The secret of eternal life shouldn’t be something that’s easy to stumble across and by cleverly hiding it out on Socotra the gods have certainly taken that thought to heart. At 3650 sq km Socotra is easily the largest Yemeni island and traditionally one of the most inaccessible. Lying 510km southeast of the mainland, the island has developed in near total isolation from the rest of the world. Rumoured to have once been a refuge for dragons and the Phoenix, it continues to provide a refuge for all manner of extraordinary fauna and flora, much of which is found nowhere else. Because of the number of its endemic plants and creatures, it’s been described as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’. While this is a little optimistic, there is no denying that Socotra is a unique and otherworldly island. It’s the kind of place where people speak a language unknown to anyone else, where the knowledge of how to make fire by rubbing sticks together is still common and where the elderly recall days when money didn’t exist. – Lonely Planet
SOCOTRA & MAINLAND YEMEN
with Jeremy Woodhouse & Luka Esenko
(14 days/13 nights), maximum group size 7
Pre-tour Fri April 17 - Fly from USA to Cairo
Day 1: Cairo
Today we spend a relaxing day in Cairo where you can relax and begin to get over jet lag
Day 2: Cairo - Socotra - Qalansiya
Transfer to the airport for our flight from Cairo to Socotra. Upon your arrival at Socotra airport you will meet our local guide who will escort us to Qalansiya, a 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.
O/N Hotel Qalansiya, BLD
Day 3: Qalansiya
We will spend the whole day photographing life around Qalansiya – this includes the fishing village, the town, and the amazingly beautiful coastal landscapes.
O/N Hotel Qalansiya, BLD
Day 4: Qalansyia - Dixam Plateau
Early morning excursion to Shoab Beach. We pick up our boat at near the hotel and we will 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. Drive to Dixam Plateau.
O/N Camp, Dixam
Day 5: Dixam Plateau
Day hike to the Forest of Firmahin (optional – strenuous hike) which contains more that 3 million dragons blood trees. En-route we will stop at a swimming hole to eat lunch and cool off. Those who would prefer to stay at the Wadi may while those wishing to continue to Firmahin will do so.
O/N Camp, Dixam
Day 6: Dixam Plateau – Aomak Dunes
After spending the morning photographing on the plateau, we will take an afternoon trip to the dunes at Aomak. 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. We will return to camp after sunset.
O/N Camp, Dixam
Day 7: Dixam Plateau - Homhil
After our morning shoot 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.
O/N Camp, Homhil
Day 8: Homhil - Arher
After an early breakfast, we can walk a selection of trails, 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 Dragon's 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. We will photograph sunset at Ras Irsal Beach.
O/N Camp at Arher
Day 9: Arher - Hadibo
Arher area. Drive to Hadibo.
O/N Habeeb's Lodge
Day 10: Hadibo
Our final day will be spent in and around the town of Hadibo. We will visit the fish market in the morning as the fishermen bring in their catch to be sold at auction. An amazing sight. In the afternoon we will explore the coastline looking for scenic landscape opportunities.
O/N Habeeb's Lodge
Day 11: Socotra to Cairo
After an early breakfast, we will transfer to Socotra airport for the flight to back to Cairo
Average Weather in February at Socotra Yemen
Daily high temperatures are around 83°F, rarely falling below 80°F or exceeding 86°F.
Daily low temperatures are around 73°F, rarely falling below 71°F or exceeding 76°F.
For reference, on May 22, the hottest day of the year, temperatures at Socotra typically range from 81°F to 93°F, while on January 28, the coldest day of the year, they range from 73°F to 82°F.
7 SPOTS OPEN
Tour Cost: $TBA
After completing a scouting tour to Yemen and Socotra in January 2014 we have decided to try and run this tour again in January and February of 2022 when the weather should be really pleasant, more stable with less wind so we are hoping to get some great seascapes and landscapes as well.
Each tour is limited to 7 participants plus two photography leaders (Jeremy Woodhouse and Luka Esenko) to enable better flexibility and ease of travel. We will have full board throughout the tour. On Socotra island we will be staying at basic campsites, but will have a generator for charging.
On the Yemeni mainland we have added a visit Hudaydah fishing market which is located on the Red Sea coast. This should be one of the highlights for people photography.
Tour Price Includes
- Airport pick up / drop off
- All land travel including 3 Land Cruisers and 1 pickup (to carry extra bags, equipment)
- Driver and petrol costs
- English speaking guide
- Travel permits and entrance fees
- All accommodation (hotels including Burj al Salam hotel four star in Sana’a and Hudaydah and camping)
- All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- Treks on Socotra and in the mountains with local guides
- Boat trip on Socotra to Shoub Beach from Qalansyia
- Camping equipment for Socotra
- Round trip tickets to / from Socotra
Tour Price Excludes
- meals not mentioned in itinerary
On the mainland we will be staying at Burj Salam hotel (Sana’a) and at Al-Aqil hotel (Manakha). In Socotra, 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.
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 our own sleeping bag. Make sure it’s light enough as temperatures on Socotra will be warm.