In November 2022 I visited Socotra, a small island off the coast of Yemen. It belongs to Yemen and has unique, endemic plant and animal life. The trip was organized by Spiekerman. Almost everything worked very well, I was very happy with the organization. The only glitch was during the arrival in Cairo, nobody was there to help me as per itinerary. Somehow my arrival time was not communicated correctly. But since my hotel was in the airport, it was no big deal. The organization of the trip included the visa for Yemen, which can be problematic to get by yourself.
Overall, the organization of the trip was excellent. It was a group tour with a total of 10 travellers. We had a US guide and a couple of local guides plus 4 drivers for the 4 Toyota Landcruisers that transported the group members around the island. All lunches and most dinners were catered picnic meals. A couple of dinners were in restaurants. The food was good, a lot of local food with a lot of fish. They included a lot of salads, vegetables and fruits which suited me very much.
The tour started in Cairo with a night in the airport hotel. The next day we toured Cairo. It included a visit to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. I had visited its precursor, the Egyptian Museum in 2006. The new mseum is much better organized and displays the artifacts much better.
In the evening we flew to Aden in Yemen, where we had to spend a few hours in the airport before an early morning flight to Socotra. In Socotra we checked into our hotel in Hadiboh, the main city on Socotra. After a brief rest we started our tour. We drove the Delisha, a beach on the north shore of Socotra for a swim, and then furtther east along the north shore to some immense sand dunes. From there we drove back to the hotel.
The next day we drove Homhil in the mountains. We saw many of the endemic trees in that area. From there we drove to the Dihamri beach for some beach time. After a picnic dinner we drove back to the hotel.
The next day we drove east, all the way to Ras Ersel, the easter-most tip of the island, where the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet. After lunch we drove back to Hadiboh, stoppinh on the way at a small local shop/museum.
The next day we took the old Socotra road south through the mountains to Wadi Difaro. On the way we saw a lot of the Bottle Trees, endemic to Socotra. Further south, on the southern shore we came to the Sand dunes of Zahaq, a field of large, white sand dunes. From Zahaq we drove west for a visit to the Dogub cave, before heading back to Hadiboh.
The next day we headed south again to the Diksam Plateau. We had lunch at the Al Shibahn Camp Site. From there we drove down into Wadi Shibahn, and up the other side to the Dragonblood Tree Forest. The Dragonblood Trees are strange looking trees, endemic to Socotra. From there we headed back to Hadiboh.
The next day we drove east into te mountains to Wadi Ayhaft, the biggest valley on the island. It was a very scenic drive. We had picnic luch in he valley, and then headed back to Hadiboh. In Hadiboh we visited a local women's business and walked through the local market.
The next day we headed west to Qalansiyah. We boarded boats that brought us to Shoab Beach for some beach time. On the way back we saw some rusting Soviet tanks that the soviets brought to the island when it was part of South Yemen, a communist state in the 1970's and 80's. Just before Hadiboh we stopped at Detwah lagoon to watch flamingos, before heading back to the hotel for the last night in Socotra.
The next day we flew back to Cairo, with a long stop in Aden, arriving in the evening in Cairo. At 02:05 in the early morning my flight left to Germany for a short visit.
Socotra is part of Yemen, a fairly poor counttry. Currently, it doesn't seem to be much affected by the conflict in Yemen. We did not see any signs of conflict.
Yemen is a muslim country, but they don't have the strict clothing rules for wemen. I did see some women with a burka, but many just wore a head scarf. Many men wore a thobe, the long robe, over loose fitting pants. One concession to Islam was strict: There was no alcohol on the island.
Some roads were paved, but many were unpaved. The 4WD Toyota Landcruisers were important to get everywhere on the island.
Socotra has a lot of endemic species plants and animals. Especially conspicuous are the endemic trees, especially the Dragon Blood Trees (Dracaena cinnabari, german: Sokotrischer Drachenbaum, french: Dragonnier de Socotra), the Cucumber Trees (Dendrosicyos socotranus), and the Bottle Trees (Socotran Desert Rose) (Adenium obesum socotranum, german: Wüstenrose, french: Rose du désert). I also saw several of the six endemic bird species. I did not see any of the endemic reptiles or insects.
Overall, it was an interesting visit, not as spectacular as, for instance, visits to Egypt or Namibia, but seeing several endemic species was very satisfying.
Following are links to various pages with pictures:
All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.
The total number of pictures online on my website from Yemen is 263
Page last updated on Sun Jan 29 11:22:52 2023 (Mountain Standard Time)
اليَمَن (Yemen) - Socotra: unique plant and animal life on aerobaticsweb.org