Of the numerous attractions clustered in the countryside around Salalah, the majority are located to the east of the city. The construction of extensive new roads (plus generally helpful signs) has made many places – which formerly required 4WD and a large slice of local knowledge – independently accessible to anyone with a saloon rental car. Leading attractions include the remains of the ancient port of Sumhuram, once one of the key staging posts in the frankincense trade, overlooking the idyllic creek of Khor Rori. Close by lies Wadi Darbat, home to a spectacular waterfall during the khareef, and the even more dramatic uplands of the Jebel Samhan, whose sheer limestone walls tower above the coastal plain; the drive up to the top is easily combined with stops to see the cavernous sinkholes of Tawi Attair and Taiq. Further along the coast lies the magical town of Mirbat, while those with a sense of adventure and time to spare can follow the recently tarmacked coastal road all the way to Hasik, some 200km east of Salalah.

All the main sights are fairly close to one another and can be visited in various permutations. A particularly rewarding day-trip can be made by combining the highlights of the area: Sumhuram and Khor Rori with the road up Jebel Samhan via Wadi Darbat; or, alternatively, Sumhuram and Khor Rori with Mirbat. With an early start you could just about squeeze all three into a longish day.

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