16-Dec-2005 -- This confluence point is the closest to the Yemeni capital, Ṣan`ā'. As the crow flies it is only about 45 km from the centre of Ṣan`ā', although in the mountainous terrain of the Yemeni highlands even such a short distance as this can be a serious off-road undertaking.
Much of the hard work on finding a route to the point was done by Phil Boyle and Sarah Marchant (who have made a number of first visits to confluence points in Yemen, see 15N 49E for more information). In a first attempt they identified a route navigable by car that took them to within 1 km of the point after three hours' driving. No time remained to hike this distance in difficult mountainous terrain on that occasion. But Phil and Sarah led a group of British Embassy staff on a repeat attempt a few weeks later.
The route we took stayed with surfaced road as far as possible, but still requires about two hours' off-road driving down a wādiy bed which was still in flow in places. At one point the route passes through an extraordinary water-cut cleft in the rock which is only just wide enough for a 4-WD vehicle. We took the cars as close as we could to the CP, at the narrow end of a side-branch of the wādiy. Steep, scree-covered slopes of between 100-300 m surround the river bed at this point, and it was simply a case of choosing the least difficult line of ascent. Opinion differed on this point and so separate groups set off to converge on the CP. The steep slopes, scree, spiky thorn bushes, and hidden clefts made it hard going and several of us turned back.
But two of us made it to the Confluence, which lies next to a prominent tree on one of those tricky slopes. The view from this point is impressive, over another river bed and a range of hills. We attempted a more direct route on the way back to the vehicles and found ourselves doing some quite challenging scrambling down a steep gully which was dry due to the time of year. But the challenges were not over. Although we had obtained permission from the local tribesmen to enter their wādiy, two local men had not been informed. They stopped us as we retraced our route up the wādiy but, after a few tense moments, let us continue. This is a factor which any other visitors to this point should bear in mind, and it is interesting that the only other person who has recorded an attempt to visit this site also had similar difficulties.
Notes: For those wanting to see more information about the involvement of the British Embassy in the Degree Confluence Project, or confluence hunting in Yemen, please see the report for 15N 49E. Those wishing to visit Yemen should consult the travel advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, or the advice of their own Ministry of Foreign Affairs.