The village of Shahara sits atop the peaks of the majestic Jabal Shahara. Perched on the staggering summit of 2600 meters, Shahara was once a stronghold for the Imams. This fortified city could sustain itself for months on end in cases of isolation. It has ample water supplies from many large cisterns located within the towns walls. [above].

The Bridge of Sighs

Tourists come to Shahara is to see the famous Bridge of Sighs [left]. This engineering marvel spans a sheer 300 foot deep canyon. Shahara can be reached by climbing the many terraced slopes or, choosing the path of least resistance, by hiring a local fella' and his pick-up truck to carry you up. We did the latter.

The ride to the top was long drive in low gear. We climbed steadily up a winding dirt and gravel road. The roads leading up the mountain blended in smoothly with the steppes. I was never sure where the next corner would take us or just how close to the cliff's edge we were getting.

The evidence here of human endeavor was awe inspiring.

"What do you see?" Ahmed asked me. We were high in the steppes. As far as the eye could see the mountains were covered in man-made terraces used for agriculture. Not a foot of ground was neglected. The evidence here of human endeavor was awe inspiring.

We were offered the choice of sitting in the bed of the pick up, or standing, holding on to the frame of the truck. I stood and Gary sat. We would both recommend standing. Ouch!

Built in the early 17th Century, this famous bridge has stood the test of time. But it was still comforting to see some foot traffic as we approached. Just as in the old days, women used the pass to carry grain and feed for domestic sheep [left].

The view from the bridge at Shahara was awesome. From both sides of the bridge the mountains parted and revealed a glimpse of the enormous valley. Just about everything we saw was covered with terraced farms, mostly growing qat and coffee.

A young woman tends to the laundry in a centrally located cistren, early in the morning.

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