Located in the Gulf of Aden off the horn of Africa, Socotra is one of those “lost world” islands (separated from the world six million years ago) where intrepid travellers - particularly those seeking exotic nature and wildlife in a remote tropical setting — can go for days on end without rubbing shoulders with that less-than-endangered species, the tourist!
Known for decades as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, it is the world’s tenth richest island for endemic plant species, and it is the biggest island in the Middle East measuring 125 kilometres in length and 45 kilometres across.
For extra reading check out this New York Times Article about Socotra.
Day 1 – Jan 4: Arrival in Sana’a
Transfer group to hotel for overnight stay. The extremely photogenic old Sana’a, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is nearly 3000 years old. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It is also home to the first and largest mosque in Yemen. Overnight: Hotel Burj Salam
Day 2 – Jan 5: Yemen
After breakfast, drive to Manakha. Visit Hajjarah. And Al-Hoteib, at Khahil Village. Tour Manakha on foot. You will also have the opportunity to attend a Yemeni-style party (dancing, food, traditional music, etc.) in evening.
Overnight: Manakha at Hotel Al-Aqil, BLD
Day 3 – Jan 6: Yemen
After breakfast, drive to Shibam & Kawkaban, a sister set of towns just north of Sana’a. The village looks like a castle complex. There is only one gate to enter, and it is filled with preserved mosques and water reservoirs. On the way we will stop at Hababah and Thula. We then visit Wadi Dahr, the home to Dar al Hajjar, the rock palace of the former Imam Yahya. Overnight: Hotel Burj Salam BLD
Day 4 – Jan 7: Sana’a
After breakfast we will visit the National Museum. We then drive to the abandoned village of Bait Baws, a historic site on the outskirts of Sana’a, previously a Jewish settlement, now a popular weekend getaway for Yemeni families. It sits on a cliff overlooking Sana’a. We then visit the Al Saleh Mosque (with tour of mosque’s interior), Bab Al-Yemen, Old Sana’a (including old market and Heritage House). Overnight: Hotel Burj Salam, BLD
Day 5 – Jan 8: Flight to Socotra
Transfer to the airport for our flight from Sana’a to Socotra. Upon your arrival at Socotra airport you will meet our local guide who will escort us to Hadiboh and then on to Delisha Beach. Later then we will make our way up to the Homhil protected area. It is the best place on the island to see frankincense and Dragon’s Blood Trees.
The lower plain is surrounded by an impressive limestone amphitheatre. A twenty five minute walk north from the camp brings us to a breathtaking view. On our first night, we will stay at the picturesque Homil Campsite where we will enjoy a delicious Bedouin style dinner. Overnight: Homhil Campsite, BLD
Day 6 – Jan 9: Socotra
After an early breakfast, we can walk a selection of trails, on one of which takes us to a viewpoint where there is a natural swimming pool and a view of villages and the plain stretching out to the sea below. Homhil is home to many Dragons Blood trees, the resin of which is collected and traded by the people of Socotra. Frankincense trees are also abundant here and deserve a close look. We hike down to the northeast coast of the island to Wadi Al-Shifa (medium –three hours walking) where our car will meet us. We drive to the Arher area, where fresh water drains to the sea, and which is home to some magnificent sand dune formations. Overnight: Arher Beach, BLD
Day 7 – Jan 10: Socotra
Today we will have the opportunity for swimming and snorkeling. If you have the energy, you can hike up the sand dunes. We will then explore Ras Irsal, a 3km long beach home to the ghost crabs. We drive back to Arher for lunch and relax at the beach. Fresh fish will be caught and barbecued for dinner and we will spend the night under the stars. Overnight: Arher Beach, BLD
Day 8 – Jan 11: Socotra
Today we headed to the marine protected area of Dihamri, home to one of the richest coral reefs and uniquely protected coral reef in the archipelago. The many marine creatures to be seen whilst swimming /snorkeling include; parrotfish, Moray eel, Rays, Sea urchins, etc. Dihamri is blessed with more than 200 fish species and 4 of the 5 coral species that inhabit to the island. This shallow reef will let even the inexperienced snorkeler enjoy its beauty. We would like to remind people not to touch the corals in the marine protected area as this would cause irreversible damage. Then we drive to Hadibo, dinner and overnight will at the hotel. Overnight: Adeeb’s camsite, BLD
Day 9 – Jan 12: Socotra
After an early breakfast we start to Denghen to meet the cameleers to pack the stuff then start hiking up to mountain of Hajher to Adho Di Malleh. This takes roughly 5- 6 hours on foot. This trek takes you into the heart of the granite mountains that dominate the landscape around Hadibo. It is one of the most remote and unspoilt places on the island. The area around Skant is densely forested with dragons blood trees. The area is often shouded in cloud giving Socotra its name of the “Island of Mists”. Overnight: Camping, BLD
Day 10 – Jan 13: Socotra
In the morning we hike down with the camels via Wadi Di Hazhoz to Daraho Village to meet the car and say farewell to the cameleers and continue to Dixam Plateau. Passing through the Forest of Firmahin which contains more that 3 million dragons blood trees. Overnight: Daraho Village, BLD
Day 11 – Jan 14: Socotra
From Daraho we will drive to the Shebahon viewpoint which affords a fabulous vista to a forest of dragons blood trees. Overlooking the Dearhur Canyon you will see unusual and beautiful rock formations. We will then make our way down to the Wadi in the canyon for lunch. If you wish, you will be able to swim in the freshwater pools in the Wadi. Then we will head south east to Noged districts, navigating through some villages and cruising massive sand dunes pushed up against the mountainside by the seasonal winds of the monsoon. We make our way to Aomak Beach where we can swim in the clear water of the Indian Ocean. Overnight: Camping Aomak Beach, BLD
Day 12 – Jan 15: Socotra
After witnessing sunrise and having an early breakfast, we will drive to the north east of the island. On the way we will visit Dogub Cave, which overlooks a scattering of traditional villages below. The cave itself is of interest as there are many stalactites, stalagmites and miniature pools of water that have seeped through the rock over time. We will then drive to Qalansiyah to look around this charming and picturesque fishing town with its traditional houses and narrow alleyways.
We then go to the protected area in Detwah Lagoon, which is renowned for its spectacular landscape and expansive endless beach area. Stingrays can be seen in the lagoon, so take care when you are swimming. Enjoy the beach, or swim with in the clear crystal water, and photograph the wide variety of sea birds that inhabit the beach. We will have dinner under the stars. Overnight: Hotel Qalansiyah, BLD
Day 13 – Jan 16: Socotra
The last leg of this remarkable journey will be an excursion to Shoab Beach. We pick up our boat at Detwah Lagoon and we will be cruise with schools of dolphins leaping right next to the boat. You will also see Socotra cormorants, seagulls, and grey herons. Once we arrive at Shoab Beach we enjoy swimming in the clear sea with the dolphins. We then return to Qalansyia and back to our hotel at Hadibo. Overnight: Adeebs camsite, BLD
Day 14 – Jan 17: Return to Sana’a
After an early breakfast, we will transfer to Socotra airport for the short flight to back to Sana’a on Arabia Felix airlines. Here you will make your connection back home.
In mainland we will be staying at Burj Salam hotel (Sana’a) and at Al-Aqil hotel (Manakha). In Socotra, the hotels are not available at most places and we will be camping at well maintained campsites. All camping gear (tents, cooking supplies, mattresses, etc,) will be provided and is included in price.
All land travel (including airport transfers) in 4WD Land Cruisers, Yemeni English-speaking guide throughout the tour, photographic guidance by Jeremy Woodhouse and Luka Esenko, tourist visas, pre-arranged travel permits and entrance fees into museums, tourist sites, accommodation (with breakfast provided at hotels), all camping equipment (tents, mattresses, sheets, etc…), entrance into protected areas in Socotra, FB meal plan (breakfast, lunch, dinner) in Socotra, boats to Shouab beach, day trek with local guide and flight ticket Sana’a – Socotra – Sana’a
Airfares, meals not mentioned in itinerary, drinks, tips, optionals.
- We advise you to be reasonably fit as we will be hiking outdoors every day photographing landscapes.
- Electricity is rare commodity in Socotra. We will not have it available every day so bring enough memory cards and camera batteries for at least couple of days.
- Camping gear will be provided, but you should bring sour own sleeping bag. Make sure it’s light enough as temperatures on Socotra will be Summer-like.