For any adventurous traveller in the UAE, an overland trip to Salalah is a must. All you need is a reliable vehicle, lots of fuel and some time. We also decided to take some audio books with us for the 4.500 kilometers.

Salalah is in the far south in the Dhofar region of the Sultanate of Oman, close to the border to Yemen. Salalah is especially renowned for its climate because it catches the monsoon that results in cooler summer temperatures, and has hills covered in lush green grass and bushes. Even if you’re not travelling in the summer months, it’s still worth a visit. A lot of people these days just fly to Salalah and rent a 4×4 there, but it’s a different experience driving your own car through the remote terrain. You’ll travel for a long time without even seeing another vehicle and without a change of scenery. A couple of years ago there was only a graded track, but nowadays the road is paved straight to Salalah. As it’s about 1.000 km to Salalah we decided to make some stops along the way. We started our trip at 9.30 in the morning from Abu Dhabi and crossed the border into Al Ain.

Our first stop for the day was Quantum Beach south of Muscat. The beach was lovely and quite clean. There are even some old ruins where you can put up your tent and in the morning you can do some snorkeling or swimming. We decided to do a dolphin tour in Muscat and went snorkeling for the rest of the day. The next day we had an appointment with turtles in Ras Al Jinz. On the way to Ras Al Jinz we decided to get off the beaten track and took a diversion through Wadi Al Arabii. From there we drove to the “White Beach” in Fins and then back onto the paved road through Sur and Ras Al Hadd to the turtle beach. Our tour there started at 4am. We walked to the beach with a group of about 25 people and two guides. Luckily enough we saw a two huge green turtles that were laying eggs and we also found some baby turtles that made their way to the ocean. Unfortunately only one in a thousand baby turtles survive. After we watched the beautiful dawn breaking on the beach we drove further south to Sannah. From there we took a ferry to Mazirah Island. The journey took about an hour and the cost for the one-way 20 km trip was 10 OR. We used the hour on the ferry to get some rest before checking in to the Swiss-Belhotel.

We went swimming and took a walk along the endless beach chatted with some friendly local fishermen. We found a wreck of an old dhow on the beach and a bit further south we watched some crabs and ospreys. It only takes a day to discover the whole island, so we enjoyed an evening by the pool and a relaxed dinner in the hotel restaurant. The following morning we took another ferry and started the longest stretch of our journey so far … 800 km through the desert to Salalah. Luckily there are a couple of new rest stops on the way where you can fill up your tank and your tummy. After hours of sand and stone desert we finally saw the Dhofar Mountains and we knew Salalah couldn’t be far away. We crossed the mountains and made our way to Al Mughsayl Beach, west of Salalah. We arrived at the beach before sunset and were happy to have our little barbeque.

The next day began with breakfast on the beach, then we went to the Blowholes only a couple of kilometres west of our camping spot. The Al Mughsayl Blowholes have formed naturally in the limestone rocks. Through these holes plumes of water can reach a height of 30 metres or more. An amazing site. From there it’s also only a short drive to Wadi Aful on incredible mountain passes where you have a wonderful view of the ocean. After the gorgeous view we drove back east to visit Salalah, stopping at Ayn Jarziz and the Nabi Ayoub Tomb where the prophet Nabi Ayoub is buried. Further north we drove to Wadi Uyun and then back to our beach Al Mughsayl. The next day we explored the east of Salalah, starting off in Mirfat. In this old fishermen village is the tomb of another prophet, Bin Ali. Not far from Mirfat is the boabab forest. Unfortunately there was a lot of road construction around the forest, so we couldn’t get there and went straight to Khawr Rori. This is a gorgeous bay which had been a lively port about a hundred years ago when the locals traded with Francinese Trees. There are still some old ruins from that time that can be visited.

In the BUCHT the camels, flamingos, birds and herons took over and use it as their new habitat. Right next to the bay is Wadi Dirbat, a nature reserve with a lot of plants, palm trees, camels, waterfalls and lakes. In the summer time there is a 100 metre tall waterfall at the Travertine Curtain. After a short break for lunch we went on to the Tawi Atayr Sinkhole, which is also known as “Well of the Birds.” This natural hole has a diameter of 150 meters and is 211 meters deep. It’s the biggest hole of that kind in the world and home to hundreds of birds. On the way back to Salalah we took a little diversion to Ayn Razat, a public park with flowers, trees and pools. A lot of people used the nearby river to wash themselves and their clothes. Since we were desperate for a proper shower we checked in to Samharam Village and had a good rest before we had the most exhausting day of our journey: a 900km drive to Nizwa. We started our last day in Salalah at the Francinsene History Museum and the Maritime Museum and made our way back north. We reached Nizwa in the evening and were happy to get a nice dinner at the Golden Tulip. Exhausted, we fell into our beds. On our last day we checked out some forts around Nizwa before droving back to the UAE. We reached Abu Dhabi after our 4,500km trip that evening with many memories of great views and unforgettable experiences.

Sasha Ritter