Days 10 & 11: The Land of Bountiful

Flying south to Salalah, in the south of Oman, we could see the barren landscape of the desert stretch out before us in every direction. This was our final destination: the only region that could possibly include the location for Nephi’s Bountiful. Only three sites have been proposed for Nephi’s Bountiful and our objective as a group was to visit each site and evaluate them firsthand according to Nephi’s own criteria. (To see more on the criteria for Nephi’s Bountiful click here). 

After checking into our hotel we departed for an afternoon tour with our driver, Abdullah. Our first stop was Bountiful candidate #1: Mughsayl. Mughsayl has not been seriously considered as a possibility for Bountiful by many people: it only meets a few of Nephi’s criteria and archeological digs at the site have not revealed traces of any late Iron Age human occupation. Nevertheless, it is a picturesque location with sweeping views of the ocean and impressive blowholes at high tide. We drove inland to the hills behind Salalah to quickly peek at the traditional site of the tomb of the prophet Job. At dusk we explored Salalah’s frankincense souk—a popular place to pick up frankincense, myrrh, and traditional Omani clothing.  Everyone was ready for dinner by the time we returned to the hotel, and we enjoyed an incredible seafood buffet at the hotel’s open-air restaurant, right on the beach. 

Day 2 in Salalah gave us significant insight into the history of the area and the major role it played anciently in the frankincense trade. We spent the morning at the Museum of the Land Frankincense and braved the scorching heat to tour the adjacent ruins of Al-Baleed. It was instructive to see many examples of ancient ship building techniques, including some boats that were sewn together, and learn about how local products can be used to construct ships. Who knew that rope made out of coconut could be so strong? For lunch we visited a local restaurant that makes an unbelievable variety of fruit juices. For many, it was a chance to enjoy avocado juice for the first time and people were not disappointed.

Finally, in the afternoon, we headed east to explore Bountiful candidate #2: Khor Rori. Anciently Khor Rori was an important port in the frankincense trade, and ruins continue to be excavated in the area. With a sizeable lagoon and cliffs jutting into the ocean, this is one of only two plausible locations for Nephi’s bountiful. On the way back to the hotel it was time for a final detour to spend time with some camel farmers. We didn’t let the pungent smell deter us as we enjoyed time up close with the camels. Most people even took advantage of the unique opportunity to sample fresh camel’s milk—still frothy and warm.

Flying to Salalah

Bountiful site #1: Mughsayl
Ships at Al-Baleed
Ruins at Al-Baleed
Enjoying lunch like a local
Fresh juices
Ship sewn together
Khor Rori
Bountiful site #2: Khor Rori
At Khor Rori
Ruins at Khor Rori
Feeding camels
The camel farm

Trying fresh camel milk
Frankincense souk