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SOCOTRA EXPEDITION: ALIEN PLANET


socotra-beach.jpg

SOCOTRA ISLAND

We’re going back to Socotra, this time for a two-week trip all over the island. For the first week, we will go on a camel and foot trek through the Haggier Mountains. Along the way we will meander through Dragon’s Blood Tree forests, stay in traditional Socotri villages, walk through deep canyons and otherworldly terrain. For the second week, we’ll explore the coastal regions of the south and west of the island, go diving in the Arbian Sea, stay in fishing villages, scale massive sand dunes, and camp on the beach. This is the ultimate Socotra trip!


HIGHLIGHTS

  • Camel trek through the Haggier Mountains.

  • Stay with local Socotra families in small inland mountain villages.

  • Swim with dolphins and sting rays in the Detwah Lagoon.

  • Meander around the traditional Socotri village of Qalansyia, with its narrow alleyways, old houses and wooden fishing boats.

  • Line fish for our own dinner with Socotri fishermen.

  • Sip tea with traditional camel-raising Bedouin tribes on the Diksam Plateau.

  • Wander amongst Socotra’s famous Dragon Blood trees.

  • Hike the wadis and canyons of Derhur.

  • Climb the colossal sand dunes of Hayf and Zahek.

  • Snorkel amongst the sealife and colourful reefs of the Dihamari Marine Protected Area.


TRIP ESSENTIALS

Max group size: 14 participants
Ruggedness: Difficult
Service level: Mid range
Starting in: Cairo, Egypt
Ending in: Cairo, Egypt
Trip type: Culture, Trekking, Wildlife and Nature


ITINERARY

DAY 1. MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2019. ARRIVE IN CAIRO

Arrivals in Cairo throughout the day. We will pick you up from the airport and transfer you to our hotel for the evening.

DAY 2. TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 2019. CAIRO

We will spend the day getting to know each other as we explore Cairo. We’ll start with the Saqqara Archeological Site where we can see the Funeral Complex of King Djoser and his Step Pyramid, and then take horses into the surrounding desert. In the afternoon, we will have lunch in and explore Islamic Cairo, meandering the ancient souqs, mosques and coffee shops of this vibrant city. We’ll have a late dinner in the city before heading to the airport to catch our early morning flight to Yemen.

DAY 3. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 2019. CAIRO - SEIYUN - SOCOTRA

We will depart Cairo in the early morning (around 2am) on Yemenia’s weekly flight to the Archipelago of Socorta, with an immigration stop in the UAE Military-controlled town of Seiyun in eastern Yemen (airport transit only, no change of plane).

Upon our arrival, we will meet our Socotri team at the airport and transit to the Adeeb eco-lodge in Hadibo. After a quick rest, we’ll head out towards Ayhaft Canyon National Park. In the canyon, we’ll enjoy large fresh waterpools, tamarind trees, cucumber trees and a wide variety of birds. Ayhaft is considered a natural nursery due to its large abundance of endemic trees, plants and birds.In the late afternoon, we will visit Delisha beach with its pristine white sands full of crabs. We’ll climb a huge sandune over the beach to enjoy sunset from the top. Camping overnight.

DAY 4. THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2019. DELISHA - DETWAH - QALANSYIA

In the morning, we will continue to neighboring Detwah Lagoon, a marine protected area renowned for its magical landscape. Brilliant white sand beaches reach directly into the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. We can jump in the shallow sea and enjoy the this paradise on earth, swimming with sting rays which frequent the bay. We will then take a boat to Shuaab to swim with spinner dolphins playing in the bay, and explore the mangrove forests. In the late afternoon, we’ll take a boat to the quiet fishing village of Qalansyia-- traditional Socotri houses and narrow alleyways make up the town, while fishing boats dot the beach. We’ll go line fishing with some local fishermen to catch our own dinner. Camping or homestays overnight.

DAY 5. FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 2019. QALANSYIA - DIKSAM

After breakfast we will drive to Diksam. The Diksam Plateau and gorge is the most spectacular limestone landscape feature on the island. The gorge drops 700 metres vertically to the valley floor. We will walk along the edge of the gorge to see stands of Dragon's Blood Trees. The plateau is home to nomadic Bedouin herdsmen who move from one site to another with their camel and 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 Diksom is the last Dragon's Blood woodland in the world. Nowhere else in the world can one find Dragon's Blood Trees in such density. Local people will show us how they collect the precious red resin of the trees. Time allowing, we’ll descend into Dehur Canyon in the afternoon to soak up the lush, palm fringed atmosphere.

DAY 6. SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 2019. DIKSAM - AMAK

After breakfast we travel to the south of the island to visit local Socotri villages. Our first destination is Amak beach, where we can swim in the clear water of the Indian Ocean. For lunch we will go to Dagub cave, which overlooks a scattering of traditional villages below. The cave itself is of interest, as there are many stalactites, stalagmites and pools of water that has seeped through the rock over time. We will then witness the colossal sand dunes of Hayf and Zahek which have been pushed up against the mountainside by the seasonal winds of Socotra. Overnight camping.

DAY 7. SUNDAY, APRIL 28, 2019. AMAK - HOMHIL

Today we make our way to the Homhil Protected Area, driving through dramatic deep ravines and expansive plains along the way. We will stop at Qaria lagoon en-route. Qaria is the largest lagoon on the island and we can hopefully see flamingos, herons and greenshank here. Once at Homhil, we can walk a selection of trails, one of which takes us to a viewpoint where there is a natural pool and a view village below on the plain. Homhil is also home to many Dragons Blood and Frankincense trees. Overnight camping or in homestays.

DAY 8. MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2019. HOMHIL - ARHER

After breakfast, we will drive to Hoq Cave. As we make our way there, we will pass by beautiful beaches and low-lying shrub lands with endemic trees. Due to the limestone plateau and mountains, there are many cave systems on Socotra. During our expedition, we will explore one of the biggest caves, Hoq, with its subterranean water supplies, underground dwelling animals, and archaeological findings. The 2.5-hour uphill trek to the cave entrance will be tough, but it's definitely worth the effort once we reach this cave system that is at least 10 km long. Inside, during an easy walk of 2 km, we can observe many stalagmites, stalactites, and a rim pool.

We will then drive to Arher where sand dunes standing 150 metres high have been piled up against the sheer rock faces by the prevailing westerly winds. Overnight camping in Arher.

DAY 9. TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2019. ARHER - DIHAMRI - HADIBO

After breakfast, we will drive to the nearby Dihamri Marine Protected Area. It has one of the richest coral reefs on the archipelago, and is full of marine diversity. You can relax on the beach in palm leaf huts and swim and snorkel in Dihamri Bay. Snorkeling gear can be rented and for those interested and licensed, we can arrange for diving. Marine species we may encounter include parrotfish, moray eels, sting rays, sea urchins, and sea turtles.

DAY 10. WEDNESDAY, MAY 1, 2019. HADIBO - SEIYUN - CAIRO

After an early breakfast, we will drive back to Socotra airport for our flight to Cairo via Seiyun. As this flight is commonly delayed, we highly suggest arranging for a buffer day in Cairo (optional). Upon our arrival back in Egypt, the program will officially conclude.

----- for those continuing on the trek -----

DAY 11-16. MAY 2-7, 2019. HAGGIER MOUNTAINS TREK

In the morning we will make our way to the base of the Haggier mountain range to begin our 6-day trek. Some of the trek we will do by foot, and some by camel. The Haggier mountain range is truly something to behold, with sharp rocky peaks, wadis (canyons) of different sizes, 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 camp overnight at various locations and in homestays.

After loading our stuff on a camel, we will then hike for 3 to 4 hours. On the way to Kishan, 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. Dinner and overnight in Adoho Dema'alah.

The next morning we will trek to the most beautiful and interesting area 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.

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. Local people 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 to Derhur Canyon, where we will see unusual rock formations and can swim in freshwater pools. We’ll camp at Derhur Canyon.

The next day, we will trek to Hadarhan and the last day of the trek will be over the Agliso Plateau, which is 800m above sea level and overlooks the Noged Plain in the south. The southern area is flat, with huge white sand dunes surrounded by flocks of camels.

Our final destination will be Ameq Beach, where we can swim in the clear water of the Indian Ocean. For lunch we will go to Dagub cave, which overlooks a scattering of traditional villages below. The cave itself is of interest as there are many stalactites, stalagmites and pools of water. We will then witness the colossal sand dunes of Hayf and Zahek, which have been pushed up against the mountainside by the seasonal winds of Socotra. You can climb the dunes for a view that is truly worth the effort. We will drive back to the Hadibo area in the evening for dinner and sleep.

DAY 17. WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 2019. HADIBO - SEIYUN - CAIRO

After an early breakfast, we will drive back to Socotra airport for our flight to Cairo via Seiyun. As this flight is commonly delayed, we highly suggest arranging for a buffer day in Cairo (optional). Upon our arrival back in Egypt, the program will officially conclude.


COST

Expedition

Early bird: $3,690 USD (until February 1st)

Regular: $3,990 USD (after February 1st)

1-week Haggier Mountains Camel Trek Add-on

Early bird: $1,190 USD (until February 1st)

Regular: $1,390 USD (after February 1st)

Included

  • All accommodations.

  • Airport transfers.

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

  • Private and secure transportation.

  • Round trip flights between Cairo and Socotra ($1,200).

  • Yemeni visa fee ($150).

  • Professional North American trip leader and participation facilitator.

  • English-speaking local guiding team.

  • All site entries.

  • Camping gear (tents, sleep pads).

  • Tips for local staff.

Excluded

  • Round trip international airfare to Cairo, Egypt.

  • Double entry Egyptian visa ($50).

  • Travel and medical insurance.

  • Any activities not mentioned in the itinerary (including SCUBA diving, which is about $100-$150 per person)

  • Personal spending.

  • Snorkeling and or dive gear (you can bring your own or rent on the island, we suggest bringing your own mask and snorkel).

  • Sleeping bags.


TRIP LEADERS

Coming soon.


APPLY TO JOIN THE TRIP

Socotra has been near impossible to access for the past several years and we're one of the first groups headed back there. This comes with certain risks: flights may be cancelled, issues may arise, but we think its worth it to get back there. Just be prepared for delays and frustration, but we will do our best to make this trip happen in its entirety. Admissions are open and the group is limited to 14 lucky individuals!

To join this trip, please fill out the application form by clicking on the button below. A deposit is due immediately following a successful application, so we ask that you only apply when ready to commit.

If you're not ready to sign up yet but would like to receive updates on this trip and other related Inertia trips, you can enter your email address below to join our interest list. 


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