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wojtekd Shibam - A travel report by Wojciech
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Shibam,  Yemen - flag Yemen -  ‘a¢ramawt
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wojtekd's travel reports

Shibam - Manhattan of the desert

  26 votes
Page: 1 2

Shibam travelogue picture
There are at least two places qualified as "must to see" when you will come to Yemen. Both of them are placed by UNESCO on the list of World Heritage. First one - Old Sana - the capital is easy to visit. The second one it is Shibam in the desert Valley of Hadhramout. Yemenia airline offers probably last expensive tickets to Sana from Frankfurt. It is definitely worth to fly there and see these marvels of Yemen... Wadi Hadhramout is also one of the most fertile areas of Yemen, brilliantly green against the starkness of the desert.

Favourite spots:
Shibam travelogue picture
By road it is long way from Sana to the Valley of Hadhramout. You have a choice to cross the desert by 4WD vehicle with an escort of armed Bedouins. Or take public transport looping around via Aden and Mukalla. Third solution is to take 120 USD direct flight to Say'un - the aministrative centre of the Valley. Say'un is a place to stay in the cheap hotel (Al Tawilla - 800 rials per night) and to visit former Sultan's Palace housing now the museum (see photo). Be prepared for the temperatures around 40 deg. Celsius during the day...

What's really great:
Shibam travelogue picture
It is only 19 km by shared taxi from Say'un to Shibam - another oasis. You will see it from the distance: in the middle of the valley town surrounded by walls. Inside there are houses like towers. They are up to 9 floors high and are built of local clay. They say there is around 500 of them. Somebody named Shibam "The Manhattan of the Desert" . I agree. I visited already more then 190 countries but I didn't see anything similar. It is unique and unusual place!

Shibam travelogue picture
Many of Shibam's skycrapers have finely engraved wooden doors with fancy wooden locks; the windows are latticed with elaborately carved wooden screens.

On the other side of dry river there is New Shibam. You can go throuh it and climb the hill for a view. It is unforgetable to be there at the sunset and to see all these clay skycrapers in red and orange colors...

Shibam travelogue picture
You can go in through the gate to see Sultan's Palace on the right. Streets are deep, narrow and pleasantly shadowed in the everpresent heat. There is plenty of souvenir shops and workshops but the people tend to be importunate - to much rich people come here to see their skycrapers. There are guesthouses in Shibam but it is much better and cheaper to stay in Say'un.

Other recommendations:
Shibam travelogue picture
Third town of the valley: Tarim is less interesting but still worth a visit. Share taxi will take you there for 120 rial per person. There is old Arab library and couple of minarets reminding Java-Indonesia in their style. The town, overshadowed by rock cliffs on one side and surrounded by palm groves on the other, is an important centre of Sunni Islamic teaching, and (they say) is home to 365 mosques.
Unfortunately Yemen has been an unsafe travel destination for at least 5 years.
You can see more pictures and maps from Yemen on my polish page:

Published on Tuesday October 8th, 2002

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Sun, Sep 05 2010 - 02:39 PM rating by esfahani

yemen will be one of my next travel destination. the report helped a lot : your picture link is broken

Sun, Jun 13 2010 - 02:18 AM rating by xolar

Thanks Wojtek.
Pozdrawiam - Andrzej

Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 10:55 PM rating by krisek

Very informative again! And again superb pictures. Many thanks

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 09:45 AM rating by miguelmarchi

another fantastic destination! another fantastic report! another fantastic traveller!

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