27-Nov-2002 -- We spent three weeks in November/December 2002 (straddling the Islamic Ramaḍān/`Īdu-l-Fiṭr holidays) travelling in Oman. The furthest our circuit took us from our home in Riyāḍ, Saudi Arabia, was the southern city of Ṣalāla, where we visited our first urban confluence point at 17N 54E. On the way south we visited 21N 57E, 20N 56E, and 18N 54E; and on the way to the east coast of Oman (on our return) we visited 18N 55E, 18N 56E and 19N 57E. In all we motored 8,300 km.
The drive from Riyāḍ to Oman via the UAE is 1,100 km, and although the roads are good it's sensible to take two days. Once over the border
we visited some of the many attractively restored forts, drove the track up Jabal Šams, and then took the long highway south, adding interest to our journey by visiting three confluence points, and, in between, one of the few salt domes where the salt layer has broken through the surface of the desert; and the archaeological site of Ubar.
We knew that the Ṣalāla confluence point was to the west of the city centre, and we started our search in the mellow, wintry afternoon light at 4:45 (sunset is at around 5:30 at this time of year). This last hour of the day is especially hushed in Muslim countries during Ramaḍān as everybody tries to be at home to prepare for the breaking of the day's fast. A few of the cars on the road made exuberant progress (rare exceptions to the orderly and responsible traffic of the country!). Our quest took us through an area of new, large villas - had the point been inside one of these we would hardly have been within the 100 metres allowed!
However, we discovered that the suburb had not yet covered the Confluence; indeed, a herd of goats only just escaped being immortalised as inhabitants. From left to right the southeast panorama shows the nearby villas, the Hilton Hotel, and Ṣalāla Port. At the time of our visit the green grass of August/September for which the Ẓufār region is famous had turned brown, however, even in November the contrast between desert and the hills just north of Ṣalāla (Jabal al-Qarrā'), with grass, frankincense trees, and with herds of cows, was memorable.
After several days of camping, and at the half way stage of our trip, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the convenient-for-confluence hotel.
Continued at 18N 55E.