Socotra Two-Week Nature and Culture Itinerary
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Day 1: Wednesday: Cairo / Seiyun / Hadibo / Ayhaft
You’ll depart Cairo on Yemenia’s only weekly flight into Socotra, leaving at 3:30am from Cairo and arriving in Socotra around 9am, with a one-hour stop in the mainland Yemeni town of Seiyun. You’ll be met upon arrival at Socotra Airport by your guide and we’ll take a quick rest and shower at an eco lodge in Hadibo town before starting our day. Our first spot is Ayhaft Canyon National Park. In the canyon, you’ll enjoy large freshwater pools where you can swim. All around you there will be tamarind trees, cucumber trees and a wide variety of birds such as the Socotra sparrow, Socotra sunbird and both Socotra and Somali starlings. Ayhaft is a natural nursery due to its large abundance of endemic trees, plants and birds.
Overnight: Camping at Ayhaft
Day 2-3: Thursday & Friday : Ayhaft / Diksam Plateau / Derhur Canyon / Fermhin Forest
After breakfast, we will drive to the Diksam Plateau and gorge which is definitely the most spectacular limestone landscape feature on the island. The gorge drops 700 m (2295 ft) vertically to the valley floor. We will walk along the edge of the gorge to see attractive stands of Dragon's Blood Trees and the extensive limestone pavement. 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 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. Nowhere else in the world can one find Dragon's Blood Trees in such densities as growing here. Local people will show us how they used to collect - and still collect on a smaller scale -the precious red resin of the trees.
After Dixam Plateau, the road plunges 400 m (1312 ft) into a profound chasm slicing through the granite, giving a completely different atmosphere from the airy heights of the plateau. The lush canyon floor has been planted with palm trees, in the shade of which lay Bruce's Green Pigeons and Laughing Doves. We can refresh ourselves by swimming in the canyon’s deep pool, escaping the midday heat.
Dinner and overnight camping at Diksam
Day 4-5: Saturday & Sunday: Ameq Beach, Dagub Cave, Zahaq and Hayf Sand Dunes
After our stay in Diksa, we will head to the southern coast of the island to Ameq beach, where we can swim in the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean from a beautiful white sandy beach. We’ll have lunch at Dagub Cave, which overlooks a scattering of traditional villages below. The cave has many stalactites, stalagmites and pools of water. We visit the colossal sand dunes of Hayf and Zahek, pushed up against the mountainside by the seasonal winds of Socotra. In the evenings we’ll meet with local fishermen to line fish.
Overnight camping at Ameq Beach.
Day 6: Monday: Difarhu Canyon / Arher
Today we travel from the south of the island towards the north, crossing Difarhu Canyon, where we will visit small rural villages along the way. We can also see natural water pools at the bottom of the canyon. The unusual Desert Rose tree clings to many places on the canyon walls. The vegetation here is lush green and there are many birds. We will drive to Arher where a fresh creek comes out from where a granite massive meets sea water on the beach. You 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. Arher is one of the best spots for Paragliding and you can paraglide here if you have your own equipment.
Dinner and overnight at Arher.
Day 7-8: Tuesday & Wednesday: Dihamri Marine Protected Area
We will drive to nearby Dihamri marine protected area. It boasts one of the richest coral reefs on the archipelago. You can relax on the beach in palm leaf huts and swim and snorkel in Dihamri Bay. Snorkeling gear can be rented there, along with SCUBA equipment and organized private dives. Marine species you will see underwater include: parrotfish, moray eels, rays, sea urchins, and if you are lucky you will meet turtles. SCUBA divers can also use the services of Dihamri Diving center and go for a dive in Dihamri or another of superb diving spots of Socotra (extra $100 for two dives + $50 boat/guide fee).
Overnight in Dihamri.
Day 9: Thursday: Hoq Cave / Rosh Marine Protected Area
We will start today early, 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. The rest of the day will be spent at Rosh Marine Protected Area.
Dinner and overnight camping at Rosh Campsite.
Day 10-11: Friday & Saturday: Homhil
Today’s destination is Homhil, a prehistoric feeling national protected area with incredible scenery. We will stop at Qaria lagoon en-route; it is the largest lagoon on the island and we will hopefully see flamingos, herons and greenshanks here.
The trek to Homhil starts at the bottom of a spectacular ravine at sea level. The trek is of medium difficulty and won’t take more than 1.5 hours. You will have enough strength to enjoy the view back towards the sea where we have started ascending.
Once at Homhil, we can choose from a selection of walking trails. You will be astonished by the prehistoric atmosphere of the landscape rich with Dragon Blood Trees and Bottle Trees. You will be meet a lot of local children here who sell dragon blood raisin and frankincense. One of the trails leads to a viewpoint with a natural pool with almost freezing green and blue water.
Dinner and overnight will be camping at Homhil.
Day 12: Sunday: Qalansiya / Detwah Lagoon
We will drive to the west of the island to a little fishing village called Qalansiya. It consists of traditional Socotri houses, narrow alleyways, and a beach full of fishing boats ready to set off for today’s catch. We will continue on to Detwah lagoon, a marine protected area renowned for its magical landscape. 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.
Dinner and overnight at Detwah.
Day 13: Monday: Shu’ab
After breakfast in Detwah, we will hire a fishing boat to take us to Shu’ab beach. On the way, we are likely to encounter spinner dolphins, and depending on conditions, we can get into the water and swim with them (bring your own mask and snorkel). This area is also known for its large cormorant birds who may be flying overhead. Once at Shu’ab, we’ll visit a mangrove swamp and have lunch on the white sand Shu’ab beach. In the afternoon, we can go for a swim before taking a boat ride back to Qalansyia. On the way, we will go line fishing with the local fishermen. Let’s try to catch our dinner for the evening.
Dinner and night in Adeeb eco camp near Hadibo.
Day 14: Tuesday: Delisha / Hadibo
Today is our last day on Socotra, so we’re going to make the most of it. We’ll head to the only “city” on Socotra, Hadibo, to explore the bazaar, go souvenir shopping if you’d like, and also visit the Adeeb Nursery to see a collection of endemic plants grown here on the island. In the afternoon, we will visit delisha beach with pristine white sands full of crabs. We will climb a huge sand dune overlooking the beach and try to surf it down for our last sunset in Socotra.
Dinner and night at Adeeb eco-lodge.
Day 15: Friday: Hadibo / Seiyun / Cairo
After an early breakfast, we will drive you to the Socotra airport, where you’ll catch your flight back to Cairo via Seiyun. The flight is scheduled to depart Socotra at 11:15am, arriving back in Cairo at 4:15pm. Delays are common.