OMAN – Exploring the Frankincense Trail on our way from Salalah to Duqm

Oman - Frankencense Park of Wadi Dawkah
Oman - Frankencense Park of Wadi Dawkah

It was the 2nd day during my family road trip through Oman when we drove from Salalah to Duqm. It would be a long day covering quite some kilometers through the endless desert. The long drive was well worth it as we saw some amazing things which I will share with you!

Job’s Tomb (an-Nabi Ayyub)

Our first stop was at Job’s Tomb (an-Nabi Ayyub) (coordinates: N 17.11054 ; E 53.99492). It’s one of the three places where supposedly the prophet Job is buried. The place is small and takes just 30 minutes to explore but it’s kind out of the way of the Frankincense Trail we planned to drive. In the various religions Job is the most faithful person to God or Allah. It is God or Allah who let Satan disturb his live with illness and suffering and try to change his believe but Job kept believing and praying to God or Allah. After time God or Allah gave back his wealth and health as a reward for not turning away from Him.

Oman - Tomb of Prophet Job

We then wanted to go to prophet Hoods grave, but decided to skip it as it was not high on our list to see and we were maybe running out of time. The coordinates are (N17.21361 ; E 54.09549) in case you want to visit it.

UNESCO Frankincense Trail: Frankencense Park of Wadi Dawkah

We drove further north were you can see the landscape changing from green to desert. Before arriving to the desert we visited place number three of the UNESCO Frankincense Trail: the Frankincense Park of Wadi Dawkah. It is clearly sign posted at the highway while driving north. Here you can learn the history of the Frankincense Trail trade and see the trees up close.

Oman - Frankencense Park of Wadi Dawkah

The trees produce a resin that serves as incense when burned. It is harvested by cutting in the bark of the tree. The resin will bleed out of the tree forming crystals. These are later burned for the smell. The Frankincense Park of Wadi Dawkah is part of the Frankincense Trail in Oman, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In ancient time, starting 5 centuries ago, the product was traded over a large region what is now the Middle East and carried towards Europe. Until the middle ages the trade flourished after which it got into decline. After we finished exploring the wadi we drove further, deeper, into the desert.

UNESCO Frankincense Trail: Archaeological site of Shisr

Our next stop is at site number 4 of the UNESCO Frankincense Trail: the Archaeological site of Shisr (also called Ubar or Shasar) at coordinates N 18.254958; E 53.648690. This is kind of a remote site in north-west Oman in the middle of the desert. We took the old desert road to the place which is about 70 KM after Thumrait to the left (see also the map below, it’s at the point where we drove wrong first). Around Shisr you will find some farms where they cultivate the land in the middle of the desert and grass is growing; it’s quite interesting to see this. Shisr is said to be the key city in the Frankincense Trail trade in ancient time. It’s also said that it’s the lost city which is mentioned in the Quran. It was discovered by satellite images of NASA and after that it got excavated. It disappeard because the fort collapsed into a sinkhole. To see these remains in the middle of nowhere is very interesting and also to see how the people lived in ancient time. Make sure you fill up with water and some snacks in the new town there before heading further.

Oman - Shisr Ubar

From Shisr we decided not to drive the same way back but take the even more deserted road from Shisr directly north-eastwards, about an hour and a half over a dirt/gravel road without seeing anybody else besides desert, more desert and more sand! To the north of this you will find the Empty Quarter making up the border between Saudi Arabia and Oman. A great detour and we came along some skeletons of long passed away camels and some other wildlife. We arrived back to the newly paved road at coordinates N 18.675047; E 54.081860.

Oman - Dessert Road

From there it was quite an easy but a long drive to Duqm. At that time it got dark, and without anybody else on the road it’s quite spooky (watch out for camels on the road!). Try to turn off your headlights for a second, it’s really dark! We arrived in the evening to our Duqm hotel, the Crowne Plaza Duqm a great resort in the middle of nowhere! The next day we would spend time around Duqm, on a stretch of white beach you cannot imagine! See also our full 10 day Oman road trip itinerary for all the places we saw during our trip.

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Did you visit Duqm or the Frankincense Trail too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

Gallery Salalah to Duqm

Click an image for a full screen gallery of more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.