You would probably say it’s too early to discuss travel plans for the Khareef season but if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past, you can never plan too early when it comes to this hotly anticipated event that seemed to just get even bigger year by year. In 2018, National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) has shared that more than 800,000 people visited the Dhofar Governorate vis a vis Khareef season and if things go smoothly this year, it might just hit the one million mark and that’s a lot of people in a short amount of time collected at one beautiful place. While it’s a challenge to go outside because of the expected above 45 degrees temperature happening in the next three days, what better way to make use of your free time than making a definite plan that would make this year’s travel plans seamless.
List down the places you want to see
Dhofar is a big place. It has deserts and mountains, beaches and valleys, emerald pools and dashing waterfalls. While it’s unimaginable how these places will be filled with people, during Khareef you better believe that like ants, all places will be occupied. Map out your itinerary properly. Do you want to visit Mugsayl beach? Then it would help early on to know that it’s in the opposite direction of Ayn Athum and Wadi Darbat. Do a little bit of research and break down different places according to the number of days dedicated for your trip. It is advisable to visit three to four locations a day but packing all destinations in one day will totally be impossible. If you have a shorter time period for travel, identify which to you are the priorities and plan the transport and travel accordingly.
Learn a bit of history
When visiting Dhofar, remember that you are in one of the world’s historic-filled places. If you venture about three or four hours from the city towards the desert, you will find yourself in the Lost city of Ubar — where it is said that many of the ancient travellers stop over to get their frankincense. In one of its mountains, you will find Khor Rori or Sumuharam believed to be the former location of one of the Queen of Sheba’s castles. You’d also find within the governorate Sadah Castle, Mirbat Castle and Taqah Castle and not to forget the tomb of Prophet Ayub (Job). These historical destinations will be eye-opening for your kids and even for you so make sure to visit a couple of them if your time allows. Dhofar, after all, is not just all about nature but also about the people who live there and transformed the land to the mesmerising location we know today.
Plan out your mode of transport
Will the whole family be flying? Or are you all planning to take a bus and then, later on, rent a car in Salalah? Or will you opt to go on a road trip? While flying would definitely work for smaller groups, you might end up spending a fortune if there’s about eight or more of you travelling. Plan out how you want to go and research on the best ways that will work for you and your group. If flying, by booking early, you can make sure that you will be able to able the best prices available. There’s a budget plane that would get you there with fewer worries about spending so much time on the road. If you will be travelling by car, map out the road properly and identify stops that can help make your trip bearable. Also, make sure have a buddy system for driving that way if one driver is tired, another one can step into the rescue. If taking a bus and renting a car in Salalah, it will be much better to identify car rental provider early on to avoid prices spiking because of limited options.
Book your rooms early
Time and again, you can’t let this part of your travel to chance. Are you bringing your family along? How many will there be on the trip? Do you plan to go camping for a few days? Despite the fact that there are a lot of places to stay in Salalah and the nearby areas, the huge swell of tourists and visitors can translate to a big headache. It is important to think about how many days you are planning to stay and whether you will be bound to one hotel room or you will opt for cheaper homestay or even camping. While many think that it’s easy to find a camping ground in Dhofar, you should also remember that weather condition can change and a day or two of rain can definitely ruin a good camp plan. Better have an alternative. By booking your room a month or two in advance, you guarantee that you can negotiate a good price eliminating a potential travel horror.