Yemeni Desert and Central Highlands
A journey across the Yemeni Desert and Central Highlands was a great adventure in February 2008. Start early morning from Aden our destination was Sanaa the capital of Yemen. The distance between Aden and Sanaa is around 450 km. But there is also another much longer way is possible. However, we chose for us the shortest route to Sanaa.
So far, according to our navigation system, our journey will take nine hours. Even if Sanaa is our destination we are anxious for the desert and special for the highland. Because we know that this tour is a really unique and great experience.
From Aden, the first one hundred kilometres are easy to drive. Almost passing the desert and follow the main road is not so exciting. Only some vegetation mostly date palm and some houses beside the road.
But then, the first mountains appear in front of us. We left the desert and the landscape changed dramatically. From now on we will only drive in the mountains what also called the Yemeni Highlands until Sanaa. It is amazing how fast we climb the mountains from the sea level above the clouds.
Above the clouds
It is still early in the morning so the clouds have not yet vanished. In the valleys hang the clouds and it looks like from the aeroplane. The sun has not yet risen too much in the sky. Impressive is the sunlight with the long shadows of the peaks and the colours in the morning. The area is craggy, cleft and exceptionally dry and dusty.
The altitude of some of the peaks is more than 2000 m up to 3000 m. in the highlands. During the daytime, the sun is bright and strong and the temperature is pleasant. However, in the night the temperature can drop below the freezing point. Most of the landscape we pass is rocky dusty and dry.
The journey across the Yemeni Desert & Central Highlands is an exceptional trip. The towns and villages we pass turn us back in history. The simple life of the Yemeni and the fascinating landscape shift us in another time.
The Highlands has a spectacular landscape of lava rocks and sandstones. We pass extinct volcano cones and sand dunes. The landscape reminds us of pictures of the moon. We feel we are on the moon but we are still on earth indeed. We are so much fascinated by the scenery. Some trees but mostly oleander and weed are the only vegetation we find in the landscape.
The land of skyscrapers
Obviously, in this rough climate and unpleasant environment, there are settlements. The villages build up in typical Yemeni skyscraper architecture.
We see many skyscrapers are still in use but we also see many they already abandon. They are contemporary witnesses of an ancient culture. Even with low or no rain in some of the valleys is lush green. On the steep mountain slopes, we see terraced agriculture.
We know that most of the farmland is in use for cultivating Khat. But also coffee shrubs, vegetables, olive trees and date palms cultivate in the valleys. Mainly groundwater supports the terraced agriculture. Where is water, there is life. Without doubts, this statement is really true.
Shortly before we arrive in Sanna we cross the Nail Yislah Pass. The pass is 2770 m. and from here we drive only downhill all the way to Sanaa. It’s the highest point we pass on our journey from the desert in Aden to the Central Highlands around Sanaa.
Finally, it takes us around ten and a half hour until arrival Sanna the capital of Yemen.