Expedition to the wonders of Wadi Dawan, Desert's Manhattan Shibam and traditional Madhalla shepherds


Tour to March 23 – 31, 2024
To Yemen, Oman

tour to yemen expedition to Yemen

To touch the history of Oman and immerse into authenticity and real life of mainland Yemen with its amazing architecture and one-of-a-kind nature of Wadi Dawan, superb and empty beaches of sea cost, as well as sandy desert of Qishn and deep traditions of Madhalla shepherds.

We head to the historic Land of Frankincense, explore iconic "Desert's Manhattan" Shibam, get into acquaintance with unique Hadhramaut settlements and constructions, stroll across the sand dunes and share a cup of tea with traditional cattle herders.

Dates: March 23 – 31, 2024

Duration: 9 days / 8 nights

Number of participants: 7 – 12

Cost of participation per person:
– 3 290 USD subject to 10 – 12 participants,
– 3 650 USD subject to 7 – 9 participants.

Everything is included (also visa of Yemen and full board meals), except for:
– international flight to Seyun (Yemen) and return flight from Salalah (Oman),
– international medical insurance.
– Oman visa (not required for Russian citizen for up to 14 days)

Estimated cost of flight Moscow – Cairo – Seiyun one way: USD 750 – 900 (We can buy for you airticket from Cairo to Seiyun with Yemenia Airlines at some 560 USD. The cost may change).

Estimated cost of flight Salalah – Moscow one way: USD 400 – 650 (Usually bought on your own, we consult you).

Single supplement: 560 USD (single accommodation is provided for all nights).

TRAVEL PROGRAM: tour to Yemen and Oman

Day 1. March 23, 2024 (Saturday). SEIYUN (YEMEN)

Arrival in Cairo airport early in the morning (not later than at 6 am).
Connection flight with Yemenia airlines to Seiyun from terminal 1 of Cairo airport (you can also go transit, even using 2 different tickets and most probably changing the terminal).
Departure time at 9:30 am (it may be changed for 10:45 am). Lunch is on the flight.
At 15:15 arrival from Cairo in Seiyun, Hadhramaut region of Yemen.
Visit the center of Seiyun city to see amazing Al Kathiri palace, once the home of the sultan and currently a museum, which documents the Hadhramaut region's history from antiquity until the first film cameras were around. This palace is considered the world's biggest adobe palace.
From the palace, continue to Seiyun's farmers' market to wander and also roam the streets of old city with traditional architecture, men playing traditional table games in the yards and gun shops. Very special Yemeni atmosphere that we can immerse immediately.
Dinner and stay overnight at the Al Ahqaf Hotel, the most beautiful hotel in Seiyun.

Accommodation included: Al Ahqaf Hotel in Seiyun
Meals included: dinner

* Recommended flight to Cairo:
any flight arriving in Cairo (CAI airport only!) no later than at 6 am on March 23.

** Recommended flight from Cairo to Seiyun:
direct flight with Yemenia airlines, departing from Cairo (CAI airport, terminal 1) at 9:30 am on March 23, arriving in Seiyun after 15:00.

Day 2. March 24, 2024 (Sunday). SEIYUN – TARIM – AYNAT – SHIBAM – SEIYUN

After breakfast, we find ourselves in the city center of Seyun for short walk along the streets and visiting at times crowded honey bazaar.
Short drive (40 km) to the historical city of Tarim. Tarim is famed throughout the region as a Sufi Islamic center of education. We can walk around Tarim's relatively well-preserved old town and souq, visiting Asia palace and beautiful Minaret Al-Mihdhar – again the world's highest adobe minaret.
Proceed to Aynat town (20 km) to visit the tombs and shrines of the region's great Sufi saints.
After that, we drive back westward (70 km), where we will explore iconic town of Shibam – Manhattan of the desert – unique place of the Hadhramaut Valley recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1982. We take a walk in the maze of the old streets of Shibam, where most of the houses were built in 16th century while Shibam has been in existence for an estimated 1700 years.
Before sunset we hike (15 min) to the observation desk with an iconic view to the whole city of Shibam. Photography at sunset.
Back to Seyun. Stay overnight in Seiyun at Al Ahqaf Hotel.

Accommodation included: Al Ahqaf Hotel in Seiyun
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner


After breakfast, we come back to Shibam (20 km), as this place definitely deserves to be explored in more details. We take morning photography in the city with locals on the streets, visit the antique shops to buy jambiya or some old stuff and visit one of the traditional houses to admire the unique architecture.
Shibam is often called "the oldest skyscraper city in the world". It is one of the oldest and best examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction. The city has some of the tallest mud buildings in the world, with some of them over 30 meter high. In order to protect the buildings from rain and erosion, the walls must be routinely maintained by applying fresh layers of mud. The city is surrounded by a fortified wall, giving it the name "the walled city of Shibam". The houses of Shibam are all made out of mudbrick, and about 500 of them are tower blocks, which rise 5 to 11 stories high, with each floor having one or two rooms. This architectural style was used in order to protect residents from Bedouin attacks.
Today we head out by road for the fabled Wadi Dawan (otherwise known as the Do'an or Dawan Valley). This historic region is the cultural center of the Hadhrami people. Steep canyon walls give way to a narrow, branching semi-fertile valley called Do'an. A deeply conservative yet culturally distinct civilization formed within this valley and continues with its traditions today. Mud brick towns cling to where the canyon walls meet the ground, while the center is reserved for farm and grazing land. Almost no structures exist on the top of the canyon — nearly all life, save for a few Bedouins, live at the bottom, some 300 meters below the natural canyon walls.
On the way we will stop at on the most important Sufi religious places to see the tomb and listen to the story.
Then we visit Hajarayn town, where we can meet beekeepers and learn about cedar honey, one of the most expensive high-grade honey in the world and having indeed a fantastic taste.
Lunch in Madhoon (or another village en route) and take the picturesque upper road to our resort. We may stop for a minute for quick photo in the villages Al Jadidah and Subaykh.
Arrive well before sunset and spend the evening at the Haed Al Jazeel Resort, perched up on the top of the canyon walls with an incredible view of dramatic canyon landscapes, diminutive mud-brick villages, and farmland down below.

Accommodation included: Haed Al Jazeel resort
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner


Sunrise at the Haed Al Jazeel Resort, overlooking the smashing villages of Wadi Do'an, with the deep canyon and oasis and the Haed Al Jazeel village on the big rock appearing one of the most beautiful views in the world.
After breakfast, morning trek from the starting point (nor far from the resort) down to the old village of Hawf. One day salt caravans were taking the same way.
Visit the Hawf village, sharing tea in one of the local houses, and meeting Madhalla shepherds down in the valley (and trying to take photos of them).
We proceed down to the valley. As we continue to wind our way down Do'an, the valley becomes increasingly narrow and finally the road cuts with the view on the same iconic Haed Al Jazeel village perched on the huge boulder, but from beneath.
Drive back 10 minutes to Buqshan to see the multicolor palaces, one say built as hotels by the family of Bin Laden, but were abandoned. We can walk around and inside of a colorful Hadhrami mansion, and take a look from the roof of one of the buildings.
15 minutes drive to another beautiful village of Qarn Majid to see the house almost hanging on the edge of the rock – very special feature of Hadhramaut architecture!
Return for sunset at Haed Al Jazeel Resort, not forgetting that the best pictures from this spot are 15 minutes after sunset when all cliffs and the sky flames with the sunset fire!
Enjoy a traditional local Hadhramaut music performance during dinner at the hotel.

Accommodation included: Haed Al Jazeel Resort
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5. March 27, 2024 (Wednesday). HAED AL JAZEEL RESORT – SEIF – WADI AL AIN

After breakfast and swim in the infinity pool with the view to amazing valley, we check-out and leaving from Haed Al Jazeel.
We visit the village of Seif in Wadi Do'an, to tour the remarkable "white palace" over the village. Seif is another traditional Hadhramaut village with adobe architecture and great details used for adornment.
We drive further 60 km along the Wadi Al Ain, another valley which spreads from biggest Wadi Hadhramaut in the north until the Arabian sea in the south.
Explore Wadi Al Ain and its remarkable residents – Madhalla female shepherds.
The madhalla is a traditional hat used in the region Hadhramout, in Yemen and worn by women. The hats have a wide circular brim and a peaked top. The straw hats are peaked to keep the wearer cool in hot temperatures. Being almost two feet tall, the design promotes air circulation within the hat. They have been noted to resemble witch hats. They are often worn by female shepherds and field workers who also wear black abayas.
The shepherds themselves are often called Madhalla. Madhalla are very conservative and normally not open for photography.
We will stay in camping in our tents nearby Madhalla shepherds' settlement to have more chances for evening and morning photography, trying to get iconic photos.

Accommodation included: tents in camping
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6. March 28, 2024 (Thursday). WADI AL AIN – AL MUKALLA

Early in the morning, after sunrise photography and breakfast, farewell from Madhalla and start driving to the south, to Al Mukalla (220 km). It may take some 5 hours, including check points.
On the way we drop-off our stuff in the hotel Ramada, located on the beach of Arabian Sea. Swim in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Arabian Sea or proceed directly to the city of Al Mukalla, the capital of Hadhramaut, the port city with beautiful colonial streets.
Visit the quay and old city of Al Mukalla, drinking some tea on the main square and doing some photography of open minded local people on the colonial streets.
Stay at hotel Ramada – the finest hotel in Al Mukalla. Dinner in the hotel.

Accommodation included: hotel Ramada Al Mukalla (Holiday Inn)
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner


After early breakfast, visit the fish market of Al Mukalla.
Today we drive some 350 km eastward, along the coast of Arabian Sea.
On the way we stop for leisure and lunch at Ras Sharmah beach – the most beautiful coastal area on the Arabian Sea. We have time for sunbath and swimming in the sea.
Another stop is in Sayhut to visit the palace of Sultan bin Afrir.
Proceed to the desert of Qishn (in between Qishn and Al Ghaidah towns).
Here, among the sand dunes, we stay overnight in camping. It promises to be a unique and adventurous experience.

Accommodation included: tents in camping
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner


Wake up under the stars of the desert. After breakfast, we will roam in the dunes, taking some photography of camels. Interact with local people.
Today we drive some 450 km along the coast in two countries. It's a long drive that may take up to 7-8 hours, including check points.
Visit Al Ghaidah and have lunch.
Drive along the spectacular Mehri coast, stopping along the way for photos and visit in Hawf. We arrange the visit to the awe-inspiring Hawf Reserve, which is known for its breathtaking natural beauty.
On the way we will stop at the fishermen's site before making our way to Oman. Time to swim in the Arabian sea.
Cross the border with Oman in Sarfeet, southern part of the country.
After crossing the border, it will take us 2 more hours to reach the city of Salalah.
Arrival in Salalah (Oman), check-in at Intercity hotel. Dinner and overnight in Salalah.

Accommodation included: Intercity Hotel in Salalah
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9. March 31, 2024 (Sunday). SALALAH (OMAN) – RETURN FLIGHT

After breakfast, at 8 am, we start our program in Oman.
We drive 35 km to coastal town of Taqah, to visit nice Taqah Castle. We will also stop by Wadi Darbat famous for its low lying waterfall. However, it is in full force during the rainy season from July to September, and in winter and spring it is usually dry.
Drive back to Salalah, to visit Sultan Qaboos Mosque and the Museum of the Land of Frankincense. This famous museum based on frankincense, in association with the Al-Baleed Archaeological Park, was acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. This place, the Land of Frankincense, has always been on the Incense trade route. The site includes frankincense trees, Khor Rori and the remains of a caravan oasis, which were crucial to the medieval incense trade.
Drive 45 km eastward to Mughsail beach to relax and have fun in the sea.
Transfer back to Salalah directly to the airport in order to arrive in the airport at 20:00 at the latest.

Accommodation included: no
Meals included: breakfast, lunch

Recommended return flights from Salalah:
– any flight, departing from Salalah (Oman) no earlier than at 23:00 am on March 31.

* The order of visits and excursions can be modified according to local conditions, i.e. state of roads, security situation, etc. If some visits and/or tours could not be done due to external conditions, they will be replaced when possible.

** The participant of expedition to Yemen must be motivated to be respectful to the local culture, be aware of the objectives of the expedition and possible program changes, as well as be able to adapt to the new environment and culture.

Cost includes:

• Visa of Yemen at the border
• Accommodation in hotels as per the program in TWIN / DBL rooms
• Accommodation in tents based on SINGLE (or DBL for couples)
• Camping equipment: tents, sleeping mats
• Full board meals throughout the whole trip: breakfasts, lunches and dinners
• Drinking water and soft drinks throughout the whole trip
• Pick up transfer from inside the airport and returning to airport
• All transportation according to the itinerary by 4WD cars (Land Cruiser or similar), with working air conditioner and experienced drivers
• Security guards and security support letter
• All sightseeing as outlined in itinerary, entry fees
• All permits,
• Local guides and trekking guides when required
• English speaking local guide throughout all trip
• Russian- and English speaking team leader throughout all itinerary

Cost excludes (to be additionally paid):

• International flight to Seiyun (Yemen) and return flight back from Salalah (Oman)
• Oman visa (not required for Russian citizen for up to 14 days)
• International medical insurance
• Tips for local team
• Personal expenses
• Single supplement

To take with:

• long sleeve wear set, wear set for hot weather
• very light jacket for cool nights
• comfortable trekking or running footwear, light footwear (sneakers or slippers)
• swimwear
• raincoat
• cap/hat
• forehead torch
• scarf for women for visiting Mosques and Shrines
• big backpack/bag for luggage (some 80 liters capacity), or travel bag, or suitcase is also suitable
• small backpack for radial walks for personal stuff and photo-, video cameras (20-25 l)
• sleeping bag for +12/+15 degrees weather
• anti mosquito repellents
• sunblock cream
• sunglasses
• personal hygiene items
• personal medical kit (analgesics, antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, intestinal, multivitamins, rehydration, court plaster, your personal medications)
• test result for HIV and test result for hepatitis A is mandatory for Yemeni visa, in English language
• no special COVID requirement exist (requirement may be changed)
• photo and video camera,
• tripod and flash light
• batteries and power bank

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