Date of Trip: January 2012
Socotra. Finally the dream came true and I have been there!
This island is little known, is located in the Indian Ocean, is part of Yemen, but is closer to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
The geographic isolation, recently also the political affairs of Yemen, make it difficult to reach, almost a natural defense mechanism by an inappropriate tourism development.
The links with the mainland of Yemen are guaranteed by flights (Felixairways and Yemenia) but not on a daily basis, so a first step to assess the organization of a visit to Socotra is the day of the week you arrive in Sana’a, Mukalla (or Aden) and then continue on Socotra with local flight.
The second point is the visa; in the past it was just a mere formality customs, but now it has become a bureaucratic process a bit ‘clunky, but it seems to work. I sent a copy of passports to a local agency as well as the international flight information. Soon they sent to me via e-mail a copy of the visa, that later at the immigration office in Sana’a airport was replaced by the original, at the presence of an operator of the agency I contacted for my trip.
After various difficulties on the way to achieve Socotra (Sharjah or Sana’a) my choice was Sana’a: the visit to this city was in the hurry, but enough to enjoy the beautiful architecture of the old city and a beautiful building the periphery. Like many Arab cities Sana’a seemed frantic and a bit ‘chaotic, but not dangerous. In the places I visited (accompanied by local guide) there were never problems of order, nor have I noticed armed guards and police actions of the garrison who could remember the protests seen on TV last year.
And here I am in Socotra, a real natural paradise, where you feel the effect of isolation, not only for wild nature, the absence of invasive man-made structures, but also for the persistence of traditions and lifestyles I do not think you can find anywhere else, so authentic in the population.
With the agency of Socotra have personally arranged my itinerary: I agreed for a few basic services:
– a local hotel in the capital Hadibo not a bit touristy, the day of arrival and departure
– a jeep to visit the island
– a guide, specking English since i cannot speak Arabic
If I was initially puzzled by the idea of having a driver and not drive by myrself, I must admit that at the end alone I could never reach some areas of the island, because of the condition of the roads (? paths!!) and also the lack of maps that could facilitate the orientation, although in such a small island: the same goes for trekking, it is not easy orientation in the absence of marked routes, then I highly recommend you follow a local guide.
The exploration of Socotra was organized through a travel itinerary, with passages from a protected area to another and stops for photos, hiking, swimming, relaxing … whenever I wanted, all the nights I slept in tents, in Camping: It is absolutely necessary to clarify that the campsite island have nothing to do with the super-equipped areas that are in most of the world …here campsites are simply points on the coast or inland, where small semi-permanent structures of stone and / or palm leaves, define a reference for the stay in the shade, have a minimum of water (not drinking water and sometimes salt) and a spartan kitchen that the local operators use to prepare meals. Drinking water, tea and spicy food are always provided in abundance, even if the variety is limited (rice, soup and fish / goat), consistent with the limited resources of the island and the lack of fruit (buy it personally Hadibo).
For each activity, and a description of the most beautiful places I invite you to personal explore the many sites and forums. However, I leave a list of places you cannot miss, allowing you to enjoy unforgettable landscapes and all varieties of endemic flora /fauna making this island so famous: wadi Ayhaft, Dixam plateau, trekking up or down Homhil, Aomak and the long south beaches, the karst cave in Hoq, many beaches on north coast Arher, Delisha, Rosh, the marine reserve in Dihamri and especially Qalansyia village and the Detwah lagoon
Back from Socotra I made a stop in Mukalla, a town on the coast of Yemen, interesting to visit because it is very different from Sana’a for its architecture, some modern, some ancient, vaguely Portuguese style.
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