All things must come to an end. On our last official day in Socotra and from our campsites at Detwah, we woke up to take a 2 long rocky boat trip to Shuaab.
The waves were rough, as we almost capsized more times I would have wanted to count. But we passed by huge rock formations, countless jellyfish and a few dolphins:
There we quickly dipped in at the most beautiful beach of Socotra:
We then quickly returned back on the 2 hour ride back to shore and after a detour for lunch in a cave, drove onwards to Hadibo.
Before arriving at our hotel, we stopped by at a khat market, where the stimulating narcotic — all the rage in Eastern Africa — is sold:
We then stopped by the streets of the manufacturers of doors; these artists make ornate doors that can be found around many countries in the Middle East.
Each door is unique and is supposed to represent the family that lives inside the house it protects.
Once we arrived back at our hotels, we freshened up and drove to a beach to the east for a farewell ceremonial dance by a few locals.
Then as the next morning arrived, we woke up early at 6:30am to catch our 9:45am flight back to Cairo.
On the wait towards the airport, we decided to make a quick detour to the fish market. Here the fishermen bring a cornucopia of sea creatures and try to sell them to make ends meet, turning this area into Japanese style auctions!
Then I quickly bought a keffiyeh as a keepsake before driving off to the airport where we waited for hours for our notoriously delayed return flight to arrive.
Time to begin the next monsoon!
- At time of posting in Hadibo, Socotra, it was 26 °C -
Humidity: 78% | Wind Speed: 16km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear
After breakfast we took a stroll through the village this morning, including visit to the local garden where they plant new Dragon’s Blood trees.
Then from Dixsam we took an early morning drive west, passing by a few abandoned Soviet tanks from the days when Socotra Island was under communist rule.
We headed onwards to Qalansiya, the second biggest setttlement on the island. We made a quick stop here for supplies and a quick snack.
We then drove a few minutes east to hike across the gorgeous low tides of Detwah Lagoon.
Then here at the Detwah Eco-campsite (which is simply a big patch of sand and shrubbery) we made our tents:
After lunch and 2 hours of sitting around, we hiked around the cliffs of the lagoon to pay a visit to Abdullah, a man living with his family (who was nowhere to be seen…) in a cave since a hurricane.
He’s been cooking fresh seafood and entertaining visitors in his humble abode for years.
We even joined him on a sunset stroll through the lagoon, munching on his literally freshly caught sea urchin (aka unni!), crab, and puffer fish for dinner.
One of my favorite moments of the trip so far:
- At time of posting in Detwah, Socotra, it was 26 °C -
Humidity: 78% | Wind Speed: 13km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear
This morning we woke up to a glorious morning on Dixsam Plateau:
After breakfast and accompanied by our new local friends, we drove a bumpy ride down to Wadi Derhur, a former famous camping spot before a major storm destroyed everything at the site:
From here we hiked through Fermahin – a forest of Dragon’s Blood trees.
We then returned back to the village for lunch, this time with freshly killed goat:
After lunch we drove towards the Southern coast at Nogud, which reminded me of the cliffs in Cape Town, South Africa.
Stopping at the big sand dunes of Sahek and Hayf at Amak Beach, we took a brief swim in the sea.
Nearby is the Cave of Dagub:
We then returned for dinner and overnight in Dixsam, surrounded by Dragon’s Blood trees.
- At time of posting in Nogud, Socotra, it was 26 °C -
Humidity: 13% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: clear
On day 4 we woke up at 7am for breakfast and rainy Habido:
…where the spotty WiFi is best caught on the rooftop:
…and where the goats love to eat our paper…
After breakfast, we made a detour to Ayhaft National Park to peek at a canyon.
After setting off for what I felt was an unnecessary hike, we all soon realized we had made a poorly timed decision as we soon got rained on and a flash flood prevented us from crossing back over to our vehicles. Yikes!
Luckily we waited for the current to slow down for about only 30 minutes before risking the ferry over.
After 3 crossings, we found salvation and drove onwards to the Dixsam Plateau, the most famous spot for the Dragon’s Blood trees.
Along the way we stopped for a scenic lunch outside:
Then we drove slowly towards Shehahon’s viewpoint.
Oddly at this point a local villager elder threw a rock at one of the tourists ahead of us for accidentally driving on his goat pastures. We just played with the kids as the drama ensued behind us:
We then set up our tents before having dinner, mingling with the folks of the local Socotri village as they performed improv for us while appropriately high on khat.
- At time of posting in Dixsam, Socotra, it was 26 °C -
Humidity: 79% | Wind Speed: 31km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear
I woke up the next morning at 5am to a lazy sunrise over the beach.
After a perfunctory breakfast, about half the group set off for the steep, rocky, and arduous 2 hour hike up to Hoq’s Cave.
This cave is one of the most important spots on the island and the closest you can get to visiting an alien planet.
It’s a long haul. Pack tons of water and don’t carry too much stuff!
Once you reach it, you earned the views: the cave is located near Saqra Village with its entrance overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Once inside and journeying over 1km into its belly, it feels like you’ve stumbled upon the very planet that inspired H.R. Giger’s Alien series.
There are even Alien eggs here!
We journeyed nearly 45 minutes to reach the very end allowed for visitors:
Afterwards we backtracked out and headed back downhill another 2 hours back to the village.
There we caught our rides back to the beach where we then had lunch, lazily bundled our tents, and drove down to the Dihamri Marine Protected Area where we were supposed to snorkel and join the local fishermen to catch some fish for dinner.
But alas, the tide was too strong here so we sulked our way back for our overnight stay at our hotel in Habido.
There we had the unfortunate news that despite being the only hotels in Socotra, neither does laundry. So for the first time ever, I resorted to DIY before heading to bed:
After pooped out from both yesterday’s sand dune stairmaster 9000 workout and the journey to Mars today, I passed out at 8:30pm for a much needed 10 hours catch-up sleep.
- At time of posting in Hoq Cave, it was 28 °C -
Humidity: 16% | Wind Speed: 16km/hr | Cloud Cover: hot
The next morning we woke up to this lovely town of Habido.
Next door we packed up our gear and had an atmospheric morning breakfast taking it all in outside:
Then we began our drive along the northeastern coast:
We then headed for Homhil National Park, famous for its Dragon’s blood trees which cannot be found anywhere else.
While the Dragon Blood trees get all the attention, many other impressive forms of unique flora can also be found here, such as the cucumber tree:
or the bottle tree:
After an hour’s walk we arrived at a crystal-clear pool with a view over the whole southern part of Socotra.
We then hiked back for lunch:
After lunch we drove 2 hours on to Arher, where giant desert sand dunes meet the sea:
Then it was free time. Some of us climbed the 300m-high sand dune just to say we did.
Although it’s much harder than you think.
The views from the top:
Afterwards we had dinner and camped out on the sand Arher. I felt like I was sleeping in a Dutch oven: once a fart goes off, the whole night is ruined. Should I open the tent and let some air in lest some bugs fly in as well? Or should I suffocate by the hand of my own flatulence? Oh the irony!
- At time of posting in Arher, Socotra Island, it was 29 °C -
Humidity: 89% | Wind Speed: 16km/hr | Cloud Cover: cloudy