SOCOTRA JURASSIC PARK!
SOCOTRA - AN ISLAND FORGOTTEN IN TIME
OUR SIXTH TRIP!
Sitting 240 km from the Horn of Africa, and 380 km from the Arabian Peninsula, is a small group of almost desert-like islands lost in the Arabian sea.
The largest island, Socotra, is only 70 km long and 20 km wide and was once part of the great Gondwana supercontinent. Its separation and isolation some 5 million years ago (during the Miocene epoch) created the perfect conditions for the evolution of a 21st century Jurassic Park! This unique environment has gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the range of endemic flora and fauna is rivalled only by Hawaii, Galapagos and New Caledonia – over 700 native animal and plant species.
This Yemeni territory is home to the Hoq cave with its discovery of ancient inscriptions, drawings and other archaeological objects. These date to as early as the first century BC and appear to have been left by sailors using Socotra as a stopping point in the maritime trade routes of the time. The islands are mentioned in numerous historical works – even by Marco Polo!
The curious umbrella-shaped Dragon Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari) is probably the most recognised species on the island. The impressive name comes from the red resin produced by the tree, used for all sorts of purposes including folk medicine, dye, and even ritual magic! You’ll also find it used to colour the local musical instruments. The tree, which can grow up to 9 metres high, is believed to be a survivor of the ancient Laurasian subtropical forest covering the region during the Miocene period. Having died out in the harsh conditions on the Arabian Peninsula, the tree's presence here is unique. Although still endangered with extinction, there are plenty to admire on Socotra! Many other impressive species are on show including Dendrosicyos socotranus, known as the Cucumber Tree.
While both flora and fauna are fascinating, Socotra has other delights to charm you. Its isolation, unpaved roads and lack of infrastructure make this a place visited little by outsiders. There are no well-beaten tourist trails to be found here! The result? Beaches, mountain ranges and a landscape practically untouched. There aren't many places that can compete with this enchanting island for the title of 'paradise'!
The island itself is only half the story. The surrounding waters are a playground for divers and anglers alike. Hordes of sharks can be found, famously fished by the locals. Many wrecks, some from ancient voyages, litter areas with a plethora of fascinating remains, just waiting to be explored. Fishing enthusiasts? You’ll doubtless believe you’re in paradise! The warm Arabian Sea provides plenty of large pelagic species such as marlin, kingfish, trevally, barracuda and tuna. The challenge awaits!
- see incredible and unusual trees only found on Socotra.
- a trip completely off the beaten track.
- dive among the rich diversity of underwater life in the clear warm waters of the Arabian Sea.
- a break from the hustle and bustle of civilisation.
- walk on beaches so breathtaking they seem from another planet.
- admire ancient cave paintings up to 2000 years old!
- experience the satisfaction of going back to basics when you catch, and eat your meal!
- a real adventure: sleeping in tents, clear star-filled skies and a taste of the exotic.
Day 1 — We fly from Poland to Dubai.
Day 2 — We can visit Dubai or sunbathe by the pool (expected April temperatures are around 31C in the shade).
Day 3 — Relaxing, sightseeing and maybe dinner at Nusr Et?
Day 4 — A morning flight to Socotra. Our guide will meet us at the airport, and a driver will transfer us to the nearby hotel for rest. After lunch, we visit the amazing beach of Delisha before returning to our hotel and dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 5 — An early breakfast before setting off at 07:30 am for the Dihamri Marine Reserve. The 50-minute drive takes us to the shores of the longest coral reef on Socotra and your first chance to dive in the tropical waters. Diving tanks and weights will be conveniently waiting for us. From the beach we make our way into the water and out to the reef. After a tasty dinner to refuel we’ll go for another dive - this time we get out a bit further by boat. If time permits, we may even squeeze in a third dive for the day! By evening, you should be well accustomed to the warm clear waters of the Indian Ocean! We camp tonight, tents and equipment will have been set up for us, and a personal chef is ready to prepare all our delicious meals.
Diving here is a pleasure — relaxed and easy. The logistics on land are the most challenging part of the experience. Because tourism is in its infancy, associated infrastructure and accommodation is at a more fundamental level than your usual tourist routes. However, the underwater experience more than compensates for any inconveniences. The reefs are in superb health, and favourable ocean currents provide an ideal environment for a vast range of fish — even unique hybrid crossovers of Red Sea and Indian Ocean species! No wonder the Socotra Archipelago is often known as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean!
Day 6 — After breakfast, we head for the marvellous Homhil Reserve. This place is famous for its frankincense trees. The Boswellia serrata is a medium-sized tree usually found in India, north-east Africa and the Middle East. The plant is considered to have numerous medicinal and healing purposes, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. The primary compound used for health products is a resin called olibanum, obtained from the tree’s bark and then cleaned. A robust, rich incense extracted from the Boswellia serrata has seen it used in cultural and religious ceremonies since the beginning of time.
As we make our way through the reserve, we’ll have plenty of encounters with the famous Dragon Blood trees before reaching a beautiful natural freshwater pool. We spend the night in camp at Dihamri.
Day 7 — A quick breakfast and we leave camp to head north-east. The Rosh Marine Reserve awaits us. Here we’ll board a boat, and head out for about 15 mins to complete two dives before lunch. This fantastic site is known for its one-kilometre long reef stretching out off the coast.
Day 8 — Up bright and early today! A 6:00 am start sees us travelling to the east of the island (about one hour) to the fishing village of Irsel. We’ll be wreck diving primarily and have a chance to encounter a large number of sharks - this site is famous for them. Watch out for the currents; they can be quite strong here! We return to Hadibo for the night in a hotel.
Day 9 — We set-off today on a 4x4 adventure to the mountains of the Dixam plateau, famous for its plethora of native Dragon Blood trees. Breathtaking views and spectacular photographs are the order of the day! A small community lives in the area, the children love having their photo taken and you can buy many interesting products created from the ‘red blood’ of the famous trees. A great chance to support the local people! Eat lunch in the shade of one of the Dragons before driving on to Qalansiyah Beach and the nearby Detwah lagoon. Here we spend a pleasant, restful afternoon.
Many stingrays live in the area so be careful walking in the shallows; footwear is a must!
Day 10 — Another early rise today and a journey by sea to Shuab Bay. Here we have another fantastic wreck to explore. Warm, crystal clear water will leave us with lasting impressions on our final two dives of the trip. If we’re lucky, a pod of dolphins may accompany our travels, playfully riding the boat’s bow wave. We’ll enjoy lunch aboard before returning in the afternoon to Qalansiyah, and then on to Hadibo by vehicle. We spend our last night in paradise thinking about our imminent return to civilisation...
Day 11 — A morning trip to the Ayhaft Canyon National Park before transferring to the airport for our flight to Abu Dhabi. Transfer to Dubai and our city centre hotel — free time, we suggest delicious Lebanese food overlooking the Burj Khalifa.
Day 12 — Rest after the hardships of Socotra with running water and air conditioning!
Day 13 — Morning flight to Poland.
End of trip.
PRICE per person:
USD 3,950 + flights
Included in the Price:
- return flights between Cairo and Dubai (the cost of this connection is USD 1,220 per person).
- a PCR test on the way back from Socotra to Dubai and further to Poland.
- three nights in Hadibo (two-person rooms).
- campsite accommodation for four nights.
- all transfers in 4 x 4 vehicles.
- all meals and drinking water while on Socotra.
- admission to nature and marine reserves.
- all activities included in the itinerary including diving (tanks and weights) and a local diving guide.
- services of a highly experienced local guide.
- services of an experienced Pazola English speaking guide/organiser/diving instructor 24×7.
- insurance: medical expenses (PLN 120,000), personal accident (PLN 16,000), baggage (PLN 1,600).
Not Included in the Price:
- return flights from your departing location to Cairo. Price depends on the timing of your reservation and departing location. For logistical reasons, these should be purchased through our office.
- meals, accommodation and transfers in Dubai (5 nights in a 5 star hotel around USD 70 per night, transfers from / to Abu Dhabi USD 120 per person).
- tips (around USD 50 -100 per person).
- personal expenses.
- optional culinary attractions.
- visa fees (USD 150/person for Socotra), passport fees, airport fees, excess baggage fees, etc.