Dhofar, the fragrant paradise of Oman

Dhofar, the fragrant paradise of Oman
Dhofar, the fragrant paradise of Oman
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Oman is a sweet and moderate country, the capital Muscat it is the perfect example light years from the dizzying cities of the Gulf all glass and steel. Even the houses are low, and the buildings do not exceed two or three floors, a refined building softened by the rigor of a national law that imposes at least one element of tradition. May it be a dome, a Persian arabesque or an Ottoman arch does not matter, the dimension of living in Oman is a completely different story, so the welcome in every corner of this beautiful country, whoever has discovered the Dhofar, the southern part overlooking the Indian Ocean. A land rich in history, always a crossroads of peoples, once a reference for the incense and spice trade, today a place increasingly loved by tourists from all over the world who find here a “thousand and one nights” holiday amidst the fascinating atmospheres of a sober Arab world, rich in traditions and poor in impositions, more tolerant and open to free thought.

The region of the Dhofar attracts above all for the magnificent nature: a transparent sea where dolphins dart, long golden beaches dotted with the footprints of dromedaries, and coastal dunes that give way to those of the desert of Rub Al Khalithe immense “empty quarter”, as the locals call it. And yet spectacular formations overhanging the waves and caves where migratory birds nest, coastal ravines where the ocean rumbles, howls in contrast to the silences of the inland outposts, where tales and legends are rumored such as that of the Queen of Sheba, sovereign of the southern lands. The Dhofar it is also the gateway for the mythical Way of the Incensean intertwining of ancient roads once traveled by caravans that crossed the voids of the desert to reach the Mediterranean, merchant loads wrapped in the scent of frankincense, an aromatic resin that was once worth more than gold. The locals call it “tears of the gods”, a gift of nature extracted from the plant of Boswellia sacra which covers entire valleys, like the suggestive Wadi Dawkahone of the largest woods in Boswellia of the region. A raw material that has made history by tracing routes and interests, has inspired myths and suggestions, and today imbues Omani everyday life with its fragrance. Wherever you can smell its essence, the most romantics use it as an antidote to melancholy, others even use it against colds, while there are those who opt for a relaxing massage that smells of its essential oils, especially when you are on an outdoor holiday. ‘sign of well-being. If you are on the same page, a stay to the Bravo Salalah Rotana is the one for you, an oasis a few kilometers from the lively capital of the regionSalalah, where to find a relaxed, exotic and elegant atmosphere, and indulge in maximum relaxation.

Stories of the sea, between dolphins and enchanted coasts

Tall coconut palms shade the private beach of the Bravo Salalah Rotana, framing a perfect glimpse of the Indian Ocean, the first still image of a unique holiday full of surprises, starting with a walk on the shore in the saddle of a dromedary. For those who want to dive into the clear waters of the ocean, access to the sea in this stretch of coast is gentle and sloping, also suitable for less experienced swimmers and children. Shallow and transparent waters, an enchantment populated by small fishes that swim undisturbed to the amazement of the swimmers, and a little further off sardine shoals that draw silvery choreographies on the surface of the water. But what surprises and excites are the dolphins that announce themselves by jumping, as if they wanted to draw attention. Swimming with them is a truly unique experience to practise snorkeling or diving admiring the coral reef, reachable safely with organized boat trips, perhaps with a typical dhow.

The ocean offers beautiful experiences, but exploring the coast is also an adventure. That of Dhofar it is designed by very long golden beaches alternating with rocky and jagged stretches overlooking the waves. The geosite of At Mughsailwhere a majestic limestone formation stands out in one of the most beautiful bays Oman, along the coast west of Salalah, towards Yemen. This rock vertigo is famous for the dandelions that spray water at the foot of the cliff, especially during the monsoon period kharif that the sea rages with strong gusts of wind, from June to early September. A landscape of rare beauty framed by groves of wild incense not far away, but also a place of biodiversity where thousands of migratory birds nest. Continuing westwards, stop at the Fazayah beachone of the wildest and most evocative coasts where you can swim and wait for the sunset, perhaps with an “aperitif” based on mint tea and sweet dates.


Hinterland: desert, oasis and lost cities

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In the Dhofar the interior is also full of beauties. In less than two hours, from Bravo Salalah Rotana you reach the desert area where the first dunes sway, nature that becomes art in the most extreme synthesis, that of the immense Rub Al Khali covering the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula. One of the driest and most inhospitable places on Earth, partly still unexplored, but full of legends and suggestions. Even the Bedouin populations do not enter the unknown sands and travel along millenary paths that touch it to a minimum, orienting themselves with the decline of the sun and the firmament. An excursion along these ancient itineraries is an adventure to be enjoyed in the company of an expert guide and perhaps wait for the evening to admire the sky that lights up with stars.

The hinterland of the governorate offers incredible contrasts like the Wadi Ayunan oasis in which a natural freshwater and emerald pool appears where you can take a refreshing dip, surrounded by lush vegetation during the monsoon period kharif. Another destination not to be missed is the Way of the Incense, a Unesco heritage itinerary that winds through the desert and testifies to the historical and cultural importance of Omani trade since its dawn. One of the most important crossroads along the route is the lost city of Ubar, today an archaeological site where the suggestion of testimony prevails: this settlement has little to reveal except some surviving walls and a dusty museum, yet its discovery, made in 1992 by a group of scholars through the analysis of satellite images, has revealed with certainty the famous “Atlantis of the sands”, once a fundamental center for the caravans that supplied themselves with water and food before crossing the desert. A beautiful example that reminds us of how important dreams and imagination are to think big and do research.

The article is in Italian

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