Longing for a quick escape from the dubai July heat, we decided to spend 2 days in Salalah, Oman, during the Khareef festival (celebration of the monsoon season). Although the monsoon brings thick mist over the mountains, it also blesses the region with beautiful greenery and most welcoming cool weather (low to mid 20's Celcius).
Our hotel kindly suggested that we contact a local omani tourist guide to show us around, named Ali Al-Shahary, and Ali proved to be the best tour guide we ever have had (and a little more reasonably priced than the other tour companies)!
Ali compiled a two day tour for us of all the sites that we were most interested in, including Job's Grave (Nabi Ayub in arabic, which dates back some 3000 years or so), the ancient ruins of Queen of Sheba Palace, the fascinating Blow Holes along the coast, frankincense trees, magnificent scenery on mountain drives and other natural beauty.
We were most pleasantly surprised, and grateful, for Ali's promptness, his absolute humility, friendliness, kindness, professionalism, amazing knowledge of the region and its history, and especially for moulding our tour to our personal tastes. For example, we really wanted to "eat like a local" (when in Salalah, do as the "Salalah-ians" do, right?!), so Ali took us to one of the many, so welcoming, roadside tented "stone barbeques" (especially for the Khareef Festival) where we enjoyed tugging into some good old rather interesting (only for the most brave tourists though), but absolutely delicious, local quisine with our hands, and refreshing fire-brewed tea.
Because Ali has lived in the region all his life, he was also able to take us to secret little "nooks and crannies" that most tourists don't get to see, where we found ourselves facing some of the most spectacular scenery in the entire middle east!
The people of Oman are so welcoming, hospitable, and very "down to earth", and this is exactly what we found in Salalah. During the monsoon season, Salalah locals love to venture up the mountain roads and picnic with friends and family out in the mist! We also had the lovely experience of being invited to join some of the picniccing folk. Eventhough we did not know them at all, and did not share a common language except for a few words, these lovely people were so welcoming in sharing their picnic blankets and mor delicious and unique BBQed lunch with us (lots of smiles, a few giggles and a beautiful arabic melody too!).
Right there, on top of the mountains, up in the blankets of refreshing mist, away from the busy road, we knew that our experience with these wonderful folk was something special that we would never forget our entire lives!
Our amazing couple of days in Salalah was all thanks to our brilliant tour guide (and new found friend), Ali Al-Shahary.
If you are interested in enjoying the beauty and rich history of Salalah, we highly recommend Ali Al-Shahary and his private tour company. Ali seems very highly thought of and well known amongst the community of Salalah, and we found him just by asking for "a really good tour guide"! Thank you Ali!!!!