Trekking around Harraz Mountain is a must do day trip while staying in Manakhan. I paid YR2,000 (May 2008) despite the guide firstly asked for YR5,000 for a 5 hour trekking trip around Harraz Mountain. I visited Lakamat al-Qadi, Kahel, Al-Hoteib. It worths the trek but be sure you bargain for the price. I think my price was high and YR1,000 should be ok.
Manakha makes a useful base from which to trek to surrounding villages. You can either just follow the recently paved roads connecting these villages or you can find a local guide in order to follow some less frequented routes and enjoy more unspoilt scenery!!
It is well worth staying there a full day or more and explore this magnificent area!
A good option to do a short walk to see some other fortified villages is taking the path wchich starts in Hutaib, near the Isamil sanctuary of Hatim bin Ibrahim al-Hamdi. From there, you can visit other villages, some of them far from the main roads and less touristic than Al Hajjarah or Manakhah.
I specially liked the one of the picture, that was nearly abandoned.
There are many paths to trek in the Haraz Mountains Some can take only one day and other a week. Anyway, i recommend specially to do one of the treks to get a better knowledge of all the region. Landscape all along the way is wonderful, fortified villages builded up high peaks, and to west side, mountains descending to the red sea. Fields are green, and there are some small forests sparsed, as it rains more than the other regions of the country,
Tradition, as in nearly all the country is kept, but chnage has already arrived to the area: young people go to cities for work, and some villages have been nearly abandoned.
Many villages like Al Hajjarah were strongholds to the families lived in the region. As wars between tribes were usual ( today wars between tribes last in north , Sadah Region or in the desert) , people lived inside these frotified villages in oprder to defend from their enemies.
As the villages were builded on hills or high peaks, it was difficult to reach them, as was easy to the people to guard the surrounding fields from inside.
Al Hajjarah is the most visitted fortified village in Haraz Mountains . All the village is rounded by a stone wallwith only a gateto access.
The frotress was builded in XI century as the Saluyid family established in this region. Near the village was builded up a fortress by this familiy, which ruled the province.
You can visit all the village in one hour, finding some stone houses with more tahn eight floor.
Hilltop villages, spectacular mountains, deep wadis form this area. With the fresh air of high altitude, trekking is a unique experience and well worth trying... (I didn't and I regret it)