Travelling through southern Yemen

The road from Thumrayt into Al Mazyunah leads into the northeast desert of the Hadramawt in Yemen and my destination Seyoun, which I decided would be a great centre for visiting the Hadramawt.

The Centre of Sayoun in Yemen
The Centre of Sayoun in Yemen

Rimah some halfway on our journey was the stop for lunch that at 1,000Yemeni Riyals (roughly 2 Omani Rials), was about twice the cost of a similar rice and meat dish in Oman. Eventually, I arrived in the old town of Seyoun where I intended to stay for a few nights.

Al Muhdhar Mosque Tarim Yemen
Al Muhdhar Mosque Tarim – Hadramawt Yemen

My hotel was just off the main square where the old Palace of the Al Katheri Sultans, a confection of white plaster, dominates the town, though today it is a museum. Inside is a collection of local artefacts, including photographs by Dame Freya Stark, the British explorer who arrived in the 1930s, travelling by herself. The next day a relative of a friend in Salalah met me and we travelled together for the next few days. One stop was at Tarim with its amazing Al Midhar mosque whose mud-brick minaret towers over 40meters in the air.

Shibam Hadramawt Yemen
Shibam Hadramawt Yemen

Shibam almost as it was 500 years ago was good enough to visit twice. This is a veritable citadel of mud-brick tower houses set in the Wadi Hadramawt. Inside the town I found the Haroun al Rashid mosque that was founded in the 10th c, in one one of the numerous small piazzas throughout the town.

Visiting the Hadramawt for a week, I left for Mukalla, allowing time to explore Wadi Dawan.

Bee Hives in Wadi Dawan
Bee Hives in Wadi Dawan

Though the valley is less wealthy than the larger towns the houses here were particularly sympathetic to the landscape. In Wadi Dawan I was fortunate to meet a bee-keeper whose several dozen hives are individually locked, so valuable is honey here. When  I managed BHS in Saudi Arabia, honey from Wadi Dawan was sold by several street salesmen outside the entrance to the Al Khobar BHS store for around 600 Saudi riyals (about 160USDollars) a litre; so I was excited to find a source here.

Bugshan Palace Khaila Wadi Dawan
Bugshan Palace Khaila Wadi Dawan

Then it was up past the Bugshan Palace Khaila and onto Mukalla.

Mukalla is the main port for the Hadramawt, its whitewashed houses and narrow streets were a pleasure to wander through. My only disappointment was a very poor meal of fish, frozen rather than fresh, in a port of the Arabian Sea!

Mukalla Yemen
Mukalla Yemen

Finally, after a couple of nights in Mukalla, it took a day to drive along the coastal road (much of which was financed by Oman) before arriving into Salalah during the late evening.

Author: Tony Walsh

Tony Walsh - author and tour leader through Arabia