|From the north, I now start
exploring the south.
9. I head into the mountains north of Taqah. They are quite fertile, although a bit dry by now. That does not prevent the locals from having a lot of cows. I see a huge and rather fat Adenium arabicum, and that is one of my primarily targets. While I look for more in the cows' rather bushy fields, I find many other interesting plants. Here are some purple-flowering Solanaceae with yellow fruits; Solanum incanum, Acacias, small herbs, Commiphoras, Lamiaceaes, Cissus quadrangularis some with leaves on and many more.
My waypoint this morning is the huge sinkhole of Tawi Attair. As expected, the entire area is real interesting. Not only because of the flora; here are so many birds as well. The Commiphoras here are up to five metres tall, but the Cissus quadrangularis can reach the top. They have some parasitic plants on them - unknown species.
I do a long walk in the area, formed by ancient limestone and partly covered with gravel. I find a Jatropha, which must be the local Jatropha dhofarica. Another numerous plant is the flowering Calotropis procea. It is strange how some plants are in full growth and flowering, while other species are completely dormant.
I have passed some huge fig trees, and I think is actually are Ficus vasta.
I keep finding more and more Adenium arabicum, one more fat than the previous. Some are flowering, and there are quite some different in their colours. A few of the have fresh fruits, some are spreading their seeds.
Despite the birds; starlings, bee-eaters, quarrels, finches, stone-pickers, falcons, eagle and others, I see only a few insects. Different grasshoppers and a few flies and beetles. Here are a few small lizards too.
A few Cucumis prophetarum have their prickly fruits.
I head further up the road, into the high plateau. It
turns significantly dryer, and the
Adenium arabicum get even fatter. Here, they are round like a ball.
I find a few Asclepiadaceae: Desmidorchis tardellii, but none
As I reach the edge of the plateau, the rocks turn black
by lichen, and only a few plants, mainly annuals, are found here. The
farmers have build many enclosures in rocks, and the grassing must be good
in a limited period.
After a long walk, I return to the car, and engulf a box
of chocolate bisques and a lot of water. Then I find a gravel road, leading
in to the high interior. Her are not the expected
Dracaena serrulata at all, but the wadis reveals some other
interesting plants. One is the minute Euphorbia hadramautica. I also
find a few Aloe dhufarensis.
I end up at the perfect sandy beach in Salalah, just to
drive a few more metres to their suq. Here are, to my big surprise;
tourists. I hear American, French and German. While they keep their
distance, the shopkeepers are eager to get selfies with me. That give me a
great opportunity to get
photos of them, although most are foreigners. I get
my weekly shave, and an additionally massage and haircut.
10. In an effort to find the perfect
Dracaena serrulata - and because I don't seem to find records of
where to look for it - I head towards Yemen. It is kind of the
although it only touches the coast a few places..
On the next hill, a new vine is flowering, and it have a
Shining Sunbird; Cinnyris habessinicus visiting. I can't get to the
plant, but I hope to find it later. It appears to have some rather large and
fruits. Besides from a few new herbs, I find nothing interesting.
I reach some boats on the beach, and next to them; a
flock of mixed seagulls. Again, I realises; A proper camera with a 500mm
lens would occasionally be nice! A bit further on, some Ipomoea
pes-caprae are flowering. Next stop is at the cave of Marneef.
As the road enters
the heights again, the vegetation
vanish. Only the ravines have something interesting. The wind is rather
harsh, and I feel a bit like a kite: Long, thing arms and legs in
combination with vide clothing. Never the less, I fight the best I can, and
make some documentation photo of the new herbs and alike.
The road goes into a huge gorge, and that causes for
several photos and some walking. More and more Euphorbia cactus are
found, and then some
Dracaena serrulata. They sit too high for me to walk, and I hope to
find more later.
I reach the beach, and again, I am baffled about how
perfect it look. I have it all to my self - except from some camels. I try
to capture the colour of the sea and the limestone wall behind it. Then I
find some new plants in this relatively moist area: A fern. I spend a lot of
time in the area, but I still have a long way to the Yemen border.
I head a bit inland, and up to the highland. Here, the
military have a check-point. The office at the hotel were closed this
morning, and I figured I could do without my passport, as I'm not actually
going to cross the border to Yemen. Well, these soldiers would have like to
see it, but a big smile and an even bigger moustache does the trick. I hope
the same will apply on the way back!
A bit further down the road, I finally find some tea. Then there is yet another military control, and I get through. The landscape soon start to drop, and the upper areas look like the African bush savannah, with the scatted Acacias. Euphorbia balsamifera become the dominating plant a while, then the road drops drastically, and the vegetation changes again, and here are almost green!. The views are so fantastic - and useless in pictures. It is too green for me, and I drive straight to the border. The Omani side let me through with car, just no pictures! Sure, I never make any... I turn around a bit inside Yemen, bust before they ask for the passport I don't have.
The sun is getting low, and I better drive back. I just have to make photo stops. At the edge of the
mountain, the trees are covered in mosses.
11. The plan is simple; find somewhere dull to
explore. That way, the work with photos and diary will be so much easier in the
evening - and I need that. It is not the driving or hours of walking that
wears me down, it is the computer work afterwards - and the lack of sleep.
The first part up to the highland is real fertile - at
least in the rainy season. Here are still a lot of yellow grass between the
bushes. I make a few stops, but here are no new plants.
I reach a military check-point, but the cheerful guys
(all of them) just want to say hi, and I'm free to drive on. They have sat
up shop in the first major riverbed, which I would have loved to explore,
but despite the smiles; no photo.
Well, I probably pass that dried river again.
And yes; I do. Here are some
Acacias and a lot of Sodom's apple milkweed Calotropis procera.
Somehow, they do quite fine where nothing else, not even Acacias will grow.
Here, they get a lot of cork on their stems.
reach a tiny town where the road forks out. The
mug is filled with hot tea, but they don't serve food - they claim. The
soldiers get hamburgers - or sort of: A bun get "Smiling Cow"-cheese on, and a small
bag of Omani potatoes chips, chilly flavoured, is crushed, and sprayed over.
Packed in paper and heated in the micro oven. I'll pass.
The area changes - still bone dry, but the limestone and
ancient coral reef have gone into marble; pink marble! They form a slightly
different rock, and I have a walk around. Then it flattens out again, and
only the man-made holes have plants. Mirages imitates huge lakes in the
horizon, but I never reach them!
I turn around at the border control - this time at the
Omani! On the way back, I see some migrating eagles, sitting in the desert.
At the village at the road-fork, I turn south at a gravel road to meet the
coastal route. The landscape seems flat, but numerous huge canyons are found
on both sides of the road.
Despite the area is almost completely barren, here are a
few settlements. Just a few brick houses and tent-like sheets. I have
no idea of, what these people do out here! Well, one is selling me a mug of
12. I catch up on much needed sleep, and then it
is time for me to leave the southern Dhofa region. I think I have se most of
what it offer on this time of year. I head north-east on the northern road,
inland, towards Haima. I consider it to be a transport day; 500 kilometres
through rather dull, flat and almost barren highland.
Back at the main road, sand is shifting across, and dunes
are formed along the side of the road. A few places have the usual
salt-bush, else it is barren.
As I now leave the south, and enters the north, it is time for diary 3.