The Lost World. Alien Island. The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
These are just some of the phrases often used to describe Socotra Island, often seen as a highly prized travel destination to visit in most adventurers eyes. Sadly for the past few years it has virtually been off the map due to the awful civil war in Yemen, although thankfully it has never been part of it and remains stable and secure.
Thankfully with the arrival of new direct flights this is all about to change making it more accessible but most importantly – safely! The flights from Abu Dhabi in the UAE will pave the way for tourism to be reborn in a place that is fourth in the world for endemic species in terms of the archipelagos flora and fauna.
My first ever group tours will be run in partnership with Lupine Travel and we’ve already announced two tours that will be running to the island, the first is in October and second during Easter 2018. Group numbers will be restricted due to the limited infrastructure on Socotra.
Day 1: Wednesday 4th October
Upon arrival to Socotra airport, you will be transferred to the Hadibo eco-lodge to acclimatize and have lunch. After lunch, we will head to Ayhaft Canyon National Park. In the canyon we will visit large fresh water-pools where you can swim and relax. All around can be seen a huge variety of endemic plants such as Dessert Rose, Tamarind trees, Cucumber trees and a wide variety of birds such as Socotra Sparrow, Socotra Sunbird and both Socotri and Somali Starlings.
After swimming, we will drive to Delisha beach which is is packed with pristine white sands full of crabs. We will relax while swimming both in the sea and in a freshwater lagoon. Afterwards we will climb a huge sand dune overseeing the beach. There is also a possibility of watching a beautiful sunset from Delisha.
Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel in Hadibo.
Day 2: Thursday 5th October
After breakfast, we will drive to the island’s north-east coast to explore a snorkeling site in Dihammri. Once in Dihammri, you can swim, snorkel and dive in the Marine Protected Area of Dihammri, home to one of the richest coral reefs on the archipelago. Dihammri is blessed with more than 200 fish species and 4 of the 5 coral species that inhabit to the island. This shallow reef will allow even the most inexperienced snorkeler to enjoy its beauty. The many marine creatures to be seen whilst swimming and snorkeling include; parrotfish, Moray eel, Rays, turtles and much more. Diving and snorkeling gear can be hired from Dihammri Diving Center. In the afternoon, we drive to natural zoon of Homhil which is home to many sorts of endemic plant like Dragon’s Blood Tree, Frankincense Tree and Desert Rose. Once in Homhil, we will walk along 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 below on the plain and of the Arabian Sea.
Dinner and overnight camp at Homhil campsite.
Day 3: Friday 6th October
After an early breakfast, we will drive to Terbak village where Hoq Cave is located. We will then hike up for 1.5 hours until we reach the entrance of the cave, before spending an hour inside. Hoq is the largest cave in the island. Over three km deep, the cave holds a wealth of Socotri history full of archaeological findings such as pieces of pottery, paintings and wooden tables with inscription in Aramaic language dating back to 258 AD. The cave offers an overwhelming beauty and variety of crystal decorations, like stalagmites, stalactites and calcite floors. We then drive to Ras Erisel which is located at the eastern end of the island where the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean meet. Afterwards we depart to the Arher area, which is a meeting point of fresh water from the mountain and salt water from the sea. Arher is also home to another magnificent sand dune. If you are feeling especially fit, you can climb the dunes for a view that is really worth the effort.
Dinner and overnight camp at Arher campsite.
Day 4: Saturday 7th October
Today we drive to the southern coast of the Island, through the unique Defarhu Valley. We will see traditional villages, natural water pools at the bottom of the canyon and the unusual Desert Rose tree growing on the canyon walls. The vegetation here is lush green and the area is full of birds. After lunch, we drive to Hayf and Zahek village to witness the massive sand dunes which have been pushed up against the mountainside by the seasonal winds of Socotra. We then make our way to the very expansive beach of Omak in the Indian Ocean. After swimming, sunbathing and relaxing in the clear water of the Indian Ocean in Omak, we depart to Digub cave, which overlooks a scattering of traditional villages below. There are many stalactites, stalagmites and pools of water in the cave that have seeped through the rock over time.
Dinner and overnight camp at Omak campsite.
Day 5: Sunday 8th October
Today, we make our way to Dixam plateau (700m above sea level) and Shebahon viewpoint. This area is home to many of the Socotri endemic plants such as Dragon’s Blood Tree. The Shebahon viewpoint gives a fabulous vista overlooking Daerhu canyon where we will see breathtaking sceneries and unusual, beautiful rock formations. We then make our way down to the Wadi in the canyon for lunch and swim in the freshwater pools. The afternoon is spent exploring the canyon.
Dinner and overnight camp at Wadi Dirhur campsite.
Day 6: Monday 9th October
Today we explore the Western part of the island. Our first stop will be Qalansiya; a small traditional fishing town. From there we will hop on a boat and head to the remote beach of Shuaab. We are very likely to see Spinner Dolphins and other sea life during the boat ride. Once in Shuaab, we can swim, relax and enjoy the pristine beach as well as have a look at nearby mangroves. After exploring the mangroves in the areas we head back to Qalansiya in time to explore the Detwah lagoon which is a marine protected area renowned for its magical landscape. This area has some of the best views on the island. We end our day by making the long drive back to Hadibo.
Dinner and overnight camp at Detwah Lagoon Protected area.
Day 7: Tuesday 10th October
A free day relaxing around the Detwah Lagoon area.
Day 8: Wednesday 11th October
After an early breakfast we transfer back to the airport ready for our flight back to Abu Dhabi.
The cost of the tour is £795 per person.
The price includes:
- Visa support documents
- All ground transport in 4x4s
- Accommodation and camping equipment
- Tours, entry fees, permits and English speaking guides
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner each day
- Bottled water and soft drinks
- Lupine tour leader
The price does not include:
- Visa fee
- International Flights
* Please note the flights are scheduled to depart from Abu Dhabi to Socotra every Wednesday starting from October 2017. Prices are not yet confirmed. Please don’t book your flights to Abu Dhabi until the Socotra flights go on sale (estimated July 2017).
If you’d like to have a chat about the tour or if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions please feel free to ask me by emailing me here.
You can also visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.
All images used have been sourced from Google and quoted to highlight ownership.