Remote Jebel Samhan (2100m), the mountain that towers over the eastern portion of the Salalah Plain, is more plateau than peak. The whole area is riddled with limestone caves and sinkholes, and the desolate flat top of the jebel is home to the elusive Arabian leopard. Critically endangered, this magnificent animal is protected in a vast sanctuary covering much of Jebel Samhan, which is closed to the general public. Visitors can drive, however, to the stunning 1300m-high viewpoint on the edge of the reserve, near the summit, which offers an exceptional coastal panorama.
The approach road to Jebel Samhan climbs up through a variety of different flora, including rocky fields of leafless desert roses. Sometimes known as elephant plants, they have huge bulbous trunks and beautiful pink flowers. If you’re wondering about the occasional spiky tree dotted over the plateau, they're called dragon trees and are confined to high, semi-arid elevations.