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Socotra is an island in  the Indian Ocean that is a territory of Yemen. Socotra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its biodiversity. There are 700 endemic species (i.e., can’t be found anywhere else), which is third after Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands.

The first airport on the island opened in 1999. In 1999, there were 140 people that visited and has since increased to 2,500 in 2007.

Unique Flora/Fauna in Socotra

Dragon’s Blood Tree

Socotra - Dragon Blood Tree

 

 

 

 

 

Desert Rose

socotra - desert rose

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumber Tree

socotra - cucumber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When to go to Socotra?

Best time to go is October until Late-April/Mid-May
Monsoon seasons runs from June until mid-September (however, this is the best time for windsurfing)

How to get to Socotra?

You will need to go through one of the ports of entry in Yemen, which are Sana’a, Aden, Ta’izz, Al Mukalla and Hodeid International Airports.

As a result, it is not possible to bypass the mainland of Yemen and go straight to Socotra.

What to do?

All operations will begin from the airport location of Hadibo.

These two maps will give you a sense of where are the different attractions that are listed below:

Socotra-map socotra_map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top attractions include the following places:

  • Dixam Plateau (Most popular – location of Dragon Blood Trees)
  • Hoq Cave (3 hours according to one review – one hour up, one hour in cave, and one hour down)
  • Primary Beaches: Shoab (aka Shouab or Shuaabh – reached by boat from Qalansiya) and Qalansiya – most popular beaches
  • Homhil (Bottle trees and frankincense)
  • Wadi Dirhur (aka Wadi Daerhu Canyon) – It is also possible swim in natural ponds

Other popular attractions include:

  • Snorkeling / Scuba Diving in Dihamri
  • Secondary Beaches: Aomak or Ras Ersel were also listed as popular beaches
  • Primary Sand Dunes: Climb the Erher Sand Dune (Arrive 1 hour before sunset and watch the colors change)
  • Secondary Sand Dunes: Climb Hayf and Zahik dunes
  • Detwah Lagoon
  • Ayhaft National Park

If willing to travel outside of Socotra (probably lot more dangerous), one of the main attractions in Yemen is the Al Hajarah Walled City.

From comparing the different itineraries, the shortest that one can spend in Socotra and see the main highlights is 4 days where the 4th day is the day of departure.  This will cost $300 – $500 dollars.

The maximum time that I saw in Socotra was 10 days, but 7 days does seem to be the more common (long itinerary). The 7 day tour can range from $650 to $900.

The seven days itineraries will give you more time at Shoab beach and more time exploring the different environments. For example, the seven day tour allows you to explore Ayhaft National Park and visit Dihamri where the opportunity exists to go snorkeling/diving. The cost is nominally higher for longer tour. If I have extra vacation time, I would make it a week long adventure.

 

Cost of Renting Car:

In 2007, it would cost $250 to $350 for four days for a driver and truck.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/25/travel/tmagazine/03well.socotra.t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Tour Groups (Highly Rated)

  • Eco Socotra
  • Socotra Eco Tours
  • Toyemen (toyemen.com)

 Other Important Pieces of Information

According to person, you can’t buy airline tickets online. You need to purchase them through agency.

Interesting articles on Socotra:

http://www.socotra-eco-tours.com/products/socotra-tourist-highlights/
http://www.socotradream.com/wordpress/?page_id=61