“There can’t be many places left in the world that could make God smile, but Yemen is one of them….” So starts the LonelyPlanet.com entry on Yemen. Do the Lonely Planet travel writers love Yemen? You bet: “To travel in this most traditional of Islamic countries, surrounded by a people whom the Prophet once described as as the most gentle-hearted of men,” they continue, “is a privilege you will not quickly forget.” Yemen is not a standard
tourist destination, which both means there is little infrastructure in place to accommodate a foreign visitor and there’s also not an onslaught of visitors from the outside to poke, prod and over-photograph any of its most interesting destinations. If you do go to Yemen, gushes Lonely Planet, you’ll find “a little of everything,” such as:
— San’a, the capital, the world’s oldest city, which is still mysterious yet welcoming after all these years. [Watch this video, which makes San’a seem pretty darned funky.]
— Suqutra (Socotra) Island, “the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean,” which is said to a place in which you can find the secret of life. [Look at these incredible photos of Socotra’s unbelievable flowers and plants.]
— Shaharah, a fortified village that is difficult to reach but well worth the effort. [You can see for yourself in this video.]
— the Wadi Hadramawt oasis. [This video, some of which is shot by hot air balloon–seriously!–takes you through the desert on camels, so when you finally reach the oasis you understand how happy travelers were to arrive.]
— Zabid, which is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its the hottest city on earth.
If you’re curious about what kind of adventures you may have if you get yourself to Yemen, visit the Yemeni entries on the seasoned traveler Joe’s travelblog called, “Joe’s Trippin.'” Joe, who lived and worked in Aden for several months until his unwilling and
abrupt departure, will take you on a virtual tour of some of his out-of-Aden explorations. Thinking of going to the beach down of al Khokha? Don’t bother. It’s overrated.
Same with the coastal city Hodaidah. Sierra Castle, though..? That’s worth the long, hot, sweaty, uphill hike.