Yemen · April - November
Socotra Highlights Expeditions
The Best of SocotraVIEW DATES
This 8 day Socotra Island expedition may hit all the highlights but it’s no ordinary trip. Taking in the best and most beautiful the island has to offer, this itinerary will introduce you to Socotra’s famed endemic plants, give a glimpse into Socotri life, and the opportunity to see some of the island’s coolest spots. This is an adventurous Socotra itinerary, meaning you will be camping each night, many of which you won’t have access to showers- but trust me it’s worth it.
Wandering Forests of Dragon Blood Trees
Socotra's most iconic and famous sight is the unusual endemic dragon blood tree. The Firhmin Forest is home to the largest population of them in the world.
Explore Socotra's Wild Beaches
Socotra's beaches are among the most beautiful and empty the world over, many fringed by craggy cliffsides and mountainous dunes.
Sit in a Natural Infinity Pool
Enjoy panoramic views from a naturally formed rock pool overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Journey Toward the Center of the Earth
Home to many caves, wander between stalactites and stalagmites in the massive Hoq Cave.
Hadiboh | Homhil Protected Area
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 making the drive 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.
In the afternoon spend your time checking out the interesting plant life around and taking a much-needed swim in the Homhil pool that overlooks the Arabian Sea.
Homhil Protected Area | Arher | Ras Erissel
Today we get an early start and trek down from Homhil to a village on the coast where your 4WD awaits to take you to the sugary white sand dunes of Arher.
In the afternoon, explore the areas further east around Ras Erissel before heading back to your camp at Arher where you can climb to the top of the mountainous dunes to catch an unbelievable sunset.
Arher | Hoq Cave | Di Hamri Marine Area
For those ambitious, catch the sunrise from atop Arher Dune before breakfast. From here we’ll continue toward the massive Hoq Cave. We will get dropped off near a village from which we will make the approximately two hour trek uphill and into the mouth of the cave.
Once to the mouth of Hoq Cave, we will continue our walk roughly 1.5 kilometers into the earth. Make sure to bring a headlamp or torch to see the impressive stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations. Once we’ve finished exploring the cave it’s time to make the jaunt back down to the village and continue onto Di Hamri.
Di Hamri, meaning ‘two rocks’ in Socotri is named after the impossible-to-miss double-red rocky outcropping that sits adjacent to the wide coral-filled bay. Spend the afternoon snorkeling in Socotra’s main marine protected area in search of parrotfish, turtles, sharks, and more.
Di Hamri | Dixsam Plateau | Wadi Dirhur
From Di Hamri we pick up camp and make way toward Socotra’s central highlands on the Dixsam Plateau. Here you’ll have the opportunity to wander amongst some the largest and oldest dragon blood trees on Socotra.
In the afternoon, we’ll make a trip down into Wadi Dirhur and take a short trek along the valley floor to a small chain of pools before heading back up onto the plateau for the night.
For those interested in stargazing, the Dixsam Plateau is one of the best places on Socotra Island for viewing the stars- even better if viewed with the silhouette of a Dixsam dragon.
Dixsam Plateau | Firhmin Forest | Omaq Beach | Zahek Dunes
Catch the sunrise over the dragon blood trees of Dixsam Plateau before taking a ride back down into Wadi Dirhur and back up the other side and into the 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, continue south to Socotra’s Indian Ocean Coast to your camp at blinding white Omaq Beach. In the late afternoon head to nearby Zahek Dunes
Omaq Beach | Dagub Cave | Detwah Lagoon
After breakfast, depart Omaq Beach to explore the cavernous Dagub Cave briefly before taking a jaunt back across the island and to the northeast to reach the idyllic Detwah Lagoon.
In Detwah spend the afternoon relaxing in the most turquoise waters, get in on a game of football with some local teens, or maybe catch the well-known Abdullah the Caveman who may take you out to explore around the lagoon.
Detwah Lagoon | Qalansiya | Shua’ab Beach
After an early breakfast, make the short drive to the second-largest town on Socotra of Qalansiya. From the beach in Qalansiya we will load up into local dhow fishing boats and cruise along Socotra’s rugged western coast down to the impossibly white sands of Shua’ab Beach. Keep your eyes peeled as you leave Qalansiya for jumping spinner dolphins who frequent the area.
After a perfect final beach day in Socotra, head back for Qalansiya in the early afternoon (the waters around here get notoriously rough later in the day) and then enjoy your final sunset and dinner back at Detwah Lagoon.
Detwah Lagoon | Hadiboh Airport
Following breakfast, you will be dropped off at Hadiboh Airport to catch your flight to Abu Dhabi to continue your journey home (or elsewhere).
Meals as noted on itinerary
Camping equipment (tent, blanket, sleeping mat)
Yemeni visa fee
English-speaking local guide
What's Not Included
Airfare to/from Socotra
UAE visa fees (if applicable)
Discretionary tips for local staff
Your guides for Socotra
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.
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.
Extras & Options
Is Socotra Safe?
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.
What Is The Difficulty Level Of This Socotra Expedition?
This 8 Day Socotra 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.
Where are the Start & End Points on this Expedition?
This 8 Day Socotra 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.
How do I get to Socotra?
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.
What are the Entry Requirements for Yemen?
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.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Socotra?
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.
Do I Need Travel Insurance To Join A Socotra Expedition?
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.
What Currency Is Used In Socotra & How Can I Pay For Things On The Island?
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.
Is There A Socotra Packing List & Prep Guide?
Yes, we do provide a suggested packing list and preparation guide for Socotra expeditions that can be viewed here.
Where Will I Sleep?
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.
What Is The Food Like & Can You Accommodate Dietary Restrictions?
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.
What Should I Wear In Socotra?
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.
Will I Have Internet Access & Electricity?
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.
Are There Any Items I Cannot Bring to Socotra?
Alcohol and illicit substances are not allowed in Yemen.
Are There Any Restrictions On Who Can Visit Socotra?
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.
How Much Time Will We Spend In The Car?
You can expect to spend 1-4 hours in the car each day of this Socotra expedition. There are a couple of tarmacked roads on the island connecting Qalansiya to Hadiboh, as well as the south coast and the Dixsam Plateau to Hadiboh. Outside of these areas, you can expect dirt roads and 4x4 jeep tracks in varying conditions.
Is There a Minimum Number of Participants Necessary for the Expedition to Run?
Yes, a minimum of 3 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.
"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."
"My wife and I travelled to Socotra with Safar Expeditions and it was an incredible experience. The island is stunning and spending time there was a real privilege. Although anyone visiting should be prepared for fairly basic conditions (there are no hotels outside the city, so it's wild camping all round), we felt very comfortable in the tents provided by the team and the food was excellent. They also safely navigated some pretty tricky roads and were really flexible, allowing us to get the most out of our trip. Nicole, who led the expedition, was particularly helpful before and during the trip, helping to make everything as hassle free as it could be andthe trip as amazing as it was. All in all, would highly recommend travelling with Safar. We certainly hope to go back to Socotra with them at some point!"