Yemen Tour: Unveiling the Ancient Wonders Penguin Travel (2024)

In the heart of the Arabian Peninsula lies a land of ancient cities, remote villages, and coastal treasures waiting to be discovered. Join us on a journey to Yemen, where ancient secrets whisper through the winding streets, where every corner reveals a new chapter in history, and where the warmth of hospitality is as enchanting as the Arabian Nights tales. Immerse yourself in a land that inspires stories of adventure and magic, where the rich culture and timeless architecture create an unforgettable experience. Our journey includes a visit to Shibam, the "Manhattan of the Desert," where mud-brick skyscrapers stand as silent witnesses to centuries of history. We will also explore the picturesque Wadi Dawan Valley and its traditional villages and delve into the spiritual heritage of Tarim. This tour takes place entirely in the Hadramaut region, a safe area for tourists to visit.

♦ Shibam - a 16th-century town famous for its mud brick tower houses, included in the UNESCO World Heritage site.
♦ Wadi Dawan - a scenic valley known for its extensive palm gardens.
♦ Tarim- an important pilgrimage site for Sufis
♦ Al-Mukalla - a vibrant port city, capital of the Hadramaut governorate


Day 1. Arrival in Cairo. Flight Cairo-Seyun.
The group meets this morning at the airport in Cairo to catch a flight to Seiyun, one of the biggest cities in the Hadhramaut region. To ensure a smooth start to our journey, it's recommended to arrive very early in the morning or, ideally, the previous night in Cairo. After arriving in Seiyun, we will check in at the hotel and head out to explore the city. We will visit the Seiyun Palace, also known as the Sultan Al Kathiri Palace, one of the highest mud-brick structures in the world. The palace was built in the 1920s, and it stands as a testament to the grandeur of the Kathrini dynasty, which ruled the region for an extended part of its history. The building's design reflects a blend of traditional Yemeni architectural elements and Islamic artistry, with influences from Indian and Southeast Asian styles, due to the historical trade connections between Hadhramaut and those regions. We will then explore the old town and wander around the Al-Handal Souk. Seiyun’s markets are a sensory overload in the best possible way. Spices you’ve only seen in cooking shows? They’re here, piled high in vibrant sacks. Street vendors offer delicious meals like honey-drenched pastries and aromatic cardamom-spiced cakes. Here we will buy traditional Yemeni clothes, which we will need to wear during the rest of the trip. After collecting so many first impressions of Yemen, we will return to the hotel to spend the night. –/-/-

Day 2. Seiyun - Qabr Hud - Tarim
This morning, we are heading east and will drive through the scenic valley until we reach our first destination of the day - the village of Qabr Hud, one of Yemen's most revered religious and historical sites. The village is believed to be the final resting place of Prophet Hud, who is mentioned in the Quran as a messenger sent to the ancient tribe of 'Ad. Every year, during the Islamic month of Sha'ban (the month before Ramadan), thousands of pilgrims flock to Qabr Hud to participate in an annual pilgrimage. The tomb is located in a small mosque in the village, set amidst dramatic landscapes of mountains and valleys. Afterward, we will continue driving to the town of Tarim, where we will spend the night. The city has long been a hub of religious scholarship and Sufism, extending its influence beyond its geographical boundaries. The town is renowned for its numerous mosques, madrasas, and libraries, many of which have been active for centuries. Among these, the Al-Muhdar Mosque stands out with its striking white minaret, one of the tallest in Yemen, soaring 50 meters into the sky. Tarim is also particularly noted for its palaces adorned with intricate geometric patterns and delicate wooden latticework known as "mashrabiya." Most of these houses belonged to wealthy merchant families who made their fortunes in trade. After wandering around the city and its market, we will arrive at our hotel in the evening. B/-/-

Day 3. Tarim - Shibam - Seiyun
Today, we are going to explore the city of Shibam, the main tourist attraction in the region. Shibam is often called "the Manhattan of the Desert" because of its distinctive and remarkable skyline. The city is characterized by its ancient mud-brick high-rise buildings. Similar to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the high-rise buildings of Shibam are designed to make the most of limited space. Some of these buildings date back to the 16th century, making them some of the oldest examples of vertical urban planning in the world. Despite being made of mud bricks, Shibam's buildings have proven remarkably durable over the centuries. UNESCO recognized this heritage and designated Shibam as a World Heritage Site in 1982, solidifying its reputation as a city of historical and architectural importance. The residents of Shibam continue to maintain and replaster these structures regularly to preserve their integrity and ensure they remain habitable. In the evening, we will return to Seiyun to spend the night.ated to exploring the city of Shiban, the region's main tourist attraction. Shibam is often referred to as "the Manhattan of the Desert" due to its distinctive and remarkable skyline, characterized by its ancient mud-brick high-rise buildings. Much like the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the high-rise buildings of Shibam are designed to maximize limited space. Some of these buildings date back to the 16th century, making them some of the world's oldest examples of vertical urban planning. Despite being made of mud bricks, Shibam's buildings have proven remarkably durable over the centuries. This heritage has been recognized by UNESCO, which designated Shibam as a World Heritage Site in 1982, further solidifying its reputation as a city of historical and architectural importance. The residents of Shibam continue to maintain and replaster these structures regularly, preserving their integrity and ensuring they remain habitable. In the evening, we will return to Seiyun to spend the night. B/-/-

Day 4. Seiyun - Wadi Dawan Valley (the villages of Saif, Beit Bukshan, Khaylla, Haed Al Jazeel)
Today, we will explore the Wadi Dawan Valley, well-known for its extensive date palm gardens and small villages with mud-brick houses. We will visit some of these villages that offer a glimpse into the region's architectural heritage, agricultural practices, and vibrant community life. The villages are known for their close-knit communities, where residents maintain a lifestyle that has remained unchanged for centuries. Agriculture plays a central role in daily life, with families cultivating date palms, grains, and vegetables. Beit Bukshan stands out for its vibrant and colorful architecture, which adds a lively charm to the otherwise earthy tones of the region. Haid Al-Jazeel is the most visually striking of the villages, perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley. We will spend the night in a nearby hotel, enjoying the region's tranquility and the dramatic landscapes. B/-/-

Day 5. Wadi Dawan - Al-Mukalla
Today, we are heading to Hadramaut governorate's capital, the vibrant port city of Al-Mukalla. Al-Mukalla was founded in 1035 AD as a small fishing village. Over the centuries, it grew into an important trading port due to its strategic location along the Arabian Sea. The city's history is marked by its role in maritime trade, linking Yemen with East Africa, India, and the broader Arabian Peninsula. This rich history is reflected in its architecture, culture, and economic activities. We will explore the narrow, winding streets and traditional houses of the old city, take a walk along the scenic waterfront, and visit thehistoric Sultan Al-Qu'aiti Palace . Al-Mukalla has faced significant challenges, including periods of control by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) from 2015 to 2016. In April 2016, local forces, supported by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, successfully recaptured Al-Mukalla from AQAP, restoring control and beginning the process of rebuilding and recovery. We will spend the night in a hotel in the city.B/-/-

Day 6. Al Mualla - Tarim
Today we are heading back to Tarim. We will make a few short stops alog th way to enjoy the beautiul scenery and arrive in the city in the afternoon. Free time and overnight in Trim.B/-/-

Day 7. Tarim - Shehn
Today we have a long day of driving east towards the border with Oman. We will spend our last night in Yemen in the border city of Shehn in theAl-Mahrah Governorate. The town is situated in aremote area, marked by arid desert landscapes and rocky terrain.The people here lead a traditional lifestyle, heavily influenced by their environment and the harsh desert conditions.Given its proximity to the Omani border, Shehn has historically been a point of trade and interaction between Yemen and Oman. B/-/-

Day 8. Shehn-Salalah,Oman. End of services
Today, we will cross the border into Oman. The border crossing procedure is usually relatively fast and hassle-free, but keep in mind that on occasion, it might take a few hours. We will drive to the coastal city of Salalah, where our tour officialy comes to an end. Free time in the city and departure on own arrangement. B/-/-

Practical information:

  • On this tour, you will explore Hadramaut, the only region accessible to tourists in Yemen as of 2024.
  • After your booking is confirmed, we will apply for a tourist visa and security clearance on your behalf.To apply, you need to provide us a copy of your passport and a few other documents. The required documents may vary, so they will be confirmed by email when your booking is finalized.
  • Both men and women must wear traditional Yemeni clothing during the trip. Women must wear abaya, hijab and niqab in certain places. You can buy these types of clothes on the first day of the tour.
  • Women might not be allowed to enter some of the religious sites on this itinerary.Our local partners will attempt to negotiate this, but we ask for your understanding and respect if this occurs.
  • When traveling between cities, you will encounter multiple checkpoints. Typically, the process is fast and hassle-free, but on occasion, it may take a few hours.
  • This tour is not recommended for people with mobility issues.
  • Please note that during your trip, there may be differences compared to the description above. While we strive to adhere to the planned schedule, we might need to make adjustments before or during the trip due to unexpected circ*mstances and other factors to ensure your safety and the best possible experience.
  • You can read more helpful pre-departure information in the file below:

Practical / Predeparture Information

Price Includes:
all ground transportation during the program
flight tickets Cairo - Seiyun
letter of invitation for a visa
accommodation in midrange local hotels in ensuite rooms
local English-speaking guides
a tour leader from Penguin Travel (at min.8 people)
all meals according to the itinerary (B-breakfast,L-lunch,D-dinner)
entry fees for the sites mentioned in the itinerary

Not Included:
international flight ticket
transfer to the airport in Cairo
transfer to the airport in Salalah
visa fee
drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
tips and personal expenses


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Yemen Tour: Unveiling the Ancient Wonders Penguin Travel (2024)
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