Trip to Socotra with tour extension to Sana'a in Yemen

February 2014

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Socotra travel itinerary
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| Socotra travelogue and Socotra pictures
| Sana'a travelogue and Sana'a pictures
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Where is Socotra?

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This trip review focuses on a tour to Socotra exploring for two full weeks this small island located between the Arabic Sea and the Indian Ocean. A short extension to Sana'a, in Yemen's mainland, is also included.


Socotra is a small island that broke away from the main continent, moving gradually away towards the Indian Ocean. Similarly to the Galapagos and Madagascar (just to name a few examples) the isolation of Socotra compared to mainland, has allowed the evolution of endemic plant species that can not be found anywhere else on the planet, like the beautiful Dracena cinnabari. Also other plants actually present in East Africa, such as the Adenium obesum, in Socotra assumes dimensions out of the ordinary, deserving to be classified into a dedicate sub-specie (Adenium obesum subsp. socotranum). But the endemic flora of Socotra is not the only reason that drives travelers to get so far: in fact Socotra has also beautiful beaches that often culminate in huge sand dunes or, for trekking lovers, the island also offers the opportunity to discover the fascinating landscapes of the central mountain range, where you can immerse yourself in the simple and hard life of the shepherds taking advantage of high altitude pastures.


How to arrive in Socotra? At the time of writing this Socotra trip review in March 2014, Yemenia has one flight per week (every Monday) to and from Sana'a, with a stopover in Riyan/Mukalla (Yemen). Yemenia may offers the opportunity to purchase the entire flight from your country to Socotra in a single ticket in cooperation with other airlines (usually Egyptair) but for this solution, you should consult your travel agent, as usually this ticket can not be purchased online. Alternatively, Felix Airways offers several weekly flights from Sana'a to Socotra via Riyan/Mukalla or Aden, but not allowing to buy the ticket as a single package with flights to and from your country (therefore, in case of any problem with connecting flights, the passenger would be responsible for additional costs). Felix Airways offers also a weekly flight to Socotra via Riyan/Mukalla from Sahrjah, an airport about 30 minutes by taxi from Dubai. We recommend however to always check the latest information about flights to Socotra, as they are often modified.

Update January 2018 - Due to an ongoing confict in Yemen, most scheduled flights to the country have been suspended and the airports closed. There is apparently no easy way to get to Yemen and to Socotra during this very difficult and sad time for the entire country.


Would you like to go to Socotra? If you wish to arrange a tour in Socotra, you may just contact one of the many tour operators in your country who sells this destination. However, as a result of the various travel advisories issued by Western governments (in my opinion a bit exaggerated, at least according to the conditions found in February 2014 ), it may happen that not all the tour operators are able to confirm travel to Socotra. A great alternative is therefore to contact a travel agency in Socotra that can organize the trip of your dreams on this beautiful island, based on your interests and your available time. Generally, the tour operator in Socotra provides you with one or more 4x4 cars depending on the number of passengers, drivers, guides, meals, and everything you need to sleep in a tent if you chose this option for overnight stays. If you are traveling alone there is no problem, except a little bit higher price, because the fixed costs can't be split over multiple passengers. For my tour to Socotra I've contacted Socotra Socotra Dream Tours who, as explained above, has provided the whole logistics according to my preferred route.


If your flights to Socotra includes long layover time in Sana'a and you don't want to wait all the time in the small (and certainly not "comfortable") airport of this city, you might consider a short tour in Sana'a, maybe resting even a few hours in a typical Yemeni hotel (such as Arabia Felix) before continuing your journey to or from Socotra. Actually this beautiful city, not to mention the rest of Yemen, deserves much more than a short day trip and I must say that, in contrast to the many negative travel advisories often issued for Yemen, I've never felt myself in danger and I met only very kind people. If you want to arrange a trip to Sana'a, as well as a complete tour in Yemen, you may contact Al Mamoon International Tours, who can arrange transfers from Sana'a airport, guides and overnight stays as required.


As the island is an eco-tourist destination, with wonderful beaches to enjoy in tranquility and beautiful scenery to admire, you may ask yourself what is the best season to go to Socotra, which ensures stable weather and pleasant temperatures while swimming at the beach or hiking in the mountains. The best time to visit Socotra runs approximately from January to mid-April, preferring a late tour if you want to see the seasonal blooms of the Socotra's endemic plants (therefore from late February onwards). In May, the climate in Socotra starts to become hot, making the treks too strenuous, while from June to September there is a constantly blowing strong wind that makes some parts of the island inaccessible. The rainy season in Socotra runs from October to about mid-December. Obviously these details about climate in Socotra are only a guideline and may have significant variations from year to year.


If you are dreaming a trip to Socotra, but are worried about the security alerts in Yemen that are often issued on the websites of Western governments, I can say that during my stay in Socotra I never felt in danger, indeed, I personally consider Socotra safer than most European countries (including France or Italy) as the crime virtually unknown throughout the island, with extremely friendly and hospitable people who are just curious to meet you and share their culture with you. If your concerns about safety during a trip to Socotra is in regards to the stopovers in Yemen, it is actually possible to arrange the flights with only a few hours of waiting time at the airport (see how to get to Socotra previously discussed). In any case, even during the 15 hours spent in Sana'a, including a short tour of the fantastic Old City and a nap at Arabia Felix hotel before catching the connecting flight, I did not have any particular type of problem or perception of danger. And Sana'a is SO beautiful! Do not miss it! If your concern is instead related to the medical and evacuation insurance, as many insurance companies do not cover countries for some reason considered politically "at risk", you might consider purchasing a policy with First Allied Travel Insurance that covers optionally any country of the world, including countries with potential political issues.

Update January 2018 - Due to an ongoing confict in Yemen, there are safety concerns throughout the country, with further warnings about cholera and other diseases. There is apparently no easy way to get to Yemen and to Socotra during this very difficult and sad time for the entire country.

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Deleisha beach Excursions in Socotra near the capital Hadibo to Deleisha beach and Dihamri <<-- GO
I take advantage of the half day after arriving in Socotra, to visit the beautiful Deleisha beach not far from the capital of Socotra Hadibo. A further day trip a few days later leads me to Dihamri where is possible to snorkel among the coral or enjoy the beautiful landscape.
Dracena cinnabari Day tour in Socotra among Dracena cinnabari and wonderful landscapes <<-- GO
The Dracena cinnabari is a plant endemic to Socotra and except in some botanical garden, it can't be found in any other part of the world. Symbol of Socotra, is also called "dragon blood tree" for the color of its resin. I visit the Firmin forest and the Dixam plateau where there are thousands of Dracena cinnabari.
Wadi Druher Excursions to Wadi Druher canyon in the natural pools and to Oamak beach <<-- GO
The bottom of the Wadi Druher canyon contains a beautiful natural swimming pool of emerald green waters, while the walls of the canyon seen many Adenium obesum and cucumber trees, which make it a unique place. The tour ends on Aomak beach between its low dunes.
Hagger mountains Trekking to Socotra on Hagger mountains discovering many endemic plants <<-- GO
A trek to Socotra near Mount Skand along the chain of Hagger mountains, allows you to discover the home of many endemic plants of Socotra. Here you can also meet shepherds who live in remote mountain huts of stone, in very harsh conditions.
Socotra Trekking to Homhil in Socotra among Adenium obesum and cucumber trees <<-- GO
Homhil in Socotra is very interesting from a botanical point of view, as it hosts thousands of Adenium obesum socotranum, many Dracena cinnabari, some cucumber trees, as well as numerous rare succulent plants endemic to Socotra.
Hoq caves Trek to Hoq caves in Socotra and relax on deserted beaches of Arabian Sea <<-- GO
Hoq caves in Socotra are within a few hours of easy trekking and are very interesting because you can enjoy them "as they are", without any artificial lights installed inside and no other tourists. After the long walk, what could be better than a swim along a deserted beach, such as Ras Ersel or Arher?
Momi plateau Excursion to Momi in Socotra and Wadi Kalysan canyon with natural pools <<-- GO
The Momi plateau is home to a large population of Adenium obesum and other endemic plants of Socotra (including succulent plants) that can be found during a pleasant trek to the canyon below, which contains also many natural pools where you can relax and have a bath.
Beach in Socotra Excursions to Socotra among the beautiful beaches of the southern shores <<-- GO
The south coast of Socotra, among the Indian Ocean, sees a number of huge beaches where there are no other tourists, dominated by breathtaking landscapes that include big sand dunes formed by strong summer monsoon winds, and rugged coast line.
Arabic sea in Socotra The most beautiful beach in the world? It is Qalansiya in Socotra, of course! <<-- GO
Qalansiya beach in Socotra, with the adjoining Detwah lagoon, is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world that I had a chance to visit during my travels. Furthermore, an half day trip by boat allows you to see the dolphins and visit discover the other beautiful beach of Shouab.
Camping in Socotra How is the life as tourist in Socotra? How is a typical day on the island? <<-- GO
After seeing so many photos of Socotra, perhaps you are wondering about how a typical day is during a tour to Socotra: where you eat? Where you sleep and how you move? On this page you will find information about daily life during a trip to Socotra.
Sana'a Tour to Sana'a one of the world's most beautiful and ancient city <<-- GO
By properly optimizing the sequence of flights to get to Socotra (or coming back to your home) you can take a day tour to Sana'a between the connecting flights. Sana'a is a wonderful place and the Old City is an UNESCO site, certainly deserving more that a few hours tour: so, if you can, plan more time in the city!

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