Socotra – The alien island

Socotra Island is really the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean (Arabian Se ). It is the biggest Yemeni island and its area is about 3650 Km2. It is located to the east Gulf of Aden and it is about 880 Km off Aden city (The Free Zone). The nearest point in the main land to Socotra is Ras Fartak in Almahara Governorate which is about 380 Km. The island is home to many rare species of plants, insects, animals, and birds, which live there, almost undisturbed. It is necessary to safeguard this rare biodiversity in the island and its marine surrounding against the sort of development that has destroyed almost every comparable island in the world.

The island had remained in isolation and off-limits to visitors till president Ali Abdullah Salih opened the island’s first tarmac airstrip in 1999. Before that, it used to be accessible only by small turbo-prop planes and only outside the monsoon season. Now, Yemenia two weekly flights by jetliners, one from Aden and one from Sana’a give an opportunity to tourists to visit the island.

Geologically some millions of years ago Socotra split away from the mainland, Arabia and Africa. It has since evolved in perfect isolation. There are more than 900 plant species in the island and a third of them exist no where else in the world. A trip into the Higher Mountains reveals a bizarre landscape dotted by Dragon’s Blood Trees (the Two Brothers blood Trees), shaped like inside-out umbrella. There are about 150 kinds of birds live in the island and six kinds are indigenous and three kinds are globally subjected to extinction.

Historically, the island has been renowned as one of the main producers of Frankincense, Myrrh and Laudanum of the best quality. Such commodities were used in temples during the religious rites in the ancient times. Also remedies have been extracted from the island’s plants, such as „Cinnabar” (a red substance produces by the Two Brothers Blood Trees) and Taif or Aloe Perry extract. However, this unique biodiversity in the island and its marine surroundings enriching with precious fish-wealth, coral reefs and other marine lives has become threatened by predators who sniffing their preys of such rare plants, animals, and birds. Also the gross exploitation of the fish wealth exposes it to loss.

Therefore, the island must be protected carefully. The Socotran citizens, the authorities in charge, the environmentalists and the nature conservationists should cooperate in order to vigilantly protect this incomparable natural museum against any damages.

Here you have a plan for a short holiday in Socotra:

Day 1: Hadibo, beach and sunset
Welcome at Socotra airport, on Monday or Friday morning flight. To have a quick preview of the island, we will visit the Socotra Ecotourism Society visitor information center at the airport. Then we will then go to the hotel in Hadibo to check in. After lunch in a restaurant in Hadibo, we will visit Deleisha coast, not far from Hadibo: swimming in the sea and also in a freshwater lagoon, sleeping on pristine white sand, taking pictures of the landscape with a beautiful background of mountains. If you want to stay up to the night, you will see a fabulous sunset from Deleisha. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Hadibo.

Day 2: Hiking around the Dragon Trees
After breakfast, we will go by 4×4 vehicle to Dixsam plateau and Shebahon viewpoint. Dixsam, located in the mountains in central Socotra, is famous for the endemic Dragon Blood trees. For the Shebahon viewpoint, you will enjoy a fabulous panorama on the Daerhu canyon. Then, we will go down (easy walk) to the wadi (river) and get lunch near the fresh water. Swimming is possible in the freshwater pools. At the end of the afternoon, driving to the camping site in Dixsam.

Day 3: Dunes and sea
After breakfast start hiking for 4-5 hour from the camp sit to Hagehar, in the South Coast of Socotra. This itinerary maybe be also made by car. Lunch on the way. Arrive at Amek beach, a beach with blue waters and bright white dunes of sand (on the photo, you can see me in the dunes).
Dinner and overnight camping at Amek beach.

Day 4: Qalansyia/Detwah lagoon
After breakfast we drive from Amek beach to Qalansyia fishing village, very traditional. A few kilometers from Qalansyia, we go to the protected area of Detwah lagoon, probably the most famous landscape of Socotra. Swimming, climbing the dunes, bird watching … Dinner and camping overnight in Detwah lagoon.

Day 5: Going to Shu’ab beach with dolphins
After breakfast at Detwah lagoon we take a boat ride from Qalansyia to Shu’ab. Many cormamorants and dolphins on the way. We’ll arrive at Shu’ab after a one-hour trip and we will have lunch. Free afternoon to swim, enjoy this pristine beach or discovering the near area. In late afternoon we take the boat ride back to Qalansyia. Line fishing may also be possible from the boat, if you want fish for dinner of course. We will then go back to Hadibo for dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 6: Arher
After having breakfast, we drive by vehicle to Arher beach on the north east coast, which is a meeting point of salty and fresh water, with huge dunes going down from top of mountains, up the turquoise sea. We will enjoy swimming and exploring this site. Fantastic view from the top of the dunes is possible if you are strong enough to climb! Dinner and overnight camping at Arher, near of freshwater river.

Day 7: Dihamri marine protected area
Dihamri marine protected area is the one of the richest coral reefs of the archipelago. This is a good area for snorkeling or diving as well (diving is not included in the price of the trip). But please do not touch the corals in the marine protected area, as this would cause irreversible damage. Back to Hadibo for dinner and overnight at hotel in Hadibo.

Day 8: Departure from Socotra
After an early breakfast, we will drop to Socotra airport to take your morning flight to the mainland. If you are lucky, the aircraft pilot will flight over Socotra and you will be able to have an aerial view from the sites you have visited.?

The cost for the above itinerary: 1500$ for 1 person / 1800$ for 3 persons (=600$ per person)
These prices are fully inclusive of airport transfers, 4×4 vehicle and driver, all transport, well experienced English speaking local guide, hotel accommodation, camping equipment, food, protected areas entry.

Airtickets are not included in this price; look out for Yemenia Airlines
(Sanaa/Socotra/Sanaa flight is around 200$, flights are on Monday and Friday).

dream island

Socotra Island / Yemen