Socotra – The Lost Island – Private Tour

Highlights

  • Enjoy a sunset beach dinner
  • Visit Detwah lagoon, a marine protected area
  • Walk along Diksam Plateau and gorge, the most spectacular limestone landscape, home to Dragons Blood Trees
  • Enjoy tea with local mountain Bedouins in their traditional homes
  • Swim in remote wadis
  • Watch elegant flamingos in the largest lagoon on the island
  • Hike into Hoq Cave home to huge stalagmites, stalactites, and a rim pool

Discover the mystery of Socotra, part of a remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean. A Jurassic island so isolated that a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet.

Home to the unique dragon’s blood trees that look like flying saucers perched on trunks and the unusual desert rose trees which look like elephants’ legs with pink flowers on top. Birds such as the Socotra starling, Socotra sunbird, and Socotra grosbeak are found nowhere else on earth. Rolling white sand dunes, dotted with camels, crumbling stone villages and turquoise lagoons brimming with an abundance of marine life, all make up this Arabian jewel.

Explore this fascinating island of endemnicity with us as you uncover a destination, so remote and so untouched, it may feel like you are the only travellers there. Socotra, a forgotten island that has stood still in time for millions of years.

**Yemen is currently in a state of civil war. However Socotra has escaped this due to its remote location. However, should that change we must state that our local team have the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons.**

Journey map

Fitness level

Easy
Moderate
Challenging
Tough

Itinerary

Day 1 – Socotra – Wednesday - Ayhaft Canyon National Park

Welcome to the remote but uniquely beautiful island of Socotra!

You will be met at the airport and assisted with immigration. Transfer to your hotel. Drive to Ayhaft Canyon National Park. In the canyons large water pools, you will be able to enjoy a swim while enjoying the wide variety of birds and trees. In the afternoon, you shall visit Delisha beach. Here you can swim in the sea, walk along the white sands or paddle in the fresh water lagoon. There is also the chance to climb a sand dune for an aerial view of the beach, as well as enjoy sunset on the beach. Dinner and overnight in hotel. (L,D)

Day 2 – Thursday - Qalansyia - Detwah Lagoon

We will travel around the town and the port of Qalansiyah, then make our way to an overview point where you can see the entire beach of Qalansiyah and the Detwah lagoon.

From there, we will drive to Detwah lagoon, a marine protected area renowned for its magical landscape. Relax by the golden sands and turquoise waters of the bay, while taking in one of the best views on the island. There will be free time for swimming until we return to Qalansyia. Dinner and overnight in hotel.   (B,L,D)

Day 3 – Friday - Dixsam Plateau - Derhur Canyon - Fermhin Forest

Drive to Diksam Plateau and gorge, the most spectacular limestone landscape feature on the island. The gorge drops vertically to the valley floor. You will be able to walk along the edge of the gorge where you will see Dragon’s Blood trees. Sections of the plateau have partially slipped into the gorge, leaving ‘lost worlds’ accessible only to buzzards and vultures. The plateau is home to nomadic Bedouin herdsmen who move from one site to another with their herds. We will be welcomed by them with a cup of tea and see houses built into ledges where the plateau meets the gorge. The forest in Diksam is the last Dragon’s Blood woodland. Local people will show you how they used to collect – and still collect on a smaller scale – the precious red resin of the trees. After Diksam Plateau a dramatic change in landscape onto the lush canyon floor, home to Bruce’s Green Pigeons and Laughing Doves. Cool down by swimming in the wadi’s deep pool. Dinner and overnight in hotel.   (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Saturday - Amak Beach - Dagub Cave - Hayf & Zahaq Sand dunes

After breakfast, travel to the south of the island, visiting villages along the way. The first stop is at Amak beach where we can swim in the clear water of the Indian Ocean. Lunch will be at Dagub cave, overlooking traditional villages. The cave itself contains many stalactites, stalagmites and pools of water that have seeped through the rock over time. After lunch we shall visit the colossal sand dunes of Hayf and Zahek that have been pushed up against the mountainside by seasonal winds. There will be an opportunity to climb the dunes for a view worthy of the effort. Dinner and overnight in hotel.   (B,L,D)

Day 5 - Sunday - Shuaab Beach

Today we will depart early, as we head to the port of Qalansiyah to catch the boat where an exciting day begins. We will head to the western side of Socotra to explore one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – the beach of Shuaab and the isolated town of Qabahen. Here, you can swim in the magical crystal clear water and lay down in the white-snow sand.

On the way to Shuaab, you will see a group of Spinner dolphins. You will also see a one of its kind – Socotra cormorant birds – in their natural habitat, as well as many underwater caves. Many of them are still unexplored, making it a great place for thrill-seekers and divers.

If the time allows, you will meet Mr. Aliyah aka the caveman, the smartest man in Socotra who created his very own tourist attraction. Hundreds of tourists come to his cave to meet him and to enjoy listening to his stories on the life in the cave, the land, and its people.  (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Monday - Hoq Cave - Arher Creek & Beach

After breakfast, drive to Hoq Cave. One of the biggest caves on the island, with subterranean water supplies. The 2.5-hour uphill trek to the cave entrance is tough but rewarded by the cave system spanning over 10km long. As we walk inside, we will admire many huge stalagmites, stalactites, and a rim pool. Afterwards we will drive to Arher where sand dunes have been piled up against the sheer rock faces by the prevailing westerly winds. You can relax on green grass around a freshwater creek, swim in the sea or if feeling fit climb a huge sand dune to get a fantastic view over this charming spot. Dinner and overnight in hotel.  (B,L,D)

Day 7 - Tuesday - Homhill - Dihamari Marine Protected Area

After breakfast, pack your bags, put your swimming wear on and hiking shoe because we will head to the protected area of Homhill which is home to an endless number of the Socotri endemic plants such as Dragon’s blood tree, Frankincense, and Desert Rose Trees. It’s about 1 hour drive from Arher and a 30 minute walk along a selection of trails, one of which takes us to a viewpoint where there is a natural swimming pool and a view of villages below on the plain, and of the Arabian Sea.

After Homhil, we will head to another exciting area called Dihammri protected area where you can snorkel and dive in the marine protected area which is home to dozens of species of colourful marine life; it is one of the richest coral reefs on the archipelago.  (B,L,D)

Day 8 - Wednesday - Departure

After an early breakfast, you will be transferred to Socotra airport to meet your onward flight. (B)

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What’s included

  • Meet and greet service on arrival at Socotra Airport
  • 7 nights hotel accommodation
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days except arrival and departure days
  • English speaking local guides
  • Transportation in 4WD vehicles
  • Entrance fees and protected area fees
  • Visa support
  • Food, cooking equipment, cook and water
Exclusions
  • International and domestic flights
  • Visas
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • All services, meals other than those indicated above
  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc

**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures for travel between October to May.

* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.

* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.

A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.

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What our adventurers are saying

Visited the island of Socotra with Crooked Compass which was amazing. A genuinely immersive experience in the local culture and I learnt so much. The people were without exception lovely and friendly.

Our hotel had air conditioning, hot water for showers and a Western style toilet which was not found elsewhere. The food lacked a bit of variety which was expected, but it was tasty and plentiful.

Lots of varied terrain on the island. Take note, the sun is very strong which did affect the amount of time I could spend in it. Be vigilant with sun protection and you should be ok.

Local guides and staff went out of their way to make our trip memorable and Crooked Compass took care of all details seamlessly. I would happily recommend and travel with them again 🙂

Andrea Ozols – Socotra

It was epic. It was every bit as good as I had hoped and wished it would have been. It’s so unique … there’s very, very few places left on the planet that are untouched and unspoilt. Literally five or 10 minutes into the trip you can see how disconnected it is from the rest of the world. It really lives up to its title of the lost island of Socotra. I think I almost have a sense of responsibility to say this … this trip is not for everyone. It’s very raw. It’s very rustic. I’m lucky enough to have gone to places like Bora Bora and the Caribbean and all these kind of places and I’m very lucky to have gone there but this place, beats all of them hands down. No question about it. The nature, I describe it as mega nature. It’s on another scale and it’s completely unspoilt.

A third of the plant species and they reckon about 90 per cent of the reptile species are endemic to the island. They don’t exist anywhere else in the world. So when you see this stuff, it is completely foreign to you.

It is like an alien world. It is frozen in time. There were times where I kept expecting a dinosaur to walk around the corner. I mean, it’s seriously like a real life Jurassic Park.

There were so many moments where I had to stop and go, ‘Wow, I just need to sit here and just take this in.’

To kind of put it into perspective you’ve got beaches there that will be comparable to the Whitsundays, mountains backdrops that are probably comparable to parts of the Alps.

The sand dunes there are just insane and they would rival parts of the southern tip of Africa in places like Namibia, the caves were as impressive as the ones you get in, like, Yucatan in Mexico, canyons that wouldn’t look out of place in Arizona.

Doug Driscoll – Socotra