When I set out that morning on my way to Wadi Hadramawt, I was called precisely at the time agreed upon the day before. Someone asked for my name and I was greeted downstairs by a soldier who politely showed me the way to our 4WD. Travelling by 4WD instead of public transport, precluding any contact with the local population, was the price to pay for a visit to Wadi Dawan, but a price I was willing to pay. As we sped out of Al Mukallah, where even at this early time of the day the heat was getting unbearable, squeezing sweat out of our bodies like a giant juicer, I had a feeling of freedom, as if the landscapes lying ahead would all be mine.
To a certain extent, they were. Quite soon we started to climb and reached a highland with far vistas, and since it was absolutely empty and there was hardly any traffic, it sometimes seemed we were on an expedition in unexplored territory. Since the roads had been asphalted already, contrary to my expectations based on out of date travel guides, the ride was pretty smooth and we descended into Wadi Dawan. We stopped and had an amazing view over the steep mountain walls, the dry river bed below us, and colourful mud houses forming toy like villages at a distance. When we finally reached the wadi, it was like entering an oven. The narrow space between the two walls on either side of the wadi made sure there was hardly any ventilation, and the sun was burning mercilessly on everything and everyone inside.
The views were spectacular all the way, one village more beautiful than the other, and all in their own way. Some perched against the vertical walls of the wadi, others draped down from mountains in the middle. This was certainly a photographers paradise, as so many other parts of Yemen, and consequently it was a true pleasure for the eye. We took a long pause in Al Hajjarayn, presumably a pre-Islamic settlement. Despite the heat, I decided to walk around the city, to the chagrin of the soldier who had to come with me. Inside, we were finally able to see up close the ingenuity of the mud houses, their amazingly decorated wooden doors, and the quietness of it all.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Wadi Dawan (Yemen). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Wadi Dawan.
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