Travels in Arabia, by John Lewis Burckhardt

Route from Djidda to Tayf.

[I was unable to take any bearings during this excursion, as the only compass which I possessed, and which had served me throughout my Nubian journey, had become useless, and no opportunity offered of replacing it till December in this year, when I obtained one from a Bombay ship which arrived at Djidda.]

ON the 24th of August, 1814, (11th of Ramadhán, A.H. 1230.) I set out from Djidda, late in the evening, with my guide and twenty camel-drivers of the tribe of Harb, who were carrying money to Mekka for the Pasha’s treasury. After having left the skirts of the town, where the road passes by mounds of sand, among which is the cemetery of the inhabitants, we travelled across a very barren, sandy plain, ascending slightly towards the east; there are no trees in it, and it is strongly impregnated with salt to about two miles from the town. After three hours’ march, we entered a hilly country, where a coffee-hut stands near a well named Ragháme. We continued in a broad and winding valley amongst these hills, some sandy and some rocky, and, at the end of five hours and a half, stopped for a short time at the coffee-hut and well called El Beyádhye. Of these wells the water is not good. From thence, in one hour and a half, (seven hours in all,) we reached a similar station called El Feráyne, where we overtook a caravan of pilgrims, who were accompanying goods and provisions destilled for the army: they had quitted Djidda before us in the evening. The coffee-huts are miserable structures, with half-ruined walls, and coverings of brushwood; they afford nothing more than water and coffee. Formerly, it is said, there were twelve coffee-houses on this road, which afforded refreshments of every kind to the passengers between Djidda and the holy city; but as the journey is now made chiefly during the night, and as the Turkish soldiers will pay for nothing unless by compulsion, most of these houses have been abandoned. The few that still remain are kept by some of the Arabs of the Lahyan tribe, (a branch of the Hodheyl Arabs,) and Metarefe, whose families are Bedouins, and live among the hills with their flocks. From Ferayne the valley opens, and the hills, diverging on both sides, increase considerably in height. At the end of eight hours, about sun-rise we reached Bahhra, a cluster of about twenty huts, situated upon a plain nearly four hours in length and two in breadth, extending eastward. At Bahhra there is plenty of water in wells, some sweet and some brackish. In a row of eight or ten shops are sold rice, onions, butter, dates, and coffee-beans, at thirty per cent. in advance of the Djidda market-price. This is what the Arabs call a souk, or market, and similar places occur at every station in this chain of mountains as far as Yemen. Some Turkish cavalry was stationed at Bahhra to guard the road. After travelling for two hours farther over the plain, we halted, at ten hours from Djidda, at Hadda, a souk, similar to the above. Between Bahhra and Hadda, upon an insulated hillock in the plain, are the ruins of an ancient fortification.

August 25th. — The caravan from Djidda to Mekka rests during the day at Bahhra or at Hadda, thus following the common practice of the Hedjaz Arabs, who travel only by night. This is done in winter as well as in summer, not so much for the purpose of avoiding the heat as to afford the camels time for feeding, these animals never eating by night. Such nocturnal marches are most unfavourable to the researches of a traveller, who thus crosses the country at a time when no objects can be observed; and during the day, fatigue and the desire of sleep render every exertion irksome.

We alighted at Hadda, under the shed of a spacious coffee-hut, where I found a motley crew of Turks and Arabs, in their way to or from Mekka, each extended upon his small carpet. Some merchants from Tayf had just brought in a load of grapes; and, although I felt myself still weak from the fever, I could not withstand this temptation, and seized a few of them; for the baskets were no sooner opened than the whole company fell upon them, and soon devoured the entire load; the owner, however, was afterwards paid. It is at Hadda that the inhabitants of Djidda, when making a pilgrimage to Mekka, put on the ihram, or pilgrim’s cloak. By the Muselman law, every one is obliged to assume it, whatever may be his rank, who enters the sacred territory of Mekka, whether on pilgrimage or for other purposes; and he is enjoined not to lay it aside till after he has visited the temple. Many persons, however, transgress this law; but an o[r]thodox Mekkan never goes to Djidda without carrying his ihram with him, and on his return home, he puts it on at this place. In the afternoon some of the Turkish soldiers who were here put on this garment, with the prescribed ceremonies, which consist in an ablution, or, if the pilgrim choose, an entire purification, an audible avowal of the act of investment, a prayer of two rikats, and the recital of pious exclamations called telbye. This being a time of war, the soldiers continued to wear their arms over the cloak.

In the afternoon, the coffee-house keeper dressed the provisions I had brought, as well as those belonging to many others of the company. There was great disorder in the place, and nobody could attempt to sleep. Soon after our arrival, a troop of soldiers passed, and pitched their tents a little farther on the plain; they then entered the coffee-huts, and took away all the sweet water, which had been procured from a well about half-an-hour distant, and kept at Hadda in large jars. The huts of the few miserable inhabitants, thus exposed to all the casualties attending the continual passage of troops, are formed with brushwood, in the shape of a flattened cone, and they receive light only through the entrance; here the whole family lives huddled together in one apartment. The numerous coffee-huts are spacious sheds, supported by poles, with the coffee-waiter’s hearth placed in one corner. They are infested by great numbers of rats, bolder than any I ever saw.

We left Hadda about five o’clock in the evening. The road continuing over the plain, the soil is sandy, in some parts mixed with clay, and might, I think, be easily cultivated by digging wells. At one hour from Hadda, we saw on our left, in the plain, some date-trees: here, as I understood, flows a small rivulet, which in former times irrigated some fields. The trees are at present neglected. We now left the plain, and diverging a little south-ward from our easterly course, again entered a hilly country, and reached, at two hours from Hadda, another coffee-hut, called Shemeysa. Behind it is the Djebel Shemeysa, or mountain of Shemeysa, from which, according to the historians of Mekka, was extracted the marble of many columns in the mosque of that holy city. In the mountain, near the hut, is a well. From Shemeysa we rode in a broad valley overspread with deep sands, and containing some thorny trees. At four hours from Hadda, we passed Kahwet Salem, or Salem’s coffee-shop, and a well; there we met a caravan coming from Mekka. The mountains nearly close at this place, leaving only a narrow straight valley, crossed at intervals by several other valleys. We then proceeded as far as Hadjalye, a coffee-house, seven hours distant from Hadda, with a large well near it, which supplies the camel-drivers of the Syrian pilgrim caravan, on the way to and from Mekka.

Not having enjoyed a moment’s sleep since we quitted Djidda, I lay down on the sands, and slept till day-break, while my companions pursued their road to Mekka. My guide only remained with me; but his fears for the safety of his camels would not allow him to close his eyes. The route from Djidda to Mekka is always frequented by suspicious characters; and as every body travels by night, stragglers are easily plundered. Near Hadjalye, are the ruins of an ancient village, built with stone; and in the Wady are traces of former cultivation.

August 26th. — At half an hour from Hadjalye, we came to a small date plantation, surrounded by a wall. From hence the road to Mekka lies to the right, and enters the town by the quarter called Djerouel. My guide had orders to conduct me by a by-road to Tayf, which passes in the north of Mekka; it branches off at Hadda, crosses the road from Mekka to Wady Fatmé, and joins the great road from Mekka to Tayf, beyond Wady Muna. Just before we left Hadda, my guide, who knew nothing further respecting me than that I had business with the Pasha at Tayf, that I performed all the outward observances of a Moslem pilgrim, and that I had been liberal to him before our departure, asked me the reason of his having been ordered to take me by the northern road. I replied, that it was probably thought shorter than the other. “That is a mistake,” he replied; “the Mekka road is quite as short, and much safer; and if you have no objection, we will proceed by it.” This was just what I wished, though I had taken care not to betray any anxiety on the subject; and we accordingly followed the great road, in company with the other travellers. Instead, however, of taking me the usual way, which would have carried me through the whole length of the town, he, having no curiosity to gratify, conducted me, without my being aware of it, by a short cut, and thus deprived me of an opportunity of seeing Mekka fully at this time.

From the date plantation beyond Hadjalye, we reached in half an hour the plain where the Syrian pilgrim-caravan usually encamps, and which has taken the name of Sheikh Mahmoud, from the tomb of a saint so called, built in the midst of it. It is encompassed by low mountains; is from two to three miles in length, and one in breadth; and is separated from the valley of Mekka by a narrow chain of hills, over which a road has been cut through the rocks, with much labour. By this road we ascended, and on the summit of the hill passed two watch-towers, built on each side of the road by the Sherif Ghaleb. As we descended on the other side, where the road is paved, the view of Mekka opened upon us; and at an hour and a half from Hadjalye, we entered the eastern quarter of the town, near the Sherif’s palace (marked 50 in the plan). The great body of the town lay on our right, hidden, in part, by the windings of the valley. As I knew that I should return to Mekka, I did not press my guide to allow me a full view of the city, since we should, for that purpose, have been obliged to ride back about two miles in a contrary direction. I repressed my curiosity, therefore, and followed him, reciting those ejaculations which are customary on entering the holy city.

I travelled several times afterwards between Mekka and Djidda, in both directions. The caravan’s rate of march is here very slow, scarcely exceeding two miles an hour. I have ridden from Mekka to Djidda upon an ass in thirteen hours. The distance may, perhaps, be fairly estimated at sixteen or seventeen hours’ walk, or about fifty-five miles; the direction a trifle to the northward of east.

On turning to our left, we passed, a little farther on, the great barracks of the Sherif; and in the suburbs called El Moabede, we alighted at the house of an Arab, with whom my guide happened to be acquainted. It was now the fast of Ramadhán; but travellers are exempted by law from observing it. The woman of the house, whose husband was absent, prepared us a breakfast, for which we paid her, and remained in the house till after mid-day; we then remounted our camels, and turning by the Sherif’s garden-house, situated at the eastern extremity of the suburbs, we took the high road to Wady Muna. Winding valleys, of greater or less breadth, covered with sands, and almost wholly destitute of vegetation, with hills on both sides, equally barren, lead to Muna. At half an hour from the garden-house of the Sherif, the country opens a little to the left. There the canal passes which supplies Mekka with sweet water; and we saw, about two miles distant, at the extremity of the opening, a conical mountain, called Djebel el Nour, considered holy by the pilgrims, as will be subsequently mentioned. We passed on our right, in an hour and a half, a large tank, built of stones. This, in the time of the Hadj, is filled with water from the canal, which passes close by it. I believe this to be the place called Sebyl-es-Sett. One of the side-valleys between Mekka and Muna is called Wady Mohsab. El Fasy, the historian of Mekka, says that there were formerly sixteen wells between that city and Muna. At the end of two hours, after having ascended a little by a paved causeway formed across the valley, which is about forty yards in breadth, we entered Wady Muna. Near the causeway we saw a small field, irrigated by means of a brackish well, where a few miserable Bedouins raised onions and leeks for the market at Mekka. I shall give hereafter a more detailed description of Wady Muna, where the Hadj remains three days after its return from Arafat.

We continued our route among the ruined houses of Muna, passed the short columns, at which the pilgrims throw stones, then the Sherif’s palace, and issued into the open country, which continues thence towards Mezdelife, distant three hours and three quarters from Mekka. This name is given to a small mosque, now almost in ruins, close to which is a tank or reservoir of water. Here a sermon is preached from a high platform in front of the mosque, to the pilgrims after their return from Arafat. El Fasy, the historian, says that this mosque was built in A.H. 759. It is often called Moshár el Haram; but, according to the same author, this name belongs to a small hill at the extremity of the valley of Mezdelife, which bears also the appellation of El Kazeh. From Mezdelife two roads lead to Arafat; the one on the left along the plain or valley called Dhob; the other leads straight across the mountain, and joins the former near the Aalameyn. We proceeded along the great road in the valley. At four hours and a quarter the mountains again close, and a narrow pass called El Mazomeyn or El Medyk leads across them for half an hour, after which the view opens upon the plain of Arafat. At the end of four hours and three quarters, we passed, in this plain, a tank called Bir Basan, constructed of stone, with a small chapel adjoining. Here the country opens widely to the north and south. Eastward, the mountains of Tayf are seen for the first time in their full height. [On my return from Tayf to Mekka, when I was completely my own master, I drew up a much more detailed and accurate description of the road than this given here; but I accidentally lost the papers containing it; the present, therefore, is written from memory, and the few short notes which I hastily made during the route to Tayf.] At five hours we reached El Aalameyn, two stone structures standing one on each side of the road, from eighty to one hundred paces from each other, and between them the pilgrims must pass in going, and more particularly in returning from Arafat. They are of coarse masonry, plaistered white, and the annexed outline represents their form.[Not included]

Fasy says that there were formerly three, that they were built in A.H. 605, and that one had fallen. Of those now remaining one is entire, the other half ruined. At five hours and a quarter we passed to our right a large insulated mosque in a state of decay, called Djama Nimre, or Djama Ibrahim, built as it now stands by the Sultan Kail, Bey of Egypt. The low mountain of Arafat was now to our left at the extremity of the plain, about two miles distant. We proceeded, without stopping, over the plain, which is covered with shrubs of considerable height, and low acacia trees: from these it is prohibited to take even the smallest branch, this being holy ground. On attaining the eastern limits of the plain, we reached, at five hours and three quarters, the canal of Mekka, issuing from the mountainous ground. Near it is a small tank, and in its vicinity a cluster of Arab huts similar to those at Hadda, and bearing the name of Kahwet Arafat, or the coffee-house of Arafat. They are inhabited chiefly by Beni Koreysh, who cultivate vegetables in a valley extending from hence towards the south. We rested here some hours; a caravan from Tayf, composed of mules and asses, arrived at the same time.

From Kahwet Arafat, the road becomes rocky, and the mountains nearly close, and are intersected by valleys which cross the road in every direction. Acacia-trees grow here in great abundance. At seven hours and a half we again entered upon sandy ground, in a valley called Wady Noman, where, towards the south, are some wells, and a few plantations cultivated by the Arab tribes of Kebákeb and Ryshye. At eight hours and a half we passed an encampment of the Bedouin tribe of Hodheyl, where dogs attacked our camels so fiercely that I had much difficulty, though mounted, to defend myself from their teeth. At eight hours and three quarters we passed a cluster of huts and coffee-shops, called shedad, with wells of very good water. At nine hours and a half, it being a cloudy and extremely dark night, we lost our way in following the windings of a side valley, and being unable to regain the right road, we lay down on the sand and slept till day-break.

August 27th. — We found ourselves close to the road, and proceeding, we began to ascend, in half an hour, the great chain of mountains. From Djjdda to this place, our route, though generally between hills and mountains, had been constantly over flat ground, in valleys, with an ascent almost imperceptible to the traveller, and the existence of which became visible only in viewing the country from the summit of the mountains now before us. The lower hills are seldom higher than four or five hundred feet. The lowest range above Djidda is calcareous; but its rocks soon change into gneiss, and a species of granite, with schorl in the place of feldspath, accompanied by predominant masses of quartz, and some mica. This rock continues along the road, with few variations, as far as the vicinity of Djebel Nour, to the eastward of Mekka, where granite begins. I learned at Mekka, that, south of Hadda, some hours distant, a mountain yields fine marble, which served for the pavement of the great mosque. The mountains forming the valley of Muna are composed of this red and grey granite, and continue so from thence to this higher chain, mixed in a few places with strata of grunstein. The lower chain of the high ridge which we were now ascending, again, consists of grey granite; towards the middle I found it of all colours, mixed with strata of grunstein, trappe, and porphyry schistus, the latter much decayed: at the summit of the ridge, red granite occurred again; its surface had been completely blackened by the sun’s rays.

We ascended by a road, still bad, although Mohammed Ali Pasha had recently caused it to be repaired. The country around was very wild, being covered with large blocks of loose stones, carried down by the winter torrents, and interspersed with a few acacia and nebek trees. At one hour we came to a building of loose stones, called Kaber Er’-rafyk, i.e. the Companion’s tomb. The following tradition concerning it was related by my guide. In the last century, a Bedouin returning from the Hadj was joined, beyond the gates of Mekka, by a traveller going the same road with himself; they reached this spot in company, when one of them felt himself so ill, that he was unable to proceed farther, and on the following day the small-pox broke out on his body. In this situation his companion would not abandon him. He built two huts with boughs of acacia-trees, one for his friend, the other for himself; and continued to nurse him, and solicit alms for his benefit from passing travellers, until he recovered. But in turn, he himself became ill of the same disease, and was nursed by his convalescent companion with equal kindness, though not with equal success; for he died, and was interred by his friend on this spot, where his tomb serves as a monument of Bedouin generosity, and inculcates benevolence even towards the casual companions of the road.

At one hour and a half, still ascending, we reached some huts built among the rocks, near a copious spring; they are named Kahwet Kora, from the mountains which collectively bear the name of Djebel Kora. I found here a Turkish soldier, charged with the transport of provisions for the Pasha’s army over the mountain. This being the shortest road from Mekka to Tayf, caravans are continually passing. The camel-loads are deposited at this place, and then forwarded to the summit of the mountain on mules and asses, of which about two hundred are kept here. On the mountain camels are prepared for carrying the loads to Tayf. The more northern road to Tayf, of which I shall speak hereafter, is passable for camels all the way; but it is by one day longer than this.

The huts of Kora are constructed between the rocks, on the slope of the mountain, where there is scarcely any level surface. The inhabitants are Hodheyl Bedouins. In two or three huts nothing could be procured but coffee and water. The Turkish soldier had lately incurred the Pasha’s displeasure, having stolen and sold the camel of a Hodheyl woman, who had gone to lay her complaint before his master, the Pasha, at Tayf. The soldier treated me with much civility, when he learned that I was going to visit the Pasha, and begged me to intercede in his behalf; this, however, I declined to do, telling him that I was myself a solicitor for my own concerns. We remained till mid-day at this pleasant spot, from whence there is a fine prospect over the lower country. A large nebek-tree, near the spring which drizzles down the rocks, afforded me shade, and a delicious cool breeze allayed the sultry heat which we had endured ever since our departure from Djidda. Leaving Kora, we found the road very steep, and, although it had lately been repaired, so bad, that a mounted traveller could hardly hope to reach the summit without alighting. Steps had been cut in several places, and the ascent rendered less steep, by conducting it, in many windings, to the top: half a dozen spacious resting-places had also been formed on the side of the mountain, where the caravans take breath, there being no where so much as eight square feet of level ground. The same spring, which comes from near the top, is crossed several times. I met many of the Hodheyl Bedouins, with their families and flocks of sheep, near the road. One of them gave me some milk, but would not take any money in return; the sale of milk being considered by these Bedouins as a scandal, though they might derive great profits from it at Mekka, where one pound of milk is worth two piastres. I conversed freely with the men, and with the wife of one of them. They seemed a race of hardy mountaineers, and, although evidently poor, have a more robust and fleshy appearance than the northern Bedouins, which I ascribe chiefly to the healthiness of the climate, and the excellence of the water. The Beni Hodheyl, famous in the ancient history of Arabia, were nominally subject to the Sherif of Mekka, in whose territory they live; but they were in fact quite independent, and often at war with him.

We were full two hours in ascending from the coffee-huts to the summit of the mountain, from whence we enjoyed a beautiful prospect over the low country. We discerned Wady Muna, but not Mekka; and as far as the eye could reach, winding chains of hills appeared upon a flat surface, towards the north and south, with narrow stripes of white sand between them, without the slightest verdure. Close to our right rose a peak of the mountain Kora, called Nakeb el Ahmar, from four to five hundred feet higher than the place where we stood, and appearing to overtop all the neighbouring chain. Towards the north, the mountain, about thirty miles distant, seemed to decrease considerably in height; but southward it continues of the same height. After half an hour’s ride from the summit, we came to a small village called Ras el Kora. Finding myself much fatigued, I insisted upon sleeping here, with which my guide reluctantly complied, as he had received orders to travel expeditiously.

August 28th. — The village and neighbourhood of Ras el Kora is the most beautiful spot in the Hedjaz, and more picturesque and delightful than any place I had seen since my departure from Lebanon, in Syria. The top of Djebel Kora is flat, but large masses of granite lie scattered over it, the surface of which, like that of the granite rocks near the second cataract of the Nile, is blackened by the sun. Several small rivulets descend from this peak, and irrigate the plain, which is covered with verdant fields and large shady trees on the side of the granite rocks. To those who have only known the dreary and scorching sands of the lower country of the Hedjaz, this scene is as surprising as the keen air which blows here is refreshing. Many of the fruit-trees of Europe are found here — figs, apricots, peaches; apples, the Egyptian sycamore, almonds, pomegranates; but particularly vines, the produce of which is of the best quality. There are no palm-trees here, and only a few nebek-trees. The fields produce wheat, barley, and onions; but the soil being stony, these do not succeed so well as the fruits. Every beled, as they here call the fields, is enclosed by a low wall, and is the property of a Hodheyl Bedouin. When Othman el Medhayfe took Tayf from the Sherif, this place was ruined, the fields were destroyed, and many of the walls had not yet been rebuilt.

After having passed through this delightful district, for about half an hour, just as the sun was rising, when every leaf and blade of grass was covered with a balmy dew, and every tree and shrub diffused a fragrance as delicious to the smell as was the landscape to the eye, I halted near the largest of the rivulets, which, although not more than two paces across, nourishes upon its banks a green Alpine turf, such as the mighty Nile, with all its luxuriance, can never produce in Egypt. Some of the Arabs brought us almonds and raisins, for which we gave them biscuits; but although the grapes were ripe, we could not obtain any, as they are generally purchased while on the vines by the merchants of Tayf, who export them to Mekka, and keep them closely watched by their own people till they are gathered. Here a Turkish soldier, complimented with the title of Aga, was stationed under a tent, to forward the provisions coming from the lower station to Tayf. I observed with some astonishment, that not a single pleasure-house was built on this high platform. Formerly, the Mekka merchants had their country-seats at Tayf, which stand in a situation as desert and melancholy, as this is cheerful and luxuriant; but none of them ever thought of building a cottage here; a new proof of the opinion which I have long entertained, that orientals, especially the Arabs, are much less sensible of the beauties of nature than Europeans. The water of Ras el Kora is celebrated throughout the Hedjaz for its excellence. While Mohammed Ali remained at Mekka and at Djidda, he received a regular supply of Nile water for drinking, sent from Egypt, by every fleet, in large tin vessels; but on passing this place, he found its water deserving of being substituted for the other: a camel comes here daily from Tayf for a load of it.

The houses of the Hodheyl, to whom these plantations belong, are scattered over the fields in clusters of four or five together. They are small, built of stones and mud, but with more care than might be expected from the rude hands of the occupants. Every dwelling comprises three or four rooms, each of which being separated from the others by a narrow open space, forms, as it were, a small detached cottage. These apartments receive no light but from the entrance; they are very neat and clean, and contain Bedouin furniture, some good carpets, woollen and leathern sacks, a few wooden bowls, earthen coffee-pots, and a matchlock, of which great care is taken, it being generally kept in a leathern case. At night I reposed upon a large well-tanned cow-skin: the covering was formed of a number of small sheep-skins neatly sewed together, similar to those used in Nubia. The Hodheyl told me, that before the Wahabys came, and obliged them to pay tribute for their fields, they knew no land-tax, but, on the contrary, received yearly presents from the sherifs, and from all the Mekkawys who passed this way to Tayf. Ras el Kora extends from east to west about two and a half or three miles, and is about a mile in breadth. According to the statements of the Arabs, many spots towards the south, where Bedouin tribes, like the Hodheyl, cultivate the soil in detached parts of the mountain, are equally fertile and beautiful as that which we saw in the chain above mentioned.

We left the Ras, which will be remembered by me as long as I am sensible to the charms of romantic scenery, and rode for about one hour over uneven barren ground, with slight ascents and descents, till we came to a steep declivity, to walk down which occupied us half an hour, and double that time would be necessary for ascending it. The rock is entirely composed of sand-stone. From the summit of the declivity just mentioned, Tayf is seen in the distance. At half an hour from the foot of the mountain, we entered a fertile valley, called Wady Mohram, extending from N.W. to S.E. Like the upper district, it is full of fruit-trees; but the few cultivated fields are watered from wells, and not by running streams. A village, which the Wahabys had almost wholly ruined, stands on the slope, with a small tower constructed by the inhabitants to secure the produce of their fields against the invasion of enemies.

Here begins the territory of Tayf, and of the Arab tribe of Thekyf, who, in former times, were often at war with their neighbours the Hodheyl. The Wady is denominated Mohram, from the circumstance, that here the pilgrims and visitors going from the eastward to Mekka, invest themselves with the ihram before noticed. There is a small ruined stone tank close by the road. The caravan of the Yemen pilgrims, called Hadj el Kebsy, whose route lies along these mountains, used always to observe the ceremony here, and the tank was then filled with water for ablution. The husbandmen of Mohram draw the water from their wells in leathern buckets suspended from one end of an iron chain, passed round a pulley, and to the other end they yoke a cow, which, for want of a wheel, walks to a sufficient distance from the well to draw up the bucket, when she is led back to resume the same course. The cows I saw here, like all those of the Hedjaz, are small, but of a stout, bony make: they have generally only short stumps of horns, and a hump on the back, just over the shoulder, about five inches in height and six in length, much resembling in this respect the cows which I saw on the borders of the Nile in Nubia. According to the natives, the whole chain of mountains from hence southward, as far as the country where the coffee-plantations begin, is intersected by similar cultivated valleys at some distance from each other, the intermediate space consisting chiefly of barren rocky soil.

From Wady Mohram we again crossed uneven, mountainous ground, where I found sand-stone and silex. Acacia trees are seen in several sandy valleys, branching out from the road. At two hours and a half from Wady Mohram we ascended, and at the top of the hill saw Tayf lying before us. We reached it in three hours and a half from Wady Mohram, after having crossed the barren sandy plain which separates it from the surrounding hills. The rate of our march from Mekka, when we were quite alone upon our dromedaries, and able to accelerate their pace at pleasure, was not less than three miles, and a quarter per hour. I therefore calculate from Mekka to the foot of Djebel Kora, about thirty-two miles; to its top, ten miles; and from thence to Tayf, thirty miles, making in the whole seventy-two miles. The bearing of the road from Arafat to Tayf is about twelve or fifteen degrees of the compass, to the southward of that from Mekka to Arafat; but having had no compass with me, I cannot give the bearing with perfect accuracy.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burckhardt/john_lewis/arabia/chapter2.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31