Muscat: The next time you go out to the desert, keep an eagle eye for lakes that have formed between the sand dunes.
Often found in the area of Niyabat Al Mashash in Wilayat Muqshin in the southern Dhofar Governorate, these lakes are about 40km from the main town in the region, and are a major attraction for both tourists and locals in the area.
While Al Atefah is among the more famous of these oases, others in this area of the desert are equally popular among photographers, who come here to take stunning photos of the pristine blue waters against the soft, grainy sand, interspersed with scrub and other desert vegetation.
Winters are often the best time to visit Niyabat Al Mashash, when the area experiences ideal weather. People sometimes choose to camp in the desert during the nights, which can get quite chilly, while the day sees excursions of hikers and adventurers explore the golden sands and what lies beyond them.
Desert sports on the dunes are also rather common at this time.
Niyabat Al Mashash is located northwest from the centre of Dhofar, on the southeastern borders of the Empty Quarter, about 400km away from the regional capital of Salalah. People who wish to visit the area from Maqshin can take a 130km-long dirt road, which also crosses the area of Al Manadir.