Yemen · February 18 - 28 2025

11 Day Socotra Outer Islands Expedition

Explore the Outliers of the Socotra Archipelago

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Overview

The outer islands of the Socotra Archipelago are an adventurous foray that few dare to visit, but those that make the venture will be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime experience to these desertic gems in the Guardafui Channel about halfway between mainland Yemen and Somalia. This 11 day Socotra Outer Island Expedition will take a small group to explore the largest island of Socotra, in addition to the islands of Abd al Kuri, Samha, and Darsa. This is a truly intrepid Socotra itinerary, involving traveling by fishing boat to the outer islands of the archipelago, camping on wild beaches, and exploring parts nearly unknown to the outside world.

Highlights

Socotra Island

Socotra Island

Take some time to see the best of what the famed Socotra has to offer including forests of dragon blood trees and beautiful beaches.

Abd al Kuri

Abd al Kuri

Welcome to the most far flung island of the Socotra Archipelago- Abd al Kuri. This is is the largest of the outer islands and we'll have the opportunity to visit several villages.

Samha

Samha

Inhabited by a small population of fishing families all living in one small valley that spills out to the sea, Samha is an unusual place. Take the opportunity to trek to Samha's hinterland to try and find its endemic begonia.

Darsa

Darsa

Nicknamed 'rat' island due to the population of them that lives here, coming out at night to feast on bird eggs, Darsa is completely uninhabited by humans and home to some of the most beautiful and secluded beaches the world over.

Socotra's Sea Stacks

Socotra's Sea Stacks

Although we can't make landings at them, Socotra's Sea Stacks are known for their birdlife. We'll pass near to Sabuniya on our way from Qalansiya and get to see Kal Firun in the distance as we approach Abd al Kuri.

Itinerary

Previous

Next

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Hadiboh | Detwah Lagoon

Day 1

Be met by your local Socotri guide on arrival at Socotra International Airport. Collect your bags, go through formalities, and head into the main town of Hadiboh. Here you will have an early lunch before driving to Detwah Lagoon.

In Detwah, we'll spend the afternoon relaxing on the powdery white beach and even take some time to explore around the lagoon. Tonight, we'll camp on the beach, getting an early night in order to be rested for the journey ahead.

Included

Lunch

Dinner

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Qalansiya | Abd al Kuri

Day 2

Today we will get up before dawn and make the short drive to the nearby fishing town Socotra of Qalansiya. From the beach in Qalansiya, we will load up into local dhow fishing boats that will shuttle our crew, gear, and passengers to the larger boat we will be spending the next few days on. 

Once we take off, we'll enjoy breakfast as we begin the odyssey to the outer islands of Socotra. A couple of hours after we depart Qalansiya we'll pass the sea stack of Sabuniya, teeming with birdlife.

Depending on sea conditions, the journey to Abd al Kuri can take between 6 and 12 hours, so we should arrive at the outermost island between late afternoon and evening. 

Tonight we'll be spent camping on a long, white sand beach.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Abd al Kuri

Day 3

Today will be spent exploring the 32 kilometer long island of Abd al Kuri. The island is extremely arid and features several villages connected by a rough dirt track. 

We'll load up in a truck and make our way to the other end of Abd al Kuri, visiting small villages with lovely locals and friendly kids. Today also features a short hike to a cluster of the endemic Euphorbia abdalkuri that grows nowhere else on earth, not even the other islands of the archipelago.

Just before sunset, we will return back to our camp for the night.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Abd al Kuri | Samha

Day 4

Getting up before sunrise, we will pack up camp and get back on the boat, having another breakfast at sea. By midday, we should arrive on the island of Samha, getting shuttled into the main village by a local dhow boat.

After a quick lunch, we will set off for a trek into Samha's hinterland, which is crowned by a mesa-like mountain right in the center of the island. 

We will be on the lookout for Samha's famed endemics, the Begonia samhaensis and the Pelargonium insularis, as make our way to Samha's inland. Tonight we will set up camp in Samha's rugged interior.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Samha

Day 5

Today is another day of adventuring in Samha, continuing to look for the Begonia samhaensis and Pelargonium insularis if we didn't find them the day prior. We'll also try to get out to some remote beaches, before we make our trek back to the village, where we'll plan to camp in the schoolyard for the night.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Samha | Darsa | Detwah

Day 6

Early in the morning, we will load up on our boat once again, this time with a local dhow in tow, bound for Darsa.

We'll have breakfast onboard and arrive in Darsa in the mid-morning. The local dhow will shuttle us onto Darsa from offshore. We will have most of the day to explore the wild cave-backed beaches of Darsa's coast and hike around the island while bird-watching.

In the afternoon, we'll make our way back to Qalansiya where we'll unload from our outer island adventure and make way for our camp in Detwah Lagoon.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Dixsam | Dixsam | Firhmin Forest

Day 7

After breakfast, we'll head westward toward Socotra's interior to get a chance to wander among the island's most famous character- the dragon blood tree. We will first arrive to the Dixsam Plateau, known for its massive umbrella-like dragon blood trees.

After some time exploring Dixsam, we will continue down into Wadi Dirhur and then up the other side of the canyon to the fabled Firhmin Forest.

Firhmin Forest is home to the densest population of dragon blood trees on Socotra, and therefore, the world. It’s estimated that there are over 9,000 dragon blood trees in this forest.

Once you’ve had your fix on the most famous of Socotra’s endemics we will set up camp in a clearing in the forest, sleeping among the dragons tonight.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Firhmin Forest | Homhil

Day 8

After breakfast, depart the Firhmin Forest and make our way to Homhil Protected Area. 

Homhil is home to a scattering of Socotra’s fascinating endemics including the famed Dragon blood tree, bottle trees, and frankincense trees. Meander among these rare plant species and to a natural infinity pool that you undoubtedly have to see to believe.

Tonight, camp under the stars and among bottle trees.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Homhil | Arher

Day 9

Today we get an early start and trek down from Homhil to a village on the coast where our vehicles await to take us to the sugary white sand dunes of Arher.

In the afternoon, explore the areas of Socotra's east before heading back to your camp at Arher where you can climb to the top of the mountainous dunes to catch an unbelievable sunset.

Tonight, camp under the stars in Arher.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Arher | Hoq Cave | Erissel

Day 10

Getting a start just before sunrise, we will travel a short distance down the road to the village of Terbak to begin our trek up to Hoq Cave.

A roughly two hour hike will bring the group to the massive opening to Hoq, where we will put on headlamps and head deep inside the humongous cave, wandering amongst stalactites and stalagmites. 

Once we've explore Hoq all the way to it's underground lake, we'll make our way back to Terbak. This afternoon, we will have for exploring other sites around Socotra's east, before heading back to our final night of camping at Arher.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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Arher | Hadiboh Airport

Day 11

Following breakfast, you will be dropped off at Hadiboh Airport to catch your flight to Abu Dhabi to continue your journey home (or elsewhere).

Included

Breakfast

What's included

What's Included

Meals as noted on itinerary

Camping equipment (tent, blanket, sleeping mat)

Yemeni visa fee

4WD transport

English-speaking local guide

Entry fees

Transport by boat to the outer islands

Abu Dhabi-Socotra-Abu Dhabi Airfare

UAE visa fees (if applicable)

Travel insurance

Personal spending

Tips for local staff

Hosts

Your guides for Socotra

Nicole Smoot

Nicole Smoot

Expedition Lead


Despite being born and raised in the mountains of Alaska with plenty of backyard adventures that could have kept her busy for a lifetime, the unusual dragon blood trees of Socotra, the truly bizarre landscapes of Iran’s far-flung Sistan and Balochistan Province, the gingerbread-house-like architecture of Sana’a, and the dazzling turquoise lakes of Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains lured Nicole to the other side of the planet and on to get to know these locations extremely well. 

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Sami Ali

Sami Ali

Socotra Expert | Flora Specialist


Born and raised in a village perched on the edge of Socotra Island's Qaria Lagoon, Sami eventually made his way to Hadiboh. He began guiding on the island in his late teens, where he gained his interest in his home island's unique endemic plant species. Sami went on to attain a bachelor's degree in forestry from Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic to further dial in his expertise on Socotra's biodiversity. After which, he returned back to Socotra to guide full-time.

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Next Departures

11 Day Socotra Outer Islands Expedition (Including Abu Dhabi-Socotra-Abu Dhabi Airfare)

11 Day Socotra Outer Islands Expedition (Including Abu Dhabi-Socotra-Abu Dhabi Airfare)

Explore the Outliers of the Socotra Archipelago

FROM$4,830.00/pp

BOOK NOW

FAQs

Despite being part of Yemen, territorially speaking, Socotra is a safe destination. In fact, there has never been an incident involving a tourist on the island. The biggest risks you would face as a tourist in Socotra are injuries sustained while out on a trek or in the sea. There is a risk of getting stuck in Socotra longer than planned in the event the flights in or out are delayed or canceled, more so if traveling in the June-September season. 


While there is the risk of piracy in the waters around Socotra, it's incredibly rare. We are required to travel with security on our way to and from the outer islands and our team makes assessments prior to and during the crossing.

This 11 Day Socotra Outer Islands Expedition is rated as moderately difficult and rugged. This means that we will be tent camping throughout this expedition and sleeping in primitive campsites. Not all campsites have showers or toilets, so can be a bit uncomfortable for some. In terms of physicality, you can expect hikes of 1-3 hours in length on several days.

This 11 Day Socotra Outer Islands Expedition will begin and end at the Hadiboh Airport on Socotra. The flight to and from Socotra will depart from and return to Abu Dhabi, UAE. 


Alternatively, there is a flight that starts and ends in Cairo but requires a plane change in Mainland Yemen.

Air Arabia provides a flight from Abu Dhabi to Socotra on Tuesdays, however, it isn't possible to book this ticket online as it is a charter flight. Get in contact and we will facilitate the booking process.

To join any Safar Expeditions departure you will need to carry an active travel insurance plan. Be aware that Socotra is a remote island with limited healthcare infrastructure which can pose very real challenges in the event of a medical emergency or serious injury or illness.


We recommend that travelers purchase their travel insurance through IATI travel insurance and seriously consider purchasing an emergency evacuation plan from Global Rescue


Prescription and even some over-the-counter medications can be difficult to find in Socotra, so make sure to bring any meds you need or may need with you. Even though Socotra is a safe place to visit, travelers should also exercise caution when participating in activities. These could include trekking, swimming, snorkeling, diving, and any adventure sports.

Nearly all nationalities require a Yemeni visa to travel to Socotra. We will handle the Yemeni visa process for you. All we need is a scan of your passport info page. We will apply for your visa in Socotra and once it is approved we will send you a document of visa approval. This visa approval document should be printed and brought with you to the airport in order to board your flight to Socotra. On arrival in Socotra, this document will be exchanged for a stamp in your passport. We will need approximately 2-3 weeks to get your visa secured for you.

A note to those who may want to utilize the flight from Cairo with the stopovers in Aden and Mukalla: You will need an additional security clearance for transiting the mainland. We will attain this document for you.

Socotra has four distinct seasons, that being said, the optimal time to visit Socotra is between October and April. 


January to April is the dry season, which sees the most stable weather. The island is a bit more arid this time of year, with many of the endemic plants such as the adenium obesum blooming, and is the best time for exploring all over Socotra, especially the coastline. 


May-June sees the arrival of the Khareef season, bringing rains and windier conditions. Flights become more unreliable starting in May and extending until September owing to erratic weather. 


June-September coincides with the windy season. This is a great time to visit for those into canopy sports such as kiteboarding and windsurfing. 


October-December is the rainy season which sees bursts of rain throughout the day with the occasional storm. This is the best time for trekking in the Haggier Mountains, offering to experience Socotra at its most lush and verdant.

Officially the Yemeni Rial is the currency used in Socotra. Note that the Yemeni Rial is quite volatile to fluctuations. The Rial can vary between 500-1500 Rial to the US dollar. 


There are simple money exchange offices in Hadiboh where money can be exchanged for Yemeni Rials. US dollars seem to net the best rates and bills must be new and crisp without any markings, folds, tears, etc. You may want to exchange a small amount into Rials on arrival for smaller purchases on the island as people are starting to sell more handicrafts around Socotra and for little purchases such as snacks. In many cases such as these locals will accept small denominations of US dollars. 


Note that there are no ATMs that work with foreign cards anywhere in Socotra and credit cards are not accepted.

Yes, we do provide a suggested packing list and preparation guide for Socotra expeditions that can be viewed here.

This is a camping-style expedition and we will move camps each night. Three-season tents are provided for each guest that we use as singles, however, couples are welcome to share one tent. Blankets and sleeping mats are also provided. Many travelers prefer to bring a sleeping bag liner from home to sleep with, which can be useful on nights we camp in the mountains. 

Local Socotri cuisine is simple yet delicious and features a lot of fresh seafood, especially fish. For breakfast, expect Yemeni-style flatbread, eggs, a variety of spreads, and sometimes beans. For lunch and dinner rice or noodles, a veggie curry, and fish are common. Sometimes goat and even chicken may be served too. Of course, in Yemeni fashion, every meal is accompanied by shai (tea). 


Please let us know of any dietary restrictions or allergies in advance so that we can accommodate your needs. 

Socotra is a conservative place, that said, Socotris are accustomed to seeing foreign tourists, so it is not as strict as other Islamic destinations. 


While at beaches, swimsuits/bikinis and swim trunks are fine, and shorts are perfectly okay when trekking in the mountains. In towns and villages, dressing modestly is the best practice. 


While visiting towns and villages women should wear clothing that covers from shoulders to ankles, so trousers and a T-shirt or a maxi dress (though not sleeveless) are great options. Headscarves for female travelers, while not required, are very welcomed by the locals. Keeping a sarong handy is also useful to throw on over shorts, over shoulders, or as a head covering. 


In towns and villages, men are okay to wear shorts that at least cover the knee and T-shirts. Tank tops or going shirtless in public is in poor taste.

It's best to plan to log off during your visit to Socotra. Internet is slow in Socotra, with 3G being about as fast as it gets. Mobile internet is only operational in a handful of places around the island. Cell phone service is available on Socotra Island but access to the cell network through roaming may vary depending on your carrier. If you have roaming service on your phone plan for UAE or Mainland Yemen, you may be able to access the local internet network but don't count on this. Foreigners can't purchase local SIM cards in Socotra. 


In Socotra don't expect to have access to electricity every day, however, a few of the camps we will stay at will have it. A solar charger and battery banks are handy for this. 

Alcohol and illicit substances are not allowed in Yemen. 

Yemen forbids all Israeli nationals, people born in Israel, and any traveler with proof of travel to Israel in their passports (including border stamps from Egypt and Jordan) from entering the country.

Yes, a minimum of 7 passengers will need to be on this expedition in order to run. If the minimum isn't reached, we will contact you about the potential to still operate the trip but at an additional charge or you will be given the option to cancel and your deposit/payment can either be returned to you or applied toward a different expedition of your choosing.

Reviews

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"We went to Socotra with Nicole in Jan 2023 - starting in Cairo and finishing in Adan. Nicole handled all the details and was wonderfully responsive pre-trip as what are ordinarily simple things like buying airplane tickets are not easy for this itinerary. She handled every detail. This is an incredible trip - we felt very safe traveling as single women. Her relationships with the locals made it an authentic experience. The beauty and magic of Socotra is beyond compare. We have travelled all over the world and this was a highlight."

Leslie

11 Day Socotra Outer Islands Expedition

Yemen · February 18 - 28 2025 · 10 nights

FROM$4,830.00/pp

BOOK NOW