Land of Frankincense
The Land of Frankincense trail showcases the Dhofari frankincense trade whose network extended across Arabia, Asia, and Africa in ancient and medieval times. Its sites span the frankincense trees of Wadi Dawkah; the remains of a caravan oasis at Shisr; the Al-Baleed archaeological site and Museum of Frankincense Land; and Khor Rori, once an ancient frankincense port.
Many Salalah tours feature a selection of sites, letting you chart the trade with a guide and convenient door-to-door transport. Most city round-ups visit Al-Baleed; while others showcase Khor Rori’s lagoon and its relics of the frankincense seaport, Sumharum. Alternatively, combine desert adventure and history with trips to Oman’s Empty Quarter desert that stop at Shisr—site of the Lost City of Ubar—and Wadi Dawkah on route.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Land of Frankincense trail will interest history, archaeological, and outdoor enthusiasts.
- Skip self-drive hassles by booking tours with round-trip transport and guiding.
- Parts of each site are wheelchair-accessible, while the Frankincense Museum is fully wheelchair-friendly.
How to Get There
Al Baleed and its museum lie in Salalah’s Al-Haffa area and are easily reached by cab or rental car, as is Khor Rori, a 35-minute drive along the coast. Wadi Dawkah sits 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north, off the Salalah-Muscat highway. Most distant is Shisr—accessible via highway 43 from Thumrait, 50 miles (81 kilometers) north of Salalah.
When to Get There
Al-Abeed typically opens daily from 8am-8pm and its Frankincense Museum from 9am-9pm Sunday-Thursday, and 3pm-9pm Friday-Saturday. Wadi Dawkah and Shisr are usually accessible during the main part of the day. The sites are never crowded, but because most are outdoors, they’re best visited in the cooler November-March season.
Exploring the Four Frankincense Sites Al Baleed was a major medieval port exporting frankincense to India and beyond. Its ruins include mosque pillars, walls, and tombstones; and its museum displays pottery, coins, and artifacts. Khor Rori features remnants of the ancient port of Sumharum; while Wadi Dawkah is a working reserve of Boswellia sacra trees, which produce top-quality frankincense. Shisr edges Oman’s vast Empty Quarter, and boasts the relics of what might be the Lost City of Ubar, a crossroads on the ancient frankincense route said to be 3,000 years old.
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