SOCOTRA: ECOLOGICAL WONDERLAND

Ever dreamed of a remote desert island with jagged stone mountains, bizarre forests, and unspoilt beaches? This camping, trekking and jeep expedition will take you through mountains, up sand dunes, into caves, and across bizarre forests of Dragon's Blood and Bottle Trees in one of the world's most unique ecological locations: Socotra.

Dates: November 11-21, 2019
Mainland Yemen Add-on (optional): November 8-13, 2019
Maximum Group Size: 14 participants
Ruggedness: Moderate
Meeting Point: Cairo, Egypt
Fee: $4290

 
 
 
 
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TEAM

 

 
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SALAH HAJ
Yemen

Salah comes from a long line of native Socotris. His grandfather started Socotra's first endemic tree nursery in Hadibo, and Salah continued on with his family's legacy by studying botany and ecology. He's an experienced guide and local flora and fauna expert, and has lead scientific research teams on the island.

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MATT REICHEL
Canada

Matt is a co-founder of Inertia and experienced expedition leader. He's previously lead some of our wildest programs in Socotra, Afghanistan, Siberia, Greenland, the Congo and beyond. He coordinated the recon for this expedition in Sumatra. He's an avid photographer, documentarian and geopolitics nerd.

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EISA ABDULLAH
Yemen

Eisa is an experienced local guide from a small village outside Hadibo on Socotra's north shore. He studied English in Socotra and became an ecological guide on the island shortly after. He always keeps a positive attitude and is easy to talk with. Eisa is married with two kids.

 
 
 
 

EXPEDITION

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Get way off the beaten path in one of the world’s most remote and ecologically unique islands by embarking on a three-day camel trek through the Hajhir Mountains.
  • Explore the depths of the Hoq Cave, one of the most spectacular natural formations in Socotra.
  • Get up close to Socotra’s most unique natural and ecological treasures including Dragons Blood Trees, Bottle Trees, glowing bioluminescence, gigantic white sand dunes, and marine life.
  • Set up camp on remote beaches, in wadis and on mountain plateaus with a mix of team members and locals as we explore the island of Socotra together by foot, jeep and camel.

 
 
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EXPLORE


 

ITINERARY

For the Mainland Yemen optional add-on, please see the bottom of the itinerary.

DAY 1. MONDAY, NOV 11, 2019. ARRIVE IN CAIRO

Arrivals throughout the day and evening. For those arriving today, we will provide airport transportation for you from Cairo International Airport to the hotel. At 6pm we will meet in the hotel lobby for an expedition overview and then go out for our first team dinner.

Overnight: Steigenberger Hotel El Tahrir.

DAY 2. TUESDAY, NOV 12, 2019. CAIRO

Today we will embark on an epic day trip around greater Cairo. This massive city is the most populous in the Arab world and has been built from thousands of years of human history. We are going to team up with Dr. Ibrahim Morgan, an incredible Egyptologist, to go tour the newly discovered tombs at Saqqara (the most impressive in lower Egypt), the step pyramid area, then we will have lunch in a rural barbeque south of Cairo. We’ll then visit the Great Pyramids and Sphinx and go for a camel ride as the sun begins to set. In the evening we’ll explore the Khan El Khalili bazaar in Islamic Cairo, where ancient mosques, artisans, workers, restaurants and tea shops converge in Cairo’s narrow streets. We’ll have a late dinner in the city before returning to the hotel to collect our luggage and drive to the airport. Our flight to Socotra leaves very early the next morning.

Overnight: On the plane.

DAY 3. WEDNESDAY, NOV 13, 2019. CAIRO / SEIYUN / HADIBO / HOMHIL

We’ll depart Cairo on Yemenia’s only weekly flight into Socotra, leaving at 2:00am from Cairo and arriving in Socotra around 10:30am, with a two-hour stop in the mainland Yemeni town of Seiyun, where we pass through a security check. We’ll be met upon arrival at Socotra Airport by our local team ready to explore. We’ll first visit the only “city” in Socotra-- Hadibo-- to have some lunch and go shopping for some local clothes for those interested. In the afternoon we’ll drive to the Homhil, a prehistoric feeling national protected area with incredible scenery. There, we can enjoy a sunset walk amongst the Bottle, Frankincense and famous Dragon’s Blood Trees.

Overnight: Camping at Homhil.

DAY 4. THURSDAY, NOV 14, 2019. HOMHIL / ARHER

We will begin this morning like all of our days in Socotra, waking up just before sunset, followed by a simple breakfast. We’ll then go on a hike down to a beautiful natural infinity pool at the bottom of the valley, surrounded by Dragon’s Blood Trees and Bottle Trees. On the way we’ll likely meet local children selling dragon blood resin and frankincense. The scenery is absolutely spectacular, and out of this world. Welcome to Socotra.

We’ll return to camp for lunch and then drive to Arher, a spectacular camping spot on the beach in the far northeast of the island, where a fresh creek comes out from where a granite massive meets sea water on the beach. We can relax on green grass around the creek, swim in the sea, or if you feel fit you can climb a huge sand dune to get a fantastic view over this charming spot-- amazing for sunset. If we’re lucky, we can see bright blue bioluminescence in the ocean at night.

Overnight: Camping at Arher Beach.

DAY 5. FRIDAY, NOV 15, 2019. ARHER / HOQ / ROSH / ARHER

We will start early today, with a drive to the base of Hoq Cave in Terbak village. Before the sun gets too strong, we will walk up to the entrance of the cave. It is more than three kilometres long, with a water pool at the end. The cave holds a wealth of Socotri history; inside, you will see stalactites, stalagmites and crystalline formations. Ancient writings on the cave walls and also what appears to be a picture of an old trading ship have been preserved over the ages by a calcite glaze.

In the afternoon, we’ll drive a short distance to the Rosh Marine Protected Area for some lunch followed by excellent snorkeling amongst thriving coral reefs. When it’s time for sunset, we’ll return to Arher to enjoy the views from the beach or towering sand dunes just behind.

Overnight: Camping at Arher Beach.

DAY 6. SATURDAY, NOV 16, 2019. ARHER / HAJHIR MOUNTAINS

We’ll wake up early and set out for the Hajhir Mountains just to the south of Hadibo after breakfast. There we’ll load up our pack camels and begin our three day overland trek through the mountains. The Hajhir mountain range is truly something to behold, with sharp rocky peaks, deep canyons, beautiful rock formations, and lush green vegetation. The air in the mountains is much cooler than in the lowlands, so it can be quite refreshing. We will visit some traditional Socotri villages along our trek.

We will start with a 4 hour hike to Kishan. On the way, we expect to cross wadis and walk among endemic plants such as Croton Socotramo and Adinum, and pass by a granite wadi. We’ll have lunch in Kishan. After our picnic, we will continue on to Adoho Dema'alah at some 600 meters.

Overnight: Camping in Adoho Dema'alah.

DAY 7. SUNDAY, NOV 17, 2019. HAJHIR MOUNTAINS

This morning we will trek to one of the most beautiful and interesting areas of our hike-- to a place called Skand. Skand has high density of vegetation, you will be astonished by a jungle of huge plants, also it houses the highest peak on the island, which reaches 1525m above sea level. We will then continue trekking to Wadi Da'aharoh for the night.

Overnight: Camping at Wadi Da'aharoh.

DAY 8. MONDAY, NOV 18, 2019. HAJHIR MOUNTAINS - DIKSAM

After breakfast, we will trek to the Firmhin Forest, which is the last woodland comprised of Dragon's Blood trees. Nowhere else in the world can one find Dragon's Blood trees in such density. Nur, a local goat herder, will show us how they used to collect-- and still collect on a smaller scale-- the precious red resin of the tree. We will continue hiking down into the Derhur Canyon, where we will see unusual rock formations and can swim in freshwater pools, where we can enjoy a picnic lunch. Then, we’ll hike for one more hour, 700 metres up to the Diksam Plateau.

The plateau is home to nomadic Bedouin herdsmen who move from one site to another with their goat herds. We will be welcomed by them with a cup of tea, where we can observe the many houses built into ledges where the plateau meets the gorge. The forest in Diksam is the last Dragon's Blood woodland. It’s a steep finish, but rewarding, as we can watch the sun set amongst the Dragon’s Blood Trees and canyon below.

Overnight: Camping at the Diksam Homestay.

DAY 9. TUESDAY, NOV 19, 2019. DIKSAM / ZAHEK / DETWAH / HADIBO

We’ll arise before sunrise and drive to the south coast of Socotra. As the sun rises, we’ll wander amongst the colossal sand dunes of Hayf and Zahek, pushed up against the mountainside by the seasonal winds of Socotra. Then we’ll drive to the northwest of the island to Detwah Lagoon, a marine protected area renowned for its magical landscape and incredible coastline for swimming. We’ll be charmed by a white sandy peninsula jutting out into the sea surrounded by turquoise waters, where we can swim. There is also an array of sea birds to be seen in the lagoon. We’ll return to Hadibo in the evening for dinner.

Overnight: Hadibo Eco Lodge (beds and showers).

DAY 10. WEDNESDAY, NOV 20, 2019. HADIBO - SEIYUN - CAIRO

After breakfast, we spend the early morning exploring Hadibo-- visiting the fish market, docs and bazaar. Then we’ll drive to Socotra Airport for our flight back to Cairo via Seiyun. The flight is scheduled to depart Socotra at 11:15am, arriving back in Cairo at 5:00pm. Delays of a couple hours are common. Upon our arrival in Cairo we’ll drive downtown, check in to our hotel and enjoy a final dinner all together.

Overnight: Steigenberger Hotel El Tahrir.

DAY 11. THURSDAY, NOV 21, 2019. DEPARTURES FROM CAIRO

Departures throughout the day from Cairo. No scheduled activities.



MAINLAND YEMEN ADD-ON

For those interested, we are opening up two spots to bring people through Mainland Yemen’s Marah and Hadhramaut regions for five days in the run up to the Socotra trip. This part of the trip is open to experienced travellers willing to embark on a true adventure with an expert fixing team in Yemen. Currently we are unable to take US or Israeli citizens on this portion of the trip, but other nationalities are welcome to apply. If you would like to see the itinerary, please email us at travel@inertianetwork.com and we’ll send you a copy. We are not listing it online for security reasons.

This section of the trip will start in Salalah, Oman on November 8th, and end in Cairo, Egypt with the rest of the group after Socotra on the 21st.

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EXPECTATIONS

Accommodation

Most nights are spent tent camping on beaches and in the mountains. Vegetable-heavy home-cooked meals are prepared by our cooks, and everyone pitches in to help. We stay at a luxury hotel in Cairo and will spend one night at a lodge in Hadibo.

People

A team of local guides, drivers, and cooks will accompany us. Everyone is responsible for carrying their own daypacks; we have vehicle support for luggage throughout the trip. Each participant is expected to help out with building our camp and engaging locals.

Activities

Prepare for waking up before sunrise, lots of camping, bonding exercises and exploration. Hiking days require between 4 and 7 hours of hiking, with pack camels providing gear support. Marine activities include snorkelling, and optional fishing and diving.

 
 
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COST

$4290

 

INCLUDED

  • All accommodations (single supplement).

  • Airport pick up in Cairo.

  • 3 meals per day (exc arrival and departure days).

  • Private and secure transportation.

  • Round trip flights from Cairo to Socotra ($1,300).

  • Yemeni visa fee ($150).

  • Professional expedition leader and guiding team.

  • Camping gear (tents, sleep pads, pillows).

EXCLUDED

  • Round trip international airfare to Cairo.

  • Double-entry Egyptian visa ($50).

  • Travel and medical insurance.

  • Any activities not mentioned in the itinerary.

  • SCUBA diving (about $100-$150 per person).

  • Personal spending.

  • Snorkeling and or dive gear.

  • Sleeping bags.

 
 
 

 

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