Socotra dragon blood tree

Socotra Photography Tour

The secret of eternal life shouldn’t be something that’s easy to stumble across and by cleverly hiding it out on Socotra the gods have certainly taken that thought to heart. At 3650 sq km Socotra is easily the largest Yemeni island and traditionally one of the most inaccessible. Lying 510km southeast of the mainland, the island has developed in near total isolation from the rest of the world. Rumoured to have once been a refuge for dragons and the Phoenix, it continues to provide a refuge for all manner of extraordinary fauna and flora, much of which is found nowhere else.

“The Galapagos of Indian Ocean”

Because of the number of its endemic plants and creatures, it’s been described as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’. While this is a little optimistic, there is no denying that Socotra is a unique and otherworldly island. It’s the kind of place where people speak a language unknown to anyone else, where the knowledge of how to make fire by rubbing sticks together is still common and where the elderly recall days when money didn’t exist. – Lonely Planet

TOUR INFO

Dates 10 – 20 December, 2024 – Confirmed
1 – 11 April, 2025 – 3 spots open
Duration11 days / 10 nights
Group sizeDec 24 – 6 guests
Apr 25 – 9 guests
Price$7200
Single Supplement not applicable
ProLuka Esenko & Jeremy Woodhouse
ArrivalAbu Dhabi Airport
DepartureAbu Dhabi Airport

We advise you to be reasonably fit as we will be hiking outdoors every day photographing landscapes

Socotra photography tour ITINERARY

This Socotra photography tour itinerary is an indication of what we will do. It is very flexible and we may change things.

Day 1:
Dubai | Hadiboh | Delisha Beach

Upon your arrival at the airport, we will transport you to your hotel in Hadiboh, the largest town on Socotra, nestled against the backdrop of the Hajhir Mountains. Hadiboh is the island’s hub, equipped with modern conveniences like hot running water, stable electricity, and cell service, providing a comfortable base at places like the Summerlands Hotel. In the afternoon, we’ll head to Delisha Beach, just a half-hour drive away on good roads. Here, you can relax on pristine white sands, swim in the crystal-clear sea or the freshwater lagoon, and if you’re up for it, climb the towering sand dune for spectacular views of the beach. Delisha Beach, with its resident army of crabs, offers a perfect blend of leisure and adventure to start your Socotra experience.

Day 2:
Qalansyia | Detwah Lagoon

Today, we’ll journey to the western part of Socotra to visit the quaint fishing town of Qalansyia. This “second city” of Socotra features traditional Socotri houses, narrow alleyways, and a bustling beach dotted with colorful fishing boats. After exploring Qalansyia, we will head to the nearby Detwah Lagoon, a marine protected area celebrated for its stunning landscape. Here, a brilliant white sandy spit curves into the turquoise Arabian Sea, while a serene blue lagoon forms a perfect backdrop, offering some of the best views on the island. This location is not only breathtaking but also provides excellent opportunities for swimming and exploring the vibrant marine life in the lagoon.

Day 3:
Golden Sands of Shu’ab and Dolphins

After enjoying breakfast in Detwah, we’ll embark on a scenic boat trip to Shu’ab Beach, a remote part of Socotra’s west coast. During our journey, we may have the delightful opportunity to encounter Spinner Dolphins and watch flocks of cormorants in flight. Upon arrival at Shu’ab Beach, known for its pristine white sands and vibrant reefs, we will enjoy a lunch by the sea. The afternoon will be spent exploring this beautiful area, where the marine life is abundant and the surroundings are tranquil. After a day filled with natural wonders and wildlife, we’ll return to Detwah to relax and reflect on our adventures.

Day 4:
Dixam Plateau and Firmhin

After breakfast, we will set out in our 4×4 vehicle to explore the Dixam Plateau, a prime location for encountering the iconic Dragon’s Blood trees. Here, we’ll learn about the resin of these trees, which is harvested and utilized by the locals. The plateau is also the habitat for the rare and endemic Socotra Bunting, with an estimated population of 1,000 pairs. We’ll embark on a hike down to Durhur Canyon, descending to the wadi for a lunch beside the refreshing freshwater pools, where you may take a swim.

In the afternoon, our adventure continues as we hike to Firmhin, the world’s largest forest of Dragon’s Blood trees. At Firmhin, we will visit a local couple in their Bedouin-style home. They will demonstrate how they collect and use the resin from the Dragon’s Blood trees, providing a deep insight into the cultural practices surrounding this unique species. This day promises a full immersion into the natural and cultural wonders of Socotra, from breathtaking landscapes to intimate cultural exchanges.

Day 5:
Dixam Plateau and Skand Mountain Hike

Today offers a unique opportunity to explore the Dragon’s Blood trees perched along the edge of the canyon. For those seeking a more adventurous pursuit, we have arranged an optional 6-hour trek to Skand Mountain with a local guide. The journey will take us through the heart of the Hajhir Mountains, culminating at the summit of Skand, the tallest peak on the island. From this vantage point, you will be treated to panoramic views of the sea from both the north and south coasts of Socotra.

The region is rich in biodiversity, home to more than 150 endemic plant species. As we traverse the mountain, we will pass by striking rock formations and a variety of unique flora including bottle and cucumber trees. The trek not only promises breathtaking scenery but also the chance to interact with local inhabitants, offering a glimpse into their lives and the natural beauty that surrounds them. This day is designed for a deep dive into the natural wonders and cultural textures of Socotra.

Day 6:
Homhil Protected Area

We will explore the enchanting Homhil Protected Area, capturing its unique landscapes through our lenses. Amidst the rugged terrain, we’ll photograph the distinctive Dragon’s Blood Trees, frankincense, and desert roses. Our journey will also take us to vibrant natural pools, where the interplay of water and rock creates serene, picturesque scenes. This visit promises a showcase of Socotra’s unique biodiversity and stunning natural beauty.

Day 7:
Homhil and Infinity pool

We will dedicate the day to photographing the ethereal forests of Dragon’s Blood and Frankincense trees on Socotra Island. For those feeling adventurous, we will also embark on a 1-hour hike to the “Infinity Pool,” a secluded freshwater swimming hole where the stunning natural surroundings offer yet another beautiful photographic opportunity. This day promises a blend of tranquility and exploration, capturing the essence of Socotra’s unique landscapes.

Day 8:
Arher Beach

We will spend our day at the stunning Arher Beach, where the dramatic intersection of massive sand dunes and the turquoise sea offers a breathtaking backdrop for photography. Early risers can capture the sublime beauty of sunrise, as the light plays over the dunes and sparkles on the waves. For those up for a little adventure, climbing the sand dunes provides a panoramic vantage point for sweeping coastal shots.

Day 9:
Arher Beach and
Ras Irisseyl

We will drive to Ras Irisseyl, the remote beach located on the northeast coast of Socotra. Our visit includes exploring a local fishing village where we can photograph the fishermen as they mend their nets or haul in their boats—a vibrant display of local life and culture. Additionally, we will have the unique opportunity to capture images of a whale skeleton that the waves have carried in from the Indian Ocean. This day offers a rich blend of cultural immersion and natural wonders, perfect for adding unique and compelling photos to our collection. 

We will spend the rest of the day at Arher Beach, immersed in photographing its diverse natural wonders. Our lenses will focus on the majestic sand dunes, capturing their curves and contours under changing light. We’ll also aim to photograph the soaring Egyptian vultures overhead and the various shore and sea birds that frequent the area. Additionally, the playful ghost crabs scurrying across the sand will provide charming and humorous subjects.

Day 10:
HADIBOH

We will start our day with one final sunrise at Arher Beach, capturing the early light as it illuminates the sand and sea. After soaking in the serene morning atmosphere, we’ll drive to Hadiboh, the capital of Socotra. In the afternoon, we’ll have time for some last-minute shopping, offering a chance to find unique local crafts and souvenirs. Our day concludes with dinner at a local restaurant, where you’ll have the opportunity to savor the distinctive flavors of Socotri bread, renowned for its delicious taste. This itinerary combines the natural beauty of Socotra with the vibrant culture and culinary delights of its capital.

Day 11:
Departure from Socotra | Abu Dhabi

After an early breakfast, we will take to the streets of Hadiboh for a morning of photography. We’ll visit the local produce and fish market, a vibrant scene perfect for capturing genuine portraits and the bustling local life. After immersing ourselves in the colors and activities of the market, we will transfer to Socotra Airport for our flight back to Abu Dhabi. This final morning in Hadiboh provides a rich opportunity to document the daily rhythm and culture of Socotra before our departure.

Included

Round trip tickets to/from Abu Dhabi – Socotra – Abu Dhabi , Yemen/Socotri Visa, Accommodation & Camping gear, 4×4 vehicles and drivers, English local guide, well trained and experienced guide, All meals and water throughout the trip, Protected areas entry fees, Boat ride to Shu’ab beach

ACCOMMODATION

In Socotra, hotels are not available at most places and we will be camping at well maintained campsites. All camping gear (tents, cooking supplies, mattresses, etc,) will be provided but we recommend that you bring your own sleeping bag.

Notes

Electricity is rare commodity in Socotra. We will not have it available every day so bring enough memory cards and camera batteries for at least couple of days. We are assured that there will be a generator at our disposal. You will also be able to charge devices in the vehicles

There is virtually no internet on the island so you’ll have to wait till you get back to Dubai before you can share you stunning images with the world. You might be able to check email and use messaging services on the Socotra 3G network when you have signal (available around most of the major towns). The Summerlands Hotel has wifi. It’s slow, but it works. 

Visa requirements

A Yemeni visa is required for most nationalities wishing to visit Socotra. In order to obtain a visa for Socotra as a tourist, you will need to send us a good scanned copy of your passport which we will then forward to our tour operator in Socotra. The visa will be issued through the Yemeni Ministry of the Interior’s Immigration Department in Socotra. 

Yemen is one of several Arab League countries that takes part in the boycott of travel to Israel. If you have any Israeli visas, passport stamps, arrival/departure cards, or Egyptian or Jordanian stamps issued on a border with Israel, you may be deported from Yemen. 

Socotra Photography Tour

OPTIONAL EXTENSIONS

We recommend to book at least one night in Abu Dhabi both before and after Socotra photography tour. Abu Dhabi is an excellent photography destination and easy to explore on your own. Let us know if you would like to extend as a guided trip – if enough interest we will organise some amazing photography at Abu Dhabi’s and Dubai’s top locations.

EmBark on this once-in-a-lifetime journey to Socotra island and Photograph this natural gem before it gets discovered by masses!