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From the north, I now start exploring the south.
I head into the mountains north of Taqah. They are quite fertile, although a bit dry by now. That does not prevent the locals from having a lot of cows. I see a huge and rather fat Adenium arabicum, and that is one of my primarily targets. While I look for more in the cows' rather bushy fields, I find many other interesting plants. Here are some purple-flowering Solanaceae with yellow fruits; Solanum incanum, Acacias, small herbs, Commiphoras, Lamiaceaes, Cissus quadrangularis some with leaves on and many more.
My waypoint this morning is the huge sinkhole of Tawi Attair. As expected, the entire area is real interesting. Not only because of the flora; here are so many birds as well. The Commiphoras here are up to five metres tall, but the Cissus quadrangularis can reach the top. They have some parasitic plants on them - unknown species.
I do a long walk in the area, formed by ancient limestone and partly covered with gravel. I find a Jatropha, which must be the local Jatropha dhofarica. Another numerous plant is the flowering Calotropis procea. It is strange how some plants are in full growth and flowering, while other species are completely dormant.
I have passed some huge fig trees, and I think is actually are Ficus vasta.
I keep finding more and more Adenium arabicum, one more fat than the previous. Some are flowering, and there are quite some different in their colours. A few of the have fresh fruits, some are spreading their seeds.
Despite the birds; starlings, bee-eaters, quarrels, finches, stone-pickers, falcons, eagle and others, I see only a few insects. Different grasshoppers and a few flies and beetles. Here are a few small lizards too.
A few Cucumis prophetarum have their prickly fruits.

I head further up the road, into the high plateau. It turns significantly dryer, and the Adenium arabicum get even fatter. Here, they are round like a ball. I find a few Asclepiadaceae: Desmidorchis tardellii, but none flowers.
Another interesting little bush start to be numerous, but despite its white sap, I'm not sure what it is. The Euphorbia cactus, on the other hand, is easy to identify. Same goes for the weird Caralluma flava.

As I reach the edge of the plateau, the rocks turn black by lichen, and only a few plants, mainly annuals, are found here. The farmers have build many enclosures in rocks, and the grassing must be good in a limited period.
I reach the end of the sealed road, and a parking lot. It turns out to be one of the most fantastic places I ever seen: It is a kilometre high wall with a view to the sea, 15 kilometres away. Further more, here are several Dracaena serrulata!
I follow a narrow path, near the top, and it leads through lichen-overgrown Commiphoras, huge Ficus vasta and some Euphorbias. Her are several herbs and some Cucumis prophetarum. But the view to the valley, deep below, the distant sea and the wall it self are the main events.

After a long walk, I return to the car, and engulf a box of chocolate bisques and a lot of water. Then I find a gravel road, leading in to the high interior. Her are not the expected Dracaena serrulata at all, but the wadis reveals some other interesting plants. One is the minute Euphorbia hadramautica. I also find a few Aloe dhufarensis.
I give up on the Dracaena serrulata for now, hoping I will find some further out west. And I think I have received enough sun for one day! I start driving down towards the coast, only to turn into the mountains once again, doing a long detour back to Salalah.
I see a lot of camels, one long line consist of more then 50! Another place, hundred of goats are feeding on "my" plants. It seems like the interior is mainly huge, flat hills with dry grass and little else. On one hill, I find some Euphorbia balsamifera with leaves on.

I end up at the perfect sandy beach in Salalah, just to drive a few more metres to their suq. Here are, to my big surprise; tourists. I hear American, French and German. While they keep their distance, the shopkeepers are eager to get selfies with me. That give me a great opportunity to get photos of them, although most are foreigners. I get my weekly shave, and an additionally massage and haircut.
I grab supper on the way home, and start washing cloths. I have prepared; soaking a hand soap, and despite the apartment is fitted with a twin tube washing machine, I only use the spinner.
I have experienced way too much, taken way too many photos and I have to plan tomorrow as well.
Day 5: The mountains with plants

10. In an effort to find the perfect Dracaena serrulata - and because I don't seem to find records of where to look for it - I head towards Yemen. It is kind of the coastal road,  although it only touches the coast a few places..
Here are a considerable higher present of military. Their most common vehicle is the trooper carrier: Mantra - quite well-named, as I se it again and again an again.
The first part I drive through, are really dry, and here are barley traces of yellow grass. I find a tinny gravel road, leading into the foothills. Despite I can't see any plants, I have to investigate. In a ravine, I find the first plants. The unknown Commiphora is by far the dominating species. I find another bush I don't recognise, a few Caralluma flava and Cissus quadrangularis and on the edge; some nearly dormant Commiphora myrrha.
The next stop reveals some Aloe dhufarensis and not much more. As I continues west, I meet quite some camels on the road. It appears as they can't see the cars at all!
Then I spot something new on a hillside. It is a large Sansevieria ehrenbergii, sitting among the dry grass. Here are several groups, but I don't see many at all. The usual "suspects": Commiphora, Cissus quadrangularis and Adenium arabicum are everywhere!

On the next hill, a new vine is flowering, and it have a Shining Sunbird; Cinnyris habessinicus visiting. I can't get to the plant, but I hope to find it later. It appears to have some rather large and strange fruits. Besides from a few new herbs, I find nothing interesting.
The the road meets the sea, and the beach is once again perfect: Almost white sand and so blue sea. The dunes have some new plants, but not that interesting to me.
Some birds in the shallow water look a bit strange. A bit like herons, but in a group? I sneak closer, and it turn out to be flamingos! They are grey, but flamingos they are. Here are other birds, some beach-based, other more common like martins and doves.

I reach some boats on the beach, and next to them; a flock of mixed seagulls. Again, I realises; A proper camera with a 500mm lens would occasionally be nice! A bit further on, some Ipomoea pes-caprae are flowering. Next stop is at the cave of Marneef.
I would not call it a cave, as it is just a giant mushroom-shaped rock. Some quarrels take off, starling stay and martins are all over the place.  Again, I am amassed about the colour of the sea!

As the road enters the heights again, the vegetation vanish. Only the ravines have something interesting. The wind is rather harsh, and I feel a bit like a kite: Long, thing arms and legs in combination with vide clothing. Never the less, I fight the best I can, and make some documentation photo of the new herbs and alike.
The next stop is on the slope, given shelter!
Here I find three different types of Commiphora along with one of the first termite mounts I have seen. The Commiphoras are the large Commiphora myrrha, the low Commiphora sp with red stem and a new with minute leaves. Then I find a new caudiciform, and despite I recognises the leaves, no name pop-up - real annoying! A single plant have a fruit - which doesn't help either. The red sap just confuses me additionally. The pealing bark is no help either. On it, I find a single, real colourful beetle - no clue to what it is either! When I go through the photos, I realise I also found a Euphorbia hadramautica.

The road goes into a huge gorge, and that causes for several photos and some walking. More and more Euphorbia cactus are found, and then some Dracaena serrulata. They sit too high for me to walk, and I hope to find more later.
The road kind of meet the sea, although 400 meters higher up. I see a gravel road twining it way down to Al Fizayah, and give it  a go. Here are several shelves, filled with plants and camels. Some five metres Commiphora, which I recognises from the giant sinkhole are dormant like the Adenium arabicum, which get even fatter. Here are a lot of yellow grass and camels to feed from it.
I slowly work my way down the the sea, but the amount of motives make it painfully slow. A few Dracaena serrulata are found on the slopes, and I climb up to them. The hardest climb bring me right up to the road I drown minutes ago. The Dracaena serrulata were hidden behind the edge. When I finally get to it, I can't get far enough from it to get a photo of it, at all.

I reach the beach, and again, I am baffled about how perfect it look. I have it all to my self - except from some camels. I try to capture the colour of the sea and the limestone wall behind it. Then I find some new plants in this relatively moist area: A fern. I spend a lot of time in the area, but I still have a long way to the Yemen border.
A bit further up the road, the mountain is covered in Dracaena serrulata. I make a long walk to them, and find the area to be dry as expected. Here are many other interesting plants, and I make way too many photos - again. Somehow, I fail to get any colours on these photos. The strange vine I saw with a sunbird in is here too. It have some strange fruits, and I can't figure the family at all.

I head a bit inland, and up to the highland. Here, the military have a check-point. The office at the hotel were closed this morning, and I figured I could do without my passport, as I'm not actually going to cross the border to Yemen. Well, these soldiers would have like to see it, but a big smile and an even bigger moustache does the trick. I hope the same will apply on the way back!
The next 60 kilometres is on the high plateau - and rather boring. Then a sign show of to a cave and a sea view. Why not. Well, I have seen their "caves", but there might be a good view? The landscape drops enough till here are quite some vegetation. First, it is the Commiphora/Adenium fields. Then the greener Acacia area starts.
Over a new hill, and here are the sea - 500 metres down! I try, but I fail to show it on picture. Never the less, it is truly amassing!

A bit further down the road, I finally find some tea. Then there is yet another military control, and I get through. The landscape soon start to drop, and the upper areas look like the African bush savannah, with the scatted Acacias. Euphorbia balsamifera become the dominating plant a while, then the road drops drastically, and the vegetation changes again, and here are almost green!. The views are so fantastic - and useless in pictures. It is too green for me, and I drive straight to the border. The Omani side let me through with car, just no pictures! Sure, I never make any... I turn around a bit inside Yemen, bust before they ask for the passport I don't have.

The sun is getting low, and I better drive back. I just have to make photo stops. At the edge of the mountain, the trees are covered in mosses.
Day 6: The road to Yemen

11. The plan is simple; find somewhere dull to explore. That way, the work with photos and diary will be so much easier in the evening - and I need that. It is not the driving or hours of walking that wears me down, it is the computer work afterwards - and the lack of sleep.
I decide to make a loop around the two roads, following the Yemen border north-south. I expect quite some driving, less botanizing, as I think it is mainly barren highland.

The first part up to the highland is real fertile - at least in the rainy season. Here are still a lot of yellow grass between the bushes. I make a few stops, but here are no new plants.
As the road reach the edge of the highland, it changes breathily to more annuals and succulents. Then it is barren land. Despite the altitude drops to 500 metres from 800 - or just because of that, it receives little or no rain at all. Only the old riverbeds and lower parts, made by excavating material for the excellent road, houses a few plants. But here are still camel farmers, it seem?
It is still limestone mountains, but most are broken down to gravel. Some areas are almost covered in black flint. It is only the surface of the flint, being black, go figures? The riverbeds have different round rocks, mainly marble. Some are pink, others white.

I reach a military check-point, but the cheerful guys (all of them) just want to say hi, and I'm free to drive on. They have sat up shop in the first major riverbed, which I would have loved to explore, but despite the smiles; no photo. Well, I probably pass that dried river again. And yes; I do. Here are some Acacias and a lot of Sodom's apple milkweed Calotropis procera. Somehow, they do quite fine where nothing else, not even Acacias will grow. Here, they get a lot of cork on their stems.
Here are a lot of tracks in the sand, but it might been made over quite some time. I get quite some driving done, as the lack of plants keep me in the car. But the riverbeds just have to be explored. One have some odd palms and not much more.

I reach a tiny town where the road forks out. The mug is filled with hot tea, but they don't serve food - they claim. The soldiers get hamburgers - or sort of: A bun get "Smiling Cow"-cheese on, and  a small bag of Omani potatoes chips, chilly flavoured, is crushed, and sprayed over. Packed in paper and heated in the micro oven. I'll pass.
I chose the west-bound road, leading to the Yemen border. Not much have changed, but one riverbed offers some new Cucurbitaceae: One with small, spiny fruits, one with cricket ball-sized smooth fruits.
The ground is clay, dried out to a crisp. Bricks, six centimetres thick look like man-made sealing. The dominating plant is still Sodom's apple milkweed Calotropis procera.

The area changes - still bone dry, but the limestone and ancient coral reef have gone into marble; pink marble! They form a slightly different rock, and I have a walk around. Then it flattens out again, and only the man-made holes have plants. Mirages imitates huge lakes in the horizon, but I never reach them!
Close to the border, Al Mazyunah is a rather big city. Here, the restaurants do serve food, and I get a role with eggs. This is a truck-stop, and some of the trucks are truly large and loaded to a degree I haven't seen before.

I turn around at the border control - this time at the Omani! On the way back, I see some migrating eagles, sitting in the desert. At the village at the road-fork, I turn south at a gravel road to meet the coastal route. The landscape seems flat, but numerous huge canyons are found on both sides of the road.
On one of the low mountains, I see a hole, and it have to be investigated. It offers a great frame for photos of the valleys on both sides - and little else.

Despite the area is almost completely barren, here are a few settlements. Just a few brick houses and tent-like sheets.  I have no idea of, what these people do out here! Well, one is selling me a mug of tea.
I stop many times to try and capture the canyons, but it kind of fails. They are simply too big!
The gravel road finally meet the southern highway, and I head home in the last light. 600 kilometres, only 200 photos; a success. I can't help feeling a bit like; I have forgotten - or skipped something, when I'm finish work before ten.
Day 7: The northern road to Yemen

12. I catch up on much needed sleep, and then it is time for me to leave the southern Dhofa region. I think I have se most of what it offer on this time of year. I head north-east on the northern road, inland, towards Haima. I consider it to be a transport day; 500 kilometres through rather dull, flat and almost barren highland. 
It start with the fertile slopes, but as soon the road meets the high plateau, it turns dry, real dry! I make a loop into the last slightly moist area, finding the usual desert plants. Then it is barren, and only the colour of the sand and gravel changes. No mountains break the horizon, not a single village, and 250 kilometres to the first gas station and warm tea.
Right after this truck-stop are a slightly moist area, offering a few desert plants, a beetle and a hole in the ground. 50 kilometres later, some kind of forest is seen to the north. I find my way out to it through the gravel, but is is just scattered Acacias.

Back at the main road, sand is shifting across, and dunes are formed along the side of the road. A few places have the usual salt-bush, else it is barren.
I reach Haima after noon, and grab a bite and some hot tea the usual place. Then I stock muesli the usual place, and book into a room the usual place.
Then I find a trail leading north, towards the Saudi border. Despite I drive for over a hour on the rough gravel, I see no plants at all. Back in Haima, I cross the main road, and head a bit south, towards the sea. It was the road I came bye past I was in Haima, and besides from barren desert, it does not offer anything else. There are not much botanical-vice to explore in the central Oman! A huge tank is transported on a special rig, and it make a great motive. I'm back before supper, and start to work.
Day 8: Southern desert drive

As I now leave the south, and enters the north, it is time for diary 3.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2  3