Travels in Oman

A photodiary of Mike's visit to the Sultanate of Oman

00Misfah28Photographs from Mike’s recent trip to Oman, taking in some of the breathtaking scenery from both the North and South of the Sultanate.

The focus of this year’s summit was Salalah in the region of Dhofar which is located in the south of the Sultanate close to the border with Yemen.  The region has its own microclimate that is quite different to the rest of the country and Arabian Peninsula.  During the summer months there is a monsoon season call the Khareef which creates an incredibly lush and green landscape; deep green valleys in the mountains that surround the coast in an arc and tropical plantations on the plains all the way to the Arabian Sea. Compared to the surrounding desert and mountains, the area provides welcome respite for locals and tourists from the searing heat of the summer months.  Indeed Dhofar is host to over 350,000 tourists annually, the majority of which are from Oman, and neighbouring countries and mostly during the Khareef season itself.

Dhofar is famed for Luban (Frankincense) and has been trading this rare commodity for thousands of years.  The area therefore has a wealth of history and archaeology, which can be easily explored.  My focus was mainly on Mirbat an ancient, but now largely defunct, port to the east of the Salahlan plain.

After returning to Muscat we travel to the Nizwa valley, which is a 4 hour drive east from Muscat.  Our research into the semi-abandoned settlements that can be found all over Oman led us to the village of Misfat al Abriyeen, which nestles in the mountains a few miles north of Al Hamra.  The proprietors of Misfah Old House have created an incredibly interesting model for tourism in Oman, by selectively and sensitively restoring a series of buildings within the village for use by tourists.  This simple, no frills approach gives an authentic experience of traditional life in Oman without being kitsch nor overly romantic.  On entry to the village guests are asked to observe a set of simple village rules.  The guest house provides traditional Omani hospitality, home-made food, promotes locally produced products and provides guides for trekking through the surrounding canyons and valleys.  The scenery is breath-taking.