27 January, 2015

Spectacular Highlands, Valleys and Canyons of Hadhramout

The Highlands of Hadhramaut are spectacular and breathtaking: valleys, canyons, cliffs and an amazing array of hills and plateaus -- barren and very barely inhabited. A few kilometers from the coast, the highlands begin -- stretching from the East and Mahra, all the way to Shabwa and the West. I took these photos early in the morning.

It's here, under these highlands, that most of Hadhramout's oil wealth lies; and is extracted.

Note the crater like features. Some of the features and colors on these highlands, remind one of pictures of Mars and the Moon.

The valleys, cliffs and canyons are truly spectacular from above. It has taken thousands of years of seasonal rains, floods and wind to shape these.

Amazingly, although very threatened now by human encroachment -- many forms of wildlife exist here. Most notable, the hamadryas baboon 

An endless stretch of barren, empty, desert space. Incredibly, under these barren place, lies much fresh water.

The few Bedouins who manage to live here, do so in the valleys. 

There main, and most of the time -- only, source of water is from rain.

Here, is a village. Breathtaking and Arabian. In most of these tiny villages -- live the same members of a family. 

The more extended the family is, the larger the village is. Note the date palms, along the valley. Dates and camels - the two essentials for Prophets, Arabs and all indigenous people of the Middle East deserts. Without dates and camels -- where would Arabia be?

Flat-topped cliffs that drop vertically to the level wadi bottoms.

With a surface that is either bare or covered in rock debris and minimal vegetation -- the runoff from rain, is extremely rapid,

Rain falls heavily on these highlands  mainly during March-April and in June-September; resulting in the valleys below to get flooded.

These rainfall events can be very good for agriculture, but often the population in the valleys below do not know when it has rained heavily up on the Plateau. Villagers, living down below plateaus (like in this small village below) -- celebrate when it rains.

But, too, when the water comes gushing down, many are caught unaware. At times the floods can cause enormous devastation to crops and buildings and many loose their lives. From so high up, I wonder: it must be extremely difficult and hard living in these barren plateaus and valleys; at the same time, it must be extremely peaceful being in such a place with only the minimum of basics and necessities available.