Socotra is a breathtaking virgin landscape with a warm climate, pristine white sand beaches, mysterious trees, majestic jagged-fanged mountains and vividly bright coral reefs. It is easy to understand why several ancient texts suggest Socotra is the original location of the Garden of Eden. Currently there is a travel advisory against travelling to Yemen or Socotra but we will keep this page up to date with the latest information.
Where in the world?
The mysterious and wild island of Socotra, famed for its unspoiled natural beauty, is part of an archipelago of four remote islands and two rocky islets. It lies in the northwest Indian Ocean, off the Horn of Africa. The island measures 132 kilometres (82 miles) in length and 49.7 kilometres (30.9 miles) in width.
The weekly flight arrives in Hadibo in the morning. We will drive 4x4s straight to our first camp on the edge of the Hajhir mountains. This will be the starting point for a two-day trek with camels into the heart of the island. In the evening, we shall dine under the stars and enjoy the excellent seafood available.
The following morning and with loaded camels, the plan is to walk into the Hajhir Mountains following ancient mountain paths and remote wadis up onto the Diksam Plateau. This is a journey into a prehistoric landscape, steep sided canyons interspersed with water filled pools and all set amidst Socotra’s unique mountain plants, including 2000-3000-year-old Dragon Blood trees. The camels will carry our food, water and luggage for the night, which will be spent sleeping under the stars or in lightweight trekking tents.
By night three, we will have arrived up on to the Diksam Plateau where we will be greeted with a full, mobile camp set amidst a forest of ancient Dragons Blood trees. Your accommodation is large white bell tents, with sewn in ground sheets, perfect for the environment and very spacious. For beds we use comfortable, double mattresses, good quality cotton sheets, duvets and pillows. Each pair of tents will share a well-appointed bathroom tent, equipped with a shower, loo, wash basin and environmentally sound cosmetic products. A central ‘Majlis’ area will be set for relaxing in, with shade, rugs and cushions and a small Soqotri library. When in camp, meals will be served by a fire in the majlis.
One of the islands most remote and spectacular beaches is at Shuab and is only accessible by boat. The plan is to set up camp there and to use this fabulous location as a base for the next 3 days.
We will have boats and an expert team on hand to enable us to explore underwater with masks and diving equipment. As with everything else on Socotra, the sea life is unique and remarkable. You can expect numerous fish species, excellent visibility, thriving corals and warm water. From our beach base we will also be able to foray along the coast to various points of interest. We will also spend some time with the friendly and welcoming local fishing communities. The fishing in Socotra is amongst the best ‘frontier’ fishing in the world and for those who are keen, you will be able try your hand at catching supper with a Soqotri fishing guide.
After breakfast, take a morning flight back to Cairo for your onward journey home.
The most unusual and enlightening safari to a truly special landscape that has escaped change over the centuries. Stunning colours, dramatic, unspoilt and what a joy to be out under the stars at night in a deset and marvel at the enormity of the sky above.
Adrian Holmsworth, February 2019
Reasons to visit
The sea surrounding Socotra is teamed with life – turtles, leaping dolphins and whales. Located at the crossroads of several biogeographic provinces, the islands and surrounding marine region include species from the western Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, East Africa and the greater Indo-Pacific. Socotra is an ideal scuba diving and snorkelling location, boasting coral reefs rich with marine life, old wrecks perfect for exploring and visibility generally ranging from 10-40 metres.
Fishing off Socotra is a unique experience for wild fishing anglers, with excellent popping, vertical jigging, light spinning and fly-fishing. Socotra may be considered one of the best wild destinations for GT (Giant Trevally) anywhere, with an average weight of more than 40 kg and often up to 60 kg.
Since it was first surveyed by UN biologists in 1997, Socotra has been considered one of the most biologically diverse and distinct places on Earth. Its isolation has blessed it with an array of unique birds, reptiles, trees and plants. A third of Socotra’s 825 plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world.
Socotra has many caves, more than 50, but the most famous and biggest is Hoq cave. After a walk of about one hour through some magnificent scenery, ascending 350m, you reach the mouth of the cave and vistas of the azure sea.
Socotra has a number of stunning palm-tree lined wadis with refreshing pools, including Wadi Dirhur, Sirhin, Kalesan and Ayhaft. Most of these can be explored by canyoning, on foot, or simply enjoyed during a luxurious picnic and afternoon swim in the natural pools.
White Sandy Beaches
There are countless enchanting white sand beaches to discover, many with majestic sand dunes, scattered around the coastal circumference and one is quite literally spoiled for choice. These include Socotra’s highest sand dunes, fresh water streams and hot springs at Arher, the isolated and pristine Shuab Beach, only accessible by boat, with its excellent marine life spotting and fishing opportunities and finally Delisha and Kalansiya beaches.