either Jeballi (living in the mountains, or from the mountains), Badawi (living in the desert, or from the desert), or Hadhari (living in the cities or settlements).

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

  • The Land of Frankincense Sites - There are four sites that have been collectively inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, including the ruins of Shisr and Wadi Dawkah Natural Park, Al Baleed, and Sumhuram.

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Events and Festivals

Salalah Tourism Festival

While July and August may be too hot for a visit in northern Oman, these months are great for Salalah and the surrounding areas. During this time of the year, the region experiences Khareef season, a time when monsoon rains bring in life to the land, making for stunning tropical landscapes. This high tourist season is the time when cultural celebrations and parades are held in and around town to entertain both locals and tourists.

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Weather

Dhofar has a subtropical climate. Dhofar and a small portion of the northern tip of Yemen are directly exposed to the South East monsoon from mid-June to mid-September; this is known as the Khareef. As a result, it has a lush green climate during the monsoon season and for some time after until the vegetation loses its moisture. Dhofar's temporarily wet climate contrasts sharply with the neighboring barren Empty Quarter Desert. The Salalah plain was once a well cultivated area with a sophisticated irrigation system.

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Getting There

By Plane

There are flights to/from Dubai, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Doha.

By Car

Driving to Salalah from Muscat takes roughly 12 hours, and can either be an amazing and memorable experience, or a very uncomfortable one depending on what kind of traveller you are. The first 5 hours are very scenic, as you pass Rusayl, Nizwa and other small towns. However, it's barren desert and oil fields for most of the remainder of the trip, with the only larger settlements along this stretch being Haima and Thumrait.

Travelling at night is usually better than driving in the heat of day (arriving in Salalah at night is a must, as the city lights from the high-altitude entry point are gorgeous). Watch out for renegade dunes on the way. There are several stops along the way for food, drinks, a cigarette break, or nature calls – you should take every opportunity to stop, as there might not be another one for many more kilometres.

By Bus

Oman National Transport Company runs buses to/from the Ruwi station in Muscat three times daily, with the trip lasting 12 hours. Bus transport to/from Muscat is also offered by Malatan Trading (As Salam St, tel. +968 23 211299) and Bin Qasim Transport (tel. +968 23 291786), both with identical fares.

By Boat

There is at least one operator in Muscat that will charter you to Salalah.

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Getting Around

A rental car is necessary to really explore the region. Most areas are now easily accessible with a 2WD, but there are still a handful of sights (e.g. Shisr and some of the more remote wadis and beaches) that require a 4WD, particularly during the khareef.

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Eat

Dhofar is well-known for honey, which is harvested several times a year. There are several distinctive seasonal types, the most unusual of which is frankincense honey, harvested in April and available in the souqs.

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Dhofar Travel Helpers

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This is version 1. Last edited at 13:03 on May 3, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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