The Isle of Flora and Fauna

Soqotra

  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna
  • Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna

Soqotra: The Isle of Flora and Fauna

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Journey with experts in ornithology and ethnobotany across the jagged mountains and pristine white beaches of Yemen's island, Soqotra for 8 days.  The island is home to some of the world’s most unusual looking plants and animals.  Join us this November on an extraordinary adventure as we lead our pioneering trip to the island.

The total price for the eight-day trip is $3490.  We interview all those that apply to join the trip.  Once selected, participants will be required to pay a $650 deposit to secure their place on the trip.

To express your interest and for further information, please contact us at: explore@ishkar.com, or book a consultation with us by clicking on the button above.

What?

A rare opportunity to journey around Soqotra – the sparsely populated Yemeni island of mountains, isolated coastal landscapes and one of the densest concentrations of unique plant and animal species found anywhere on the planet.

We will be accompanied by Soqotri experts who will introduce us in to the wealth of endemic species on the island.

Where?

Soqotra, Yemen.

When?

We will be operating an 8-day trip in November 2021. Please get in touch for more precise dates.

Who?

The trip is open to all adventurous and inquisitive minds who are eager to learn about Soqotra’s unique environment.

A basic level of fitness will be required in order to hike for up to 6 hours over rough terrain. We will be camping throughout the trip, so being comfortable with sleeping outdoors is also a must!

We will be a small team of up to 8 people, accompanied throughout by our guide and a member of the ISHKAR team.

Due to high demand we interview everyone who applies to join ISHKAR trips.  Your group travel experience is as important to us as the destination experience.

Cost & Booking Information

The total price for the trip is $3490*. A non-refundable deposit of $650 is required to secure your place on the trip.

Additional costs:

Flights to Soqotra - $800

Visa - $150

Please note that by paying the deposit, you agree to abide by our Terms & Conditions.

For further information, contact us at: explore@ishkar.com, or to book a consultation with us: Click here

* 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.

Preorders explained

If an item is out of stock you are able to preorder the item, so that you're first in line when its back. Once you have preordered an item we guarantee the order to be shipped to you within four months. If the item is delivered outside this window we will provide you with your money back. Often the order will arrive well within this four month period. Contact preorders@ishkar.com for more accurate information on when orders for this product are likely to be ready.

Terms & Conditions

Please visit our Terms & Conditions page for further information.

For information relating travel during the time of COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Travel Policy.

Detail

OUR DESTINATION

The Soqotra 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 Soqotra’s inaccessibility. This inaccessibility has been a blessing for Soqotra 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 Soqotra has been insulated from the ongoing civil war on mainland Yemen, making Soqotra a safe and welcoming destination for the handful of tourists which make their way to the island each year.

FLORA & FAUNA

Soqotra 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.

Soqotra 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.

(c) Tarim Contin-Kennedy


GROUP TRAVEL

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

The price for this once in a lifetime trip is $3490.  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: explore@ishkar.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.

(c) Tarim Contin-Kennedy


TRAVEL SECURITY

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 Soqotra'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.

Your Guides

Ali Yahya

Ali has spent the majority of his life on Soqotra.  After studying in Malaysia, he decided to return to Soqotra to work at the nexus of tourism and the environment.  He has worked for various international environmental organisations on Soqotra including the Environmental Protection Authority and the UN Global Environmental Facility.

Tarim Contin-Kennedy

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 Soqotra, 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.

(c) Sebastian Opitz

ISHKAR Team Member

Your ISHKAR point of contact for the trip is Zanna Baker.  If you have any queries about the trip:

Email: explore@ishkar.com
Book a consultation: Click here.

Zanna Baker ~ Head of Travel
Zanna joined the team in ISHKAR's early travel days.  In her former life, she worked for extended period all over from Norway to Antarctica, Somalia , Jordan and Uganda, managing a variety of projects.  She is on hand to deal with any of your trip logistics and concerns. 

Highlights

01 / Dragonblood tree
resin harvesting

Follow a Soqotri 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 Soqotri 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
goat herding

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.

Testimonial

Very glad to be part of the first ISHKAR Afghan travel. It’s fantastic spending 10 days with ISHKAR staff and our team members. We are helping each other during the trip throughout to explore the wonderful landscape and culture in Afghanistan. It was an unforgettable experience in my life. Thanks ISHKAR and my team members for delivering this travel into reality

Chenhu Liu - Bamiyan with Andrew Quilty 2019

I was not centred around photography-- the experience was so much more than that. [Michael] did a great job going beyond his photography skills and giving context and stories about the locations as well. He was always open to help. I consider him a great friend and helpful teacher

Jacob Schmidt,
ISHKAR Traveller 2021

Following the steps of amazing local individuals, you discover a great community. Skiing in Bamyan is paying tribute to their difficult challenge: bringing back Afghanistan brightest sides to the frontline.

Oscar Fridel - Ski Afghanistan 2020

If Soqotra is part of Yemen, is it safe to travel there?

The island’s remote location has insulated it entirely from the conflict on mainland Yemen. You may notice military bases on Soqotra, but these are not involved in the fighting.

At ISHKAR ensuring the safety of our travellers is at the heart of what we do. For more information surrounding our approach to security read this page.

What is the situation on mainland Yemen?

Yemen’s internationally recognised government (supported by a Saudi led military coalition) and Iran- backed Houthi rebels are fighting against each other for control of the country.  This conflict has been ongoing for 7 years and is often referred to by analysts as a proxy war; Iran against Saudi Arabia.  The conflict has displaced more than one million people and has resulted in what the UN has called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

The USA is involved in attempts to broker a ceasefire in the country and more recently Iran and Saudi Arabia have held direct  talks in Iraq.  The talks aimed to open up diplomatic channels and therefore reduce tension in the region

How will Covid-19 affect the trip?

In order to protect both our travellers and those that our travellers come into contact with, we mandate a strict set of COVID-19 protocols which include social distancing, usage of hand sanitiser and the wearing of face coverings.   Our COVID-19 procedures are based on up to date advice from the World Health Organisation in addition to following local requirements. Along with our security information, we ensure to send out our COVID-19 procedures document to every traveller.

All travellers (regardless of vaccination status) are required to obtain a negative PCR test result within 72 hours prior to departure.  Within 24 hours prior to departure travellers (regardless of vaccination status) must also obtain proof of a negative rapid antigen test result.   Proof of both these tests must be sent to ISHKAR prior to departure, and its cost will covered by the traveller, not ISHKAR.

Should ISHKAR decide to cancel a trip as a result of COVID-19 or should a traveller be unable to take part in the trip as a result of COVID-19, you will be offered options including a full refund as per our COVID-19 Travel Policy.  Any further questions, please take a look at our COVID-19 Travel FAQs, and our generic COVID-19 Protocols, or contact a member of the team: explore@ishkar.com

What is the weather like in November?

Soqotra has a tropical desert climate, influenced by the monsoon winds that blow from the north-east in November. The monthly average rainfall is 18mm over an average of 3 days (very low). It’s mostly dry, but there may be intermittent showers. Temperatures can rise to 30 °C during the day and drop to 15 °C at night in the mountains.

Where can I see the exact itinerary?

We do not publish our itineraries online.  We will give further information about the itinerary upon enquiry. Please write to explore@ishkar.com to request the trip information pack.

What is included in the cost?

The cost includes all accommodation, guiding, road transport, breakfast, lunch and dinner and entrance fees.  It does not include international flights into and out of Soqotra, visa fees, insurance, excess luggage charges, cameras, alcohol, additional food and drinks, medical expenses, tipping.

When do I need to book?

As early as possible, this trip is likely to be booked up fast.  A deposit of $650 will secure your place, and the final balance needs to be paid 60 days prior to departure. You can pay this online, or via bank transfer directly to us.

How easy is it to get a visa?

We will apply for your visa on your behalf - the standard cost of the visa is $150 per person.

When do I need to book my flights?

If you are thinking of applying, please email us at explore@ishkar.com and we will send you the flights you will need to book, in order to ensure that all travellers’ arrivals are coordinated for arrival into the UAE prior to our flight to Soqotra.

How much does the return flight cost from the UAE - Soqotra?

The return flight costs $800 per person.  ISHKAR will arrange for this flight, however you will be invoiced separately for this along with your visa.

Do I need special insurance?

You are required to have full travel insurance specific to the region and the activities. 

If you are unsure if your existing travel insurance policy will cover you, we can suggest specialist insurance companies.

We use Battleface and highly recommend it. Other options include (but are not limited to): Clements, World Nomads, Petersen, Cambell Irvine or The Universal Insurance Co Ltd.

Will I be able to travel on my own?

We will stay as a group for the duration of the trip. You may choose to travel on your own before the start or after the finish of the trip, but whilst travelling with ISHKAR you are requested to remain with the group.

Do I need any vaccinations?

Soqotra is often considered in line with Yemen, however is not currently facing the same health risks as the mainland. Please speak with your doctor to ensure you have the correct vaccinations for remote travel on Soqotra.  

What do I need to bring?

We will send you a more detailed handbook before leaving, including recommended reading and clothing.

Where will we be staying?

We will be camping throughout the trip - all camping equipment will be provided, but you may wish to bring your own sleeping bag.  

Can I come on my own?

Yes of course! Individuals and small groups are equally welcome. Personally, we also think this could be the perfect trip to experience with a friend, parent, child, or partner!

Can I book even if I don’t live in the UK?

Yes of course, our travellers always come from a mix of different countries. You will just need to arrive in the UAE in time to catch the flight to Hadibo.

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