Socotra Tour

socotra tour

About the Socotra Tour

For years, I’d dreamt of going to Socotra island, lauded as “the most alien-looking place on Earth“. Because of the ongoing civil war in Yemen and the limited infrastructure on this remote island, it’s been almost impossible to get to Socotra until now.

I’m extremely excited to have partnered up with a tour operator that is experienced in bringing travelers to hard-to-reach places around the world. They will officially be chartering a whole ship to take us there and back from the Omani port city of Salalah.

Located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Socotra is an ecological wonder of the world. The archipelago is home to a high number of endemic species of flora and fauna: 37% of Socotra’s 825 plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world.

The UNESCO World Heritage site also supports globally significant populations of land and sea birds (192 bird species, 44 of which breed on the islands while 85 are regular migrants), including a number of threatened species. The marine life of Socotra is also very diverse, with 253 species of reef-building corals, 730 species of coastal fish and 300 species of crab, lobster and shrimp.

On this 8-day Socotra trip, we’ll be exploring the main highlights of Socotra: hiking and swimming in the freshwater pools of Ayhaft Canyon National Park, snorkeling in Dihammri Marine Protected Area, driving up to Dixam plateau (700 metres) to the Shebahon viewpoint for a look at the Dragon’s Blood Tree, climbing sand dunes, camping in protected areas, and  spotting spinner dolpins!  The trip will take us into traditional villages, into locals’ homes, and deep into the wild and rugged rural areas of the archipelago.
Socotra tour - dragon's blood spineFlickr image by Rod Waddington

Why Join this Socotra Tour?

Firstly, independent travel to Socotra is close to impossible as it’s extremely hard to get to Socotra without a chartered plane or boat. Currently, it is extremely hard to obtain a tourist visa to Socotra without going through a tour operator. Our operator will be helping you obtain a tourist visa to Socotra for an additional fee of US$120.

Secondly, there aren’t many operators that run trips to Socotra; the few ones that do charge a lot for their tours. This Socotra tour costs US$2,200 for 8 days and includes everything: all accommodation, transport, meals, hikes and local guides. Once you get to Socotra, you won’t need to spend on anything except personal items and souvenirs.

Thirdly, the operator we are traveling with has years of experience bringing travelers to hard-to-reach areas. They have signed an official agreement with the Yemen ambassador to allow us to travel to Socotra. In the past, many Socotra trips have been cancelled because of the lack of flights. By going on a chartered boat, we have a lower chance of getting the trip cancelled at the last minute. Piracy has not been a problem since a joint international naval force started providing protection in 2012. We will have armed guards on board just in case. For those worried about the voyage, the seas are fine in May; they get rough in June/July. That said, this trip is not for everyone, only those who are adventurous at heart.

Lastly, we’ll be experiencing the absolute best of Socotra in a relatively short span of time. The trip will take us through some of the most rugged landscapes, wild coasts and underwater world. We’ll also be doing lots of short hikes in valleys, visiting small villages and getting a glimpse of how locals live. There are options to go scuba diving as well.

BOOK YOUR SPOT BY PAYING $400 DEPOSIT!

Socotra Tour - Homhil Plateau & Arabian SeaFlickr image by Valerian Guillot

What WildJunket Tours Are About:

WildJunket Tours cover territories where few people go to, and explore corners that are not just off the tourist radar, but also culturally rich and historically intriguing.

My trips are all culturally immersive and experiential, allowing us to experience local culture from ground level. We’ll go local, eat at local eateries and stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels. We always have an experienced, local guide to answer any question you may have about the destination.

These trips are fun, exciting adventures that don’t feel like tours. We will travel in small groups (anything from 3 to 9) and the arrangement is informal. We have a rough itinerary but it’s not fixed. There’s plenty of freedom for travelers and it’s all about exploring and learning on these trips. Think of us as a bunch of independent travelers having an adventure together.

Most importantly, we will explore under the surface of a destination and get a feel for it beyond the headlines.

Why Travel with Me

I have over 14 years of experience traveling to some of the wildest and craziest parts of the world. For those who don’t know me, I’m an adventure travel blogger and professional travel writer, with a special knack for off-the-beaten-path travel and unusual destinations.

I’ve been to 120 countries on all 7 continents, and have gone on some crazy adventures including expedition cruising to Antarctica,traversing the Silk Road overland, bungee jumping in New Zealand, traveling undercover in North Korea, and gorilla tracking in Central Africa.

Another bonus for traveling with me is that I’ll be sharing all I know about building a career in travel. If you’re interested in learning about travel blogging or writing, feel free to fire away and ask me for advice in person! I can even teach you a thing or two about finding work in the new digital industry or publishing. I’m always happy to share my experience and personal tips with you along the way.

socotra tour - travel with me

Demand is huge and spaces are limited on our boat so sign up fast! 

Socotra Tour Itinerary

Sunday 6th May – Arrival in Salalah

  • Own arrival in the Southern Omani city of Salalah; the starting point of our cruise to Socotra Island
  • Meeting at our central hotel at a time to be confirmed
  • Head out for our first look at this port city and then dinner of local Omani food, before heading to the Oasis Club for a few drinks.
  • Overnight in Salalah

Monday 7th May – Boarding our Boat

  • After breakfast we head for the old town and check out the Haffa souq local market and the beach
  • Lunch at the Ba’albek café for Lebanese food
  • Free afternoon to explore the Sultanate’s second city and stock up on provisions for the boat ride
  • We board our very own YPT charter ship at 6pm for the overnight sailing to Socotra.
  • Dinner on board but pack your own drinks!

Tuesday 8th May – Swimming and Hiking

  • 9am arrival at Socotra and transfer to Adeeb’s eco-lodge in Hadibo to check in, relax, recuperate and have lunch.
  • After lunch we head to Ayhaft Canyon National Park. Hike in the park and swim in the freshwater pools. The park is renowned for it’s vegetation and birdlife
  • Drive to Delisha beach. Go for another swim in either the sea or the freshwater lagoon
  • Climb the huge sand dune overlooking the beach and watch the sunset over Delisha
  • Dinner and overnight at the Adeeb’s Eco-lodge
socotra tour Flickr image by Valerian Guillot

Wednesday 9th May – Snorkeling and Caving

  • After an early breakfast, drive to the northeast of Socotra and explore the Dihammri Marine Protected Area
  • Dihammri is famous for snorkelling and has the best coral reef in Socotra. We’ll spend the morning diving or for those less keen on the water checking out the beach (diving equipment available to hire)
  • Lunch on the beach
  • Drive to Terbak village
  • Hike up the hillside then explore Hoq Cave (4 hour hike). Hoq is over 3000 metres deep and is the site of many archaeological findings in Socotra that date back nearly 2000 years.
  • Drive to Ras Erisel, the eastern point of the island where the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean meet. Known as a ship graveyard to the locals many wrecks are sunk in the ocean here.
  • Climb the Arher sand dune for a panorama of the area and to watch the sunset
  • Dinner and overnight camp at Arher campsite

Thursday 10th May – Canyons, Plateaus and Sand Dunes

  • Set off after breakfast for a drive through the canyons of Defarhu Valley to the southern coast of Socotra.
  • Stop off in traditional villages for a look at rural life in Socotra
  • Picnic lunch
  • Drive to Hayf and Zahek villages which stand in the shadow of enormous sand dunes, before heading to Omak beach on the Indian Ocean
  • Swim, sunbathe or relax on the beach, or hike up to Digub Cave and explore it’s stalactites and stalagmites
  • Drive up to Dixam plateau (700 metres) to the Shebahon viewpoint for a spectacular view and a look at the Dragon’s Blood Tree – the quintessential example of endemic local fauna on Socotra
  • Dinner and overnight camping will be at the Wadi Dirhur campsite
Socotra tour - old sea portFlickr image by Valerian Guillot

Friday 11th May – Sailing and Dolphin-Spotting

  • Up bright and early to explore the western part of the island. Our first stop will be Qalansiya, a small traditional fishing town. From there we will hop on a boat and head to Shuaab
  • The boat ride is fun in and of itself, but we’ll try and spot spinner dolphins that regularly follow the boats!
  • Arrive in Shuaab and swim at the beach before we explore the mangrove swamp just behind it
  • Lunch in Shuaab
  • Get the boat back to Qalansiya and check out the Detwah lagoon, another place famed for its landscape and wildlife
  • Dinner and overnight camp at Detwah Lagoon Protected area

Saturday 12th May – Departure from Socotra

  • After breakfast we have a free morning to enjoy the beach before we transfer to Socotra seaport and grab lunch.
  • Check out the visitor centre in Hadibo and grab provisions for the boat
  • Early evening sailing on our YPT charter boat and overnight on the boat

Sunday 13th May – Final Day

  • Arrival in Salalah and end of tour
  • For those continuing to Somaliland we spend the night in Salalah before flying to Dubai.
socotra tour - Dragon's Blood TreesFlickr image by Rod Waddington

FAQ

How do I sign up for this tour?

To book a space on this tour, just send me a deposit using this link or fill up the booking form. Note that the deposit is non-refundable as the payment goes straight to the local tour operator that I work with in order to secure your spot. However, if I cancel the trip due to unforeseen circumstances, you will get a full refund. The balance is due on 6th March 2018.

What is your cancellation policy?

 If you cancel before the tour starts, here are the cancellation charges:
  • Before 6th March 2018 — 20% of total trip cost
  • Between 6th March and 6th May 2018  — 50% of total trip cost
  • No show — 100% of total trip cost

If I cancel the tour for any personal or political reason, you will get a full refund.

Is it safe to travel to Socotra?

Socotra is a territory of Yemen, which is currently a war zone and much of the country is simply too dangerous for foreigners to visit. However, Socotra is remote and isolated from mainland Yemen, making the risk of getting targeted for violence rather low. The operator we are traveling with has years of experience bringing travelers to hard-to-reach areas. They have also signed an official agreement with the Yemen ambassador to allow us to travel to Socotra.

In the past, many Socotra trips have been cancelled because of the lack of flights. By going on a chartered boat, we have a lower chance of getting the trip cancelled at the last minute.  For those worried about the voyage, the seas are fine in May; they get rough in June/July. Piracy has not been a problem since a joint international naval force started providing protection in 2012. We will have armed guards on board just in case. I advise to do some research and make judgement for yourself. 

Do I need a visa?

Yes, everyone needs a permit to enter Socotra. Our tour operator will be applying for a permit on our behalf. We just need a copy of your passport to apply for that and you’ll receive the permit by email. No Yemen visa is needed, so don’t worry about having the stamp on your passport. The Socotra permit costs an additional US$120 (€100).

Do I need travel insurance?

WildJunket Tours do not include any travel insurance. To join my tours, it is mandatory to have travel insurance. I’ve been using Travel Guard since I started traveling in 2003 and highly recommend them. You can opt for a single-trip insurance or an annual insurance plan if you travel more than three times a year.

Are flights to the destination included in your tours?

No. WildJunket Tours do not include flights/transport to the destination. We cover only the ground transport, accommodation, meals, activities and guide.

Where shall I fly into and out of?

The tour will start and end in Salalah, Oman. Airfares from Europe to Salalah are around US$650 round-trip. It is much cheaper to fly to Muscat, the capital of Oman, and then catch a 10-hour bus to Salalah. Return flights from Europe to Muscat cost around $300. I personally always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to anywhere.

Search for flights to Oman.

There is a possibility to arrange a pre-trip tour in Oman for you as well. Email me for details.

How big is the group?

WildJunket Tours are small-group adventures, so we try to keep our groups small for a more intimate experience. But for this particular trip, the local tour operator we are traveling with is chartering a big boat. The total number of people on the boat will be around 70, but we will be traveling in groups of 15 to 20.

Do you provide airport transfer at the destination?

Not for this trip. you’ll need to find your way to the boat but we will be provide clear instructions.

How are the accommodations like on this tour?

This trip is slightly different from our other tours, in that accommodation is more basic when on Socotra Island, but the hotel in Salalah and the cruise are relatively comfortable. Below are some photos of the chartered boat that we will be using. On the island itself, we will be camping and staying at eco-lodges. All camping equipment are included in the price. If you are traveling solo, you will be sharing a room with another person in the group.

Can I have my own room?

It is possible to opt for a single room or your own tent. The single supplement for the Socotra trip is US$240 (€200) and the same for Somaliland.
 socotra tour
socotra tour

Somaliland Trip Extension

If you’d like to extend your trip in the region, there is a possibility to book a Somaliland tour that will start right after the Socotra trip.

The former British protectorate and self-declared republic of Somaliland is a de-facto state that declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991. However, no international organization has recognized its sovereignty as yet.

Still recovering from a brutal civil war, today Somaliland is relatively safe to visit and the local people are extremely welcoming and interested in foreign visitors. Somaliland is fundamentally different from the other countries in the region — and almost anywhere else on the planet. We’ll be hanging out with the locals, swimming in untouched waters and visiting ancient cave art!


Prices:

Somaliland Tour Extension: US$1500

Flight to Hargeisa (via Dubai) between tours: US$375

Total price for Socotra + Somaliland: US$3700 without flight/ US$4075 with flight included

Pay Your $400 Deposit Here!


Somaliland Trip Itinerary

Sunday 13th May — Rest in Salalah

  • Arrival in Salalah
  • Free afternoon for some much needed R&R at our hotel
  • Head out for an Indian in Salalah before heading back for drinks at the hotel
  • Overnight in Salalah

Monday 14th May — Layover in Dubai

  • Check out and catch our 10am flight to Dubai
  • Transfer to our hotel in Dubai where you have free time to stock up on some supplies before heading for the Horn of Africa
  • We head back to the airport at 1.30am to catch our flight out to Hargeisa

Tuesday 15th May — Arrival

  • Early morning arrival in Hargeisa where we are met at the airport by our guides who will transfer us to our hotel downtown
  • Get some much needed rest before meeting up that evening for our first Somali group dinner
  • Dinner at a newly opened and popular Syrian restaurant run by refugees from Damascus. We’ll have a chance to chat with them and hear how they find life in Somaliland.
  • After dinner you can walk around the bustling city center in Hargeisa, and have some chai with the friendly locals or do some shopping for t-shirts and flags for Independence Day. 

Wednesday 16th May — Walking Tour of Hageisa

  • Visit the two hills called Naaso Hablood (“Girl’s Breasts”) also known as Hargeisa’s landmark. On the way we visit the cemetery for British Soldiers who died here battling against the Italians during the Second World War. Hargeisa is the former capital of British Somaliland, while Italy controlled what is now Somalia.
  • We will have lunch at a Somali-Yemeni restaurant with some Somalilander intellectual icons who will give us the political, social, historical and cultural introduction of the country.
  • We will then take a walking tour around the city center of Hargeisa to get a sense of the people and the city. Here you will see street money exchangers and their “chunk” of bills, the central market, and the MiG Jet fighter War Memorial which stands for the atrocities committed by the dictator during the Civil War. The War Memorial is in the middle of the buzzing centrum and a great place for a coffee and chat with Somalilanders about politics and history.
  • Visit to the busy market in downtown Hargeisa for some evening shopping and people watching.
  • Dinner and a night out to hang around with Somalilander people.
socotra tour - somalilandFlickr image by Retlaw Snellac

Thursday 17th May — Ancient Rock Art

  • After breakfast a visit to the livestock market where you can purchase your own camel or goat! For those who can’t fit a camel in their luggage, this market will provide great photo opportunity and a chance to see how the locals do business.
  • Afternoon visit to Laas Geel, the most important rock art site in Africa. These caves contain some of the oldest cave paintings on the horn of Africa; the vibrant colors and well preserved paintings are estimated to be around ten thousand years old.
  • Make the 60km drive back to Hargeisa and spend the evening at your leisure.

Friday 18th May – Independence Day!

  • We’ll get up nice and early for a quick breakfast before hitting the streets to observe the military and civilians’ parades. Everyone will be dressed in the national colors on the street, and this is one of the only places on earth to take part in an independence day in an unrecognized country!
  • After lunch and a short break, we will visit ex-child-soldiers’ house, who now are successful investors and entrepreneurs. We will listen to their stories with some Somali tea and chaat, the local drug, and have a chance to ask them some questions about their experiences.
  • After sunset, we will hit the main drag of Harnett street for a huge party!
  • We will have traditional dinner accompanied by traditional music and dance – the night will finish very late with all of the celebrations taking place. Feel free to wear national costume!

Saturday 19th May — Port Town of Berbera

  • We will head to the most important port of Somaliland, Berbera. Upon our arrival, we will visit historical Ottoman Mosque and Ottoman houses.
  • Late lunch will be served at the Ottoman houses, and we will relax a bit (it will be VERY hot).
  • Short boat trip to see the ship wrecks in the Gulf of Aden.
  • We will relax and swim at untouched beach, where local youth and families come and enjoy their down time. (Due to local culture, ladies will need to cover their body while in water.)
  • Tour the historic town of Berbera in early evening, where you will find more Ottoman, Persian, and British architecture of historic interest. This will be a great chance for some amazing photographs.
  • We will have fresh seafood at the waterfront for dinner.

Sunday 20th May — Hageisa’s Mountains

  • After breakfast, we will have a short free time in Barbera.
  • We head to the Berbera Airport to see one of the longest runways in Africa. It was built by the USSR in the 70s and used by The USA as an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle..
  • We’ll drive to the small town of Sheikh in the mountains, have tea, and walk around and enjoy the pleasant climate.
  • We’ll make the drive back to Hargeisa, followed by dinner and a night at the arcade and bowling center, sheesha lounge, and girls’ basketball and boys’ football matches.

Monday 21st May — Departure

  • End of Somaliland tour. Airport transfers provided
  • There’s a possibility of continuing on an Eritrea tour after this; email me for details.

socotra tour - somaliland trip extension

Book Your Spot with $400 Deposit
  • Dates: 6 – 13 May 2018

  • Duration: 8 Days, 7 Nights

  • Start: Salalah, Oman

  • Finish: Salalah, Oman

  • Min Group Size: 10 people

  • Group Leader: Nellie

Early Bird Prices
  • Price of Socotra tour: US$2200 

  • Price of Somaliland ext: US$1500

  • Deposit: US$400 (non-refundable)

  • Balance: due 6th March 2018

  • Payment: Paypal 

Choose your payment option

What’s Included?

  • Boat trip between Salalah and Socotra
  • Entry fees in the protected areas
  • Camping equipment, cooking equipment and cook
  • Transportation: 4×4 private cars Toyota Land cruiser
  • All accommodation: hotels, tourist resorts, eco-lodges, camping in protected areas.
  • Camping equipment (tent, mattress, pillow, sheets)
  • Cooking equipment and cook
  • Local tour guide: (English and Arabic)
  • Travel Insurance (mandatory for the trip)
  • International flights to and from Salalah
  • Visa fee (€100)
  • All Transport (unless otherwise stated)
  • All Accommodation
  • Food
  • Some local tours (unless otherwise stated)
  • Visa Fees (100 USD, subject to change).
  • Flight from Socotra – Somaliland ($375, subject to fluctuation)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local guide tips

Testimonials

I’ve had the pleasure of traveling with Nellie three times and it has always been a blast! When we met traveling in Africa, her passion and love for travel were infectious. I joined her first WildJunket tour, to Tibet, and it was a great experience.

Brian Fung, Canada

I have been traveling with Nellie for 10 years. She was my first tour guide. She has showed me the best tapa bars in Spain, train travel in Morocco, elephant sanctuary in Bali, Singapore high rises.

Melinda Countway, Canada

What an amazing trip with Nellie on her first WildJunket tour! Tibet is a gorgeous land, filled with rich history and vibrant culture. It was unbelievable!

Hannah Enightoola, Trinidad

Nellie is a great travel partner! Her resourcefulness, spontaneous spirit, love for food and especially for travel and exploring made the whole trip super fun.

Tay Yan Bing, Singapore

Contact Me

By | 2018-01-08T18:11:14+00:00 November 27th, 2017|0 Comments

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