Hiking the Haraz

2 minute read
Nick Easen

Trekking in the Arabian Peninsula usually brings to mind images of sweltering deserts, but tucked away in Yemen’s remote Haraz Mountains is a cool and verdant high country, only known to a few discerning hikers. At its heart is the 2,960-m peak, Jabal Shibam, pictured, under which sits the 12th century hilltop village of Al Hajjarahthe country’s hiking hub. The fortified hamlet is one of the prettiest in Yemen, with numerous trails leading up the volcanic mountains and down to the Grand Canyon-like wadis (dry river valleys).

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But Al Hajjarah is only accessible by dirt road from the town of Manakha, with its old souks (markets) and narrow alleys. Located a hundred kilometers southwest of the capital, Sana’a, Manakha was once on the Spice Route to Europe. Expect to be beckoned into local tribesmen’s hillside homes to share cups of shai (black, syrupy tea). “The real Arabia is still here in the mountains. The people here are very hospitable,” says Muammer Al-Shamiry of Sana’a University, who regularly visits Al-Hajjarah. Hikes can be a few kilometers to over 100 km, and last from a few hours to a week. It’s hard to get hold of a good map, so be sure to take a local guide. www.yementourism.com

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