The Socotra archipelago is an oasis of calm, isolated in the northwest Indian Ocean off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia. It is a land of high mountains, pristine white beaches, and one of the world’s densest concentrations of plant and animal life found anywhere on the planet.
From June to September every year, strong monsoon winds hit the islands, contributing to Socotra’s inaccessibility. This inaccessibility has been a blessing for Socotra in recent years. There have been very low levels of human impact on the environment of the island compared to other global biodiversity hotspots. The island’s population remains small (around 60,000), and was a barter only economy as late as 1990. The island’s isolation also means that Socotra has been insulated from the ongoing civil war on mainland Yemen, making Socotra a safe and welcoming destination for the handful of tourists which make their way to the island each year.
FLORA & FAUNA
Socotra Island was designated a ‘Man and Biosphere reserve’ in 2003 and placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008. There are thought to be 825 species of plants on the 3,796 km² island, of which 37% are endemic. Plants have been central to the island’s culture and trade throughout history; these include variants of commiphora, aloe, boswelia and dragon’s blood tree, which produce various resins including myrrh, frankincense and aloe. Since antiquity, dragon’s blood resin been used for lacquering wood, medicine, cosmetics and in dyes. In fact, Aristotle is rumoured to have recommended that Alexander the Great conquer Soqotra in order to take control of the aloe trade.
Socotra is also an important home to many rare species of animals. This includes the endangered Egyptian vulture - which is declining globally but thrives on the island with a population of 800 pairs - a unique iridescent Tarantula called the Blue Baboon, as well as truly bizarre legless lizards and numerous endemic species of other reptiles, crabs and molluscs.
One of the best things about going on an ISHKAR trip is the group of people with whom you travel. Our trips attract informed, critically minded and adventurous people from all around the world.
Some of you will be drawn by the prospect of spending time in the remote wilderness, others will be drawn by the chance to learn about a fascinating and poorly understood part of the world.
We get to know everyone who applies to our trips over the phone. In this way we can curate groups guaranteed to enjoy sharing this extraordinary experience together. What unites everyone is the same curious spirit and desire to get far away from the typical tourist trails.
The price for this once in a lifetime trip is $3990. The price will include all food, transport and accommodation whilst in country. We will be assisted by guides who know the region inside out, providing access to areas rarely seen by tourists.
Email to apply now: email@example.com
Book a consultation with us: Click here.
Call us on: +44 7946 268 10
* Where international payments are due, we request that you ensure the full amount is received, after all bank charges have been levied as per the price and currency stated on the invoice stated.
We are uncompromising when it comes to the safety and security of our travellers and will not hesitate to alter plans or cancel trips due to changing security dynamics. Due to Socotra's remote location, it has been insulated entirely from the conflict on mainland Yemen. We do not travel to mainland Yemen.
Through working with our team of local guides we are able to stay abreast of any changes to the security situation if there were any.
Please see our Travel Security page for more information.
Ali has spent the majority of his life on Socotra. After studying in Malaysia, he decided to return to Socotra to work at the nexus of tourism and the environment. He has worked for various international environmental organisations on Socotra including the Environmental Protection Authority and the UN Global Environmental Facility.
Although Italian, Tarim has spent much of his life growing up in Sana’a, where he learned to speak the local dialect near perfectly. From an early age he began routinely visiting Socotra, where he gained a passion for zoology and wildlife conservation. During his time in Yemen, Tarim contributed to renowned international publications such as Al Jazeera, The Guardian and Esquire on the topic of wildlife conservation in the Arabian Peninsula.
ISHKAR Team Member
Your ISHKAR point of contact for the trip is Clare Doolan. If you have any queries about the trip:
Book a consultation: Click here.
Clare Doolan ~ Head of Travel
Clare grew up on a big island in the middle of the Pacific (Australia) acutely aware that a bigger world awaited. For the past fifteen years, she has dedicated her personal and professional life to travel, looking for the backstory of places that get overlooked by guidebooks and google maps. Before joining ISHKAR, she spent a decade developing travel experiences for Botswana and Zimbabwe’s high-end safari industry. Though Clare has travelled widely across every continent other than Antarctica, she’s most fond of forays into Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
+44 (0) 7984 102 639 (whatsapp)
01 / Dragonblood tree
Follow a Socotri ethnobotanical expert into the world’s densest dragon’s blood tree forest to observe the careful selection and harvesting of natural resin, and learn about its variety of valuable uses.
02 / Visit nature's pharmacy
Visit a traditional pharmacy where you will learn from a Socotri ethnobotanist about the medical uses of various plants and animals. Visit an apiary to sample some of the bee products used in healthcare and learn about the close relationship between bees and the local flora.
03 / Highland
Hike up into the alpine meadows of the Hajhir mountains alongside goat herders. Learn from them about the arrival and importance of livestock on the island, transhumance, and its impact on local flora.
04 / Hoq cave
Marvel at the stalactites and sample the rumoured-to-be healing waters from the underground pool. Delve into the history of pictograms dating back to 1st century BC which are believed to have been made by people from India, Southern Arabia, Ethiopia, Ancient Greece and Bactria.