Near to Sana'a, Wadi Dhar has most local species of inland birds, except vultures; but particularly interesting is the mule track from Shibam up to Kawkaban. This 45 minute walk rises nearly 923 m , with Tristrams Grackle, larks, wheatears and doves in abundance at the bottom, eagles, ravens and vultures at the top.
There is also a good variety of flowering plants where water trickles through cracks in the rock. The high plateau from Kawkaban, west to Wadi Hajjar, has some hyaena.
The road from Amran to Hajjar is a spectacular series of twisting bends dropping steeply through dark, sombre mountains, down from high altitude to tropical wadi and up again, with such a variety of terrain there is life of all types.
Here, in the village of Suq al-Wadi, stands a famous rock palace. Its commanding position and evidence of an ancient well suggest that the site has been used as a lookout post for centuries. It is a classic example of Yemeni architecture and was built in 1786 by Imam Mansour Ali Bin Mahdi Abbas; in the 1930s Imam Yahya Hamid Al Din extended it as a summer residence.
Today, the palace is an open museum of sorts, and a very popular place to visit, not only for tourists but also for local Yemeni families. Different rooms have descriptive labels in English and Arabic. Nearby is the village of Qaryat al- Qabil, with its walled pathways, orchards and vineyards. Here on Fridays from 09.00 – 12.00 Yemenis gather for wedding celebrations.
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