Through Wadi Doan/Daw’an To Al-Hajjarayn and Al-Mukalla in Yemen

Back to Seiyun for the night and the next day it was back on the road again. There is a road to Al-Mukalla from Seiyun but we drove instead through a dry canyon called Wadi Doan/Daw’an with a stop at Al-Hajjarayn, another rocky village built on a hilltop in a breathtaking setting. Al-Hajjarayn means “two villages” because the two towns are located on opposite sides of the wadi. It dates back over 1,000 years and looked every bit of its age with everything crumbling throughout it. If you have a chance to ride through Wadi Doan, you will be retracing the same route taken by Freya Stark. I had recently read the book Passionate Nomad about Freya Stark, a British travel writer. She was not only one of the first Western women to travel through Yemen and its deserts but often travelled solo into areas that few people had been, let alone a woman. This very unusual woman lived to the age of 100, devoting her life to solo travel and writing travel books.

We drove through the wadi for over five hours enjoying the visual contradictions. Lush greenery, palm trees and small villages along the watercourse with barren, desolate cliffs and rocks on either side as far as you could see. Our driver sat on the roof at times to navigate and we made occasional stops to stretch our legs.

Wadi Doan, Yemen

Al-Hajjarayn in Yemen

village in Wadi Doan, Yemen

driver on top of 4WD in Yemen

Leaving Wadi Doan behind, it was up and over a plateau and down to the Gulf of Aden, arriving in Al-Mukalla. Al-Mukalla is the capital of the Hadramaut coastal region in the southern part of Yemen and was a main trading destination between India and Africa. This important fishing port is set below the mountains fronting the Gulf of Aden. There was nothing in particular to do here but walk along the ocean front where we were mobbed by teenagers all curious about where we were from, and happy to practice their English. Just a relaxing little city…

fishing on the Gulf of Aden, Yemen

bringing in the daily catch in Yemen

selling dried fish in Yemen

Al-Mukalla on the Gulf of Aden, Yemen

…and after all the desert hardships it was pleasant just to schmooze around the swimming pool and relax…

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