The island of Socotra is truly a hidden paradise in the world. With only two flights a week, it’s pretty hard to get to – and the tourists are very limited. There are just a couple hotels only in the capital city, so you must become one with nature and sleep under the starry skies. But hey – it’s absolutely worth it, the island’s beauty is unmatched!
Socotra is an island in the Arabian sea, territory of Yemen. It has a population of about 70,000 people – but it’s about 100 km long, so the people are pretty spread out. Its capital city is Hadiboh – the only hotels on the island are located there, but there’s also a good hospital in case something happens (which was very important for me before visiting).
Table of Contents
Why is Socotra so Special
There are many, many reasons for you to put Socotra on your bucket list. Here’s just a few:
The Socotra Dragon Blood Trees
They are absolutely gorgeous and endemic to the island. Even though you might spot a few similar trees around the world (as in Madeira and the Canary Islands), Socotra has thousands of them, you can easily get lost in the forests. They are called “dragon blood” trees because if you damage their bark, you will see red sap oozing from it. Legend is that this red sap was dragon blood.
These trees take dozens of years to grow. It takes between 8 and 10 years for a dragon blood tree to reach just 1 meter! Please approach them with care and do your best not to damage these beauties. Even though there are huge forests around the island, it’s pretty rare to see baby dragon trees or even teenage ones. The trouble is the goats – they’re not native to the island, but right now most of them are not domesticated. Their favourite food, unfortunately, is baby dragon trees. Thus, the locals have tried to take steps to try and help this situation – there are a couple of dragon tree growth farms around, where you can go in and see the tiny growing beauties.
The Bottle Trees
These trees bloom during late February and March and are also endemic – they certainly play a huge part in making this a true hidden paradise in the world. However, you cannot find them anywhere else in the world and their beauty is unmatched. The first time I saw them, the urge to go and never stop hugging them was pretty strong. Their trunks indeed are very smooth to the touch, but please be careful not to damage them, they are endangered. It was a very sad sight to see some bottle trees in Socotra with initials inscribed on them – please never do that!
Very Few Tourists
The island of Socorta is pretty remote. It only has two flights a week – one of which is a tourist one. The tickets get sold out almost immediately after release, so you must have made a booking with a local agent in advance. Thus, there are few tourists around the island, which makes it for an even better experience. You definitely won’t see the crowds as in Rome or London, for example, you’ll become one with nature.
The Night Sky
Socotra is a true hidden paradise in the world – not just because of its endemic species, but also because of its gorgeous dark skies. If you manage to visit during a new Moon, you’re in for a treat! You can easily spot the Milky way core with a naked eye, and you will see thousands of stars. Just lay down and enjoy this, nowadays it’s hard to find such spots in the world. The island is a perfect place for astrophotography, so if you get your camera, don’t forget a tripod as well.
Which Month is Best for Socotra
The very best time to visit Socotra is in the end of February or in March – this is when the bottle trees are in full bloom. You can also spot the pink flowers in April if you go somewhere a bit higher, though. From June to September it’s considered windy season – pretty unpleasant, that’s when half of the island’s population usually go to mainland Yemen. October and November, however, are perfect for hiking – the weather is a bit more chilly and you can’t feel the sun that much. There’s also less tourists around.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Socotra
Even though the island Socotra, this gorgeous hidden paradise in the world, is very remote, a trip is quite expensive. It can cost you anywhere between $2000 and $3000, sometimes even more, especially if you’re on a dedicated photography trip as I was. This price actually includes the return ticket from Abu Dhabi to Socotra. It’s much easier to go on an organised trip with an agency despite the cost, and to be honest – it’s totally worth it. Here’s what will be provided in that price for your 7-day stay:
- Vehicles – your group will have your own SUVs, which are much needed for the dirt roads around. Yes, there are also good roads on the island, but the very best places around the island are mostly remote. Our group had a vehicle for every 3 people, so it was very comfy. Don’t forget to bring your own USB car charger with multiple USB plugs, the vehicles will be the only place you can charge your travel gear!
- Tents, mattresses and pillows – honestly, this was very convenient. Every time we changed camp (which was, like, every day), our tour guides helped with the tents and put the mattresses and pillows inside. Our guides used real mattresses, so it was very comfortable.
- Food – every day you will have breakfast, lunch and dinner – cooked on the spot! Our cooks had a separate vehicle and they also brought tables and chairs – really, really great to have. The food was different – lots of veggies and fruits (watermelon, apples, even mangoes), rice, and meat of course, sometimes fish/tuna, and even potatoes. They cooked really delicious pastries and their local thin bread for breakfast as well. The best part? These pastries came with NUTELLA and local honey (which is quite expensive – I think around $30 per jar!). Sometimes, when we were near a city, they brought us Pepsi, which was like elixir from the Gods, as we were shooting the whole night and super tired. The guides will also provide you with coffee, but if you have a favorite brand, you can bring a few little packs with you from home.
- Water – you will be provided with ample water, though it won’t be individually bottled. The guides take large jugs and you can fill in from there. Just in case, take a water filter with you (even though I didn’t have any issues). See the packing list below for my recommendation.
I personally went on an amazing astrophotography trip with Benjamin Barakat, follow him on Instagram for even more amazing places to visit. He was a really great guide and I’m very happy my visit was with him! Our main local guide was Sultan, he speaks perfect English and his whole team is amazing (DM me for his contacts!)
How to Get to Socotra – a Hidden Paradise in the World
Getting to Socotra is not hard, but the spots are very limited. There are two flights a week. The first one is a direct weekly flight from Abu Dhabi which is considered a humanitarian aid one. I honestly thought that the plane would look different than what we’re used to – well, in fact it was better than the planes of most low-cost airlines! You will also get a meal on the flight but be careful, it might be a bit spicy. The second flight is from Cairo and it goes through mainland Yemen – usually the locals use this one when going back during windy season.
These flights are SECRET. I’m not joking at all – you cannot find these flights on any website for purchase. I even went on Abu Dhabi airport’s website departures before our flight – nope, it was not there at all! Okay, then, how do you purchase a ticket?! The truth is – you don’t. In order to get to Socotra, this hidden paradise in the world, it needs to be with a local agency (read the next section to see how you can organise it yourself). You contact them first, pay a down payment and they will purchase the tickets for you. They will also arrange your visa and everything you need on the island, as I described above.
Something very important – you will probably be rejected for a visa if you have a stamp on your passport from Israel. You might even be denied entry to Yemeni territory. Thus, if you’re planning a trip to Israel, leave it for after Socotra. That said, I think the locals in Israel know that their stamps lead to rejections of entry to many places in the region, so they usually give out just a tiny piece of paper, rather than stamp your passport. Don’t risk it, though.
Once you get to the airport in Abu Dhabi – you must know that you need to be there 3 hours earlier. You will first go through a line to check your documents and passport. Afterwards you need to get to the real check-in, where you will drop off your bag. Checked-in luggage is included in your ticket, but be careful not to go over the 23 kg allowance, you might have to pay extra.
If you have any questions, you can always DM me on Instagram – @tripswithrosie.
Can I Get to Socotra on my Own
Yes, you actually can! Here are a few tips on how to purchase the flight tickets on your own.
- Return flights – 860 USD per person. As you cannot simply go on a website and find tickets, you need to contact the airline directly. The contact is Emirates Aviation Services (note: totally different than Emirates Airlines). They will give you a bank account for you to transfer the needed funds. The good thing is that they will also help arrange your visa, which is great. As soon as they receive the transfer, they will send you the tickets, and the visas should be issued within a week. (The Yemeni visa costs 150 USD)
- Contacts: You need to contact Emirates Aviation Services on their website – https://emiratesaviationservices.com/contactus.aspx and then you’ll communicate via WhatsApp. The current contact I have is Abdullah – +971 50 671 6175, but you can also use the official form in case there are differences.
- Local guides – 600-800 USD per person: You will also need to book a driver and a cook beforehand on your own. They will arrange for everything you need on the island, as I described above. As I cannot explicitly give their contacts without their permission, you can send me a DM on Instagram and I will give them your number. Again, you will communicate via WhatsApp.
Is Socotra Safe
Yes, Socotra is very safe! In fact, the most dangerous thing on the island is the sun. Honestly, it’s pretty strong! I read somewhere before that there are landmines, so you must stay on the official paths and not diverge – this got me super worried. However, I talked to the locals – there is no such thing, they hadn’t even heard about this.
In terms of wildlife, the most dangerous animal in Socotra is the scorpion. I did see one during our stay, it was high up in the mountains but very far from our camp. That’s why it’s best if you wear your hiking shoes, especially at night – just in case (and do keep your bags closed at all times). I’ve heard there are snakes as well, but I didn’t see any around. Most of the wildlife is afraid of you and will run away, so just don’t touch any of them if you spot them around. This is NOT valid for the goats, though, as one goat even got in our car – they’re cheeky and insolent creatures.
P.S. The tank on this photo was a gift to Socotra from another country, along a few other ones. They were never functional and never used.
Top Tips Before Visiting Socotra
Can I Bring a Drone to Socotra
Yes, you can and even – you MUST! Socotra is a true hidden paradise in the world and you shouldn’t miss taking photos and videos from above. Drones are allowed on Socotra, but they’re not allowed in Abu Dhabi, so you have to be careful. We had a couple of people with drones in our group, but only one was stopped and asked upon entry in Abu Dhabi. He, of course, said that he had a drone when asked. Customs then asked him to leave the drone in a special room (sorry, no idea how it was called exactly) and he could only get it back when leaving Abu Dhabi. Then, after check-in for Socotra, he had to run to the other end of the airport in order to show them his boarding pass and get back his drone. Yes, it’s a hassle, but it’s not like a full confiscation where you would never get your drone back.
Is There Cell Network in Socotra
Socotra is famous for not really having any network coverage, so you have two options – you can do a total digital detox for 1 week (I think we all need that, right?), OR you can get a local SIM card. Once you land in Abu Dhabi airport, there should be small booths around baggage claim or outside. Find out that says ETISALAT – this is the network that has the best coverage in Socotra. Lately, I’ve been travelling with eSIM (super convenient), but you cannot purchase an eSIM for ETISALAT online. However, you should be able to ask them for an eSIM at the airport. I unfortunately used a reseller, so they didn’t offer that option.
You can use this SIM card for both Abu Dhabi and Socotra, which is very useful. Once on Socotra, you will probably have Internet around 40-50% of the time. Ask your tour guides before leaving for the next camp and they will let you know if you’ll have network access there. The network itself is not too stable, though, it would be a challenge to upload Instagram stories. It’s good enough to keep in touch with your loved ones, though, which is more important!
Are There Bathrooms in Socotra
I do get this question from friends that want to visit Socotra, one of the most beautiful world hidden places. Well, yes, there are! Not all camps we stayed in had facilities, of course, but there were still a few that did. On average, it’s very likely that you have a shower every 2-3 days, which is definitely not as bad as I expected. However, bear in mind that the toilets and showers looked pretty bad, but it’s honestly better than I expected. The toilets during the night tend to get full of cockroaches (especially if they had a constant light on), so I just found a different remote spot. To be honest, this is the only time I saw cockroaches, I never saw any outside and none approached my tent. Whew! (I have a pretty bad phobia from spiders and roaches).
How do I Charge my Gear in Socotra
Charging your gear is very tricky in Socotra, this gorgeous hidden paradise in the world. Just below – in the packing list, I’ve listed a few suggestions, but make sure you bring extra power banks with you and more batteries for your camera if possible. You will only be able to charge your devices in the vehicles while driving, with drones being the hardest. They usually require a normal plug, but there are a few different types of generators you can buy that you can plug inside the car. I would highly suggest that you keep your phone in airplane mode most of the time, as constantly searching for a network will drain the battery.
Things to Do in Socotra – a Hidden Paradise in the World
1. Zahek Sand Dunes
The Zahek sand dunes appear quite impressive at first sight – they seem endless! Sure, it’s a challenge walking around them, especially climbing up, but just take off your flip flops and go barefoot. They were first on our own list of things to do in Socotra, even though for most trips they’re somewhere in the middle. The dunes, also sometimes called “Zahaq”, are located in the southern part of Socotra. Our guides and Benjamin Barakat in particular chose a different itinerary than the usual one, so we almost didn’t see any other tourists around.
This is also a great spot to see camels! In the island of Socotra, the camels are wild – they’re not exploited for tourist purposes, so they roam freely around. Of course, they’re rather scared of people and stay off the roads.
2. Aomak Beach – Bioluminescence
Overnight stay: Yes
Cell network: Yes
This beach was our first overnight stay and we were happy to find out that there are facilities – showers and crouch toilets. This is great, because the beach itself is quite humid, and you can also take a dip in the water without worrying about a bathroom afterwards. The most spectacular thing on this beach, however, was the bioluminescence. We didn’t expect it at all – we got up in the middle of the night to shoot the Milky way, but were very surprised to see the blue waves in our foregrounds. Keep an eye out for this – it’s gorgeous!
3. Wadi Dirhur Canyon – the Land of the Vultures
Going up and down this canyon was truly an adventure. We did not hike, rather our SUVs took us down and then up. I must say I was incredibly impressed with our drivers, I’m an excellent driver yet I wouldn’t dare drive on this particular dirt road! We were joking with them how good they are and whether they pass a driving test in Socotra… They laughed and said that when you’re old enough to reach the pedals, you just start driving and that’s it 🤭 Well, I guess this hidden paradise in the world has its own rules!
This canyon is full of vultures. But don’t worry, they’re rather friendly and are not after you… just your food! 😆 The canyon itself is quite, quite impressive, you’ll quickly fall in love with it. We had lunch there and some of us had a dip in its natural pools – a perfect way to escape the scourging sun. Do remember to apply suncream constantly when you’re here, I think that’s the place where my arms burned real bad and 9 months later, I still have a t-shirt tan line 😆.
4. Dixam Plateau – Dragon Tree Forest
Overnight stay: Yes
Cell network: No
Before visiting the plateau, I was so, so eager to see the dragon trees in Socotra. Once we reached it, I saw the hundreds and thousands of dragon trees around, I’ll never forget that moment, it was humbling. There are lots of stunning spots around, we chose to camp near the end of the dirt road, where we were completely alone. It was perfect! We spent the whole night shooting the starry skies, thankfully it only started to get cloudy around sunrise. I’m still not sure how nobody managed to get lost – it was pitch black darkness and we did roam around a lot.
5. Dragon Tree Farm
This was a curious stop on our list of things to do in Socotra. As I mentioned before, the goats are a big problem for the growing dragon blood trees in Socotra – the trees are their favourite food. Thus, the locals have taken steps and are maintaining a few “farms” on the island, where they grow and protect new dragon trees. Unfortunately, very few dragon trees are currently growing on the island.
6. Firmhin Forest
Overnight stay: Yes
Cell network: Yes
Firmhin forest is not too popular among tourists, but it’s honestly incredibly beautiful. You camp a hundred meters from the edge of the canyon, which is just gorgeous not just at sunrise, but at sunset as well. We did spend the night shooting here as well, it was a challenge and a bit scary walking near the edge of the abyss in pitch black darkness, but we were all very careful. There were a couple of lone dragon trees that I absolutely fell in love with, they were a perfect foreground for a panorama of the starry skies.
7. Qalansiyah Beach Viewpoint
This viewpoint is one of most recognizable ones in Socotra – it shows why the island is a true hidden paradise in the world. You do need good shoes to go up the viewpoint, it’s a very short hike (not more than 10 minutes), but it’s quite slippery. I put my hiking shoes, but admired how the locals went up in flip flops, wow! You need to take turns to take photos and videos here, as it’s a tiny path and a tiny spot at the top.
8. Detwah Lagoon and the Mountain
Overnight stay: Yes
Cell network: No (if you walk towards the road, there is some cell network)
Relatively close to the viewpoint is Detwah lagoon – this is where we stayed the night. We did see a little bit of bioluminescence here as well, but it definitely wasn’t as abundant as Aomak beach. The lagoon is very shallow, you can swim here but the water is knee deep and it’s not really worth it. If you do decide to swim, it’s best that you wore water shoes – there are crabs roaming around and maybe a few shells too.
We spent the night shooting the Milky way again – with the impressive backdrop of the mountain right behind the lagoon. It was pretty tough walking around in the knee-deep waters during the night, but it was really worth it for the perfect shot.
9. The Most Beautiful Bottle Tree
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Since we spent two nights at the lagoon, one of the days was spent with a challenging hike. I myself was 11 weeks pregnant, so I decided to skip the hike, unfortunately, as the heat was unbearable. The hike itself was about 45 minutes each way and you definitely need proper shoes to climb the hill. You also need a local to show you the way, as there is no clear path. The reward on top is a bottle tree with the backdrop of the lagoon – a breathtaking sight and something to show you why Socotra is a true hidden paradise in the world. We called this “Daniel Kordan’s tree”, as he was one of the first to photograph it – absolutely inspiring.
10. The Caveman
Another hike you can do from the lagoon is paying a visit to the last caveman. It’s pretty easy, maybe 20 minutes each way, but it was on the edge of the sea, so it wasn’t challenging. I did bring my water shoes here as well, on the way back we decided to walk a bit inside the waters.
The caveman is very interesting. He told us his story – he was born in that cave, but sometimes lives in the nearby village. He will give you tea and oysters and then take you inside the knee-deep water to show you different animals and even give you some raw delicacies to try. It’s a great experience, don’t miss it!
11. Shoab Beach and the Dolphins
After you leave the lagoon, you will usually get up very early in the morning, have breakfast and then head for an adventure. Shoab beach can be reached by a 30-minute boat ride (I believe there’s also a hike, but it’s very challenging) and it’s really beautiful. On the way there you’re very, very likely to see dolphins – don’t forget your drone! Once at the beach, you can take a swim and relax for a bit. If you think you might get seasick – take some medication beforehand (you can bring just a couple of pills from home).
12. The Gyrocopter
Yes, you read that right! In the island of Socotra you can ride a gyrocopter, how cool is that? It’s not too expensive, ask your local guides about this on your first day, so they can arrange it for you later on.
13. Bottle Tree Oasis
Overnight stay: Yes
Cell network: No
The bottle tree oasis, as we called it, is a nameless place in Socotra. I’m honestly not sure where exactly this was, but it was very, very beautiful. We set up our tents right around the bottle trees (but we were very careful with them, of course), spent our evening shooting and got up around sunrise to enjoy the views even more. It’s a secret place and I think not really allowed to camp, so you will find no bathrooms here.
14. Kalysan/Killisan Canyon and Natural Pools
Visiting Kalysan canyon (which you might also encounter around as Killisan canyon) is another very popular thing to do in Socotra. To be honest, compared to everything else we saw in the island, this probably did not place among the top spots. You hike for about 45 minutes downhill (and then uphill, of course), and you can swim in the clear blue waters of the natural pools. Be very careful not to ingest water from these pools, however! Our lovely model and fellow photographer, Violeta, got a stomach bug from there, truly unfortunate, and was feeling pretty bad until the rest of our trip.
15. Arher Beach & White Sand Dunes
Ahrer beach is another perfect place for swimming. Unfortunately, there are no bathrooms here, but there is a spring with freshwater where you can wash up. The water is crystal clear turquoise – totally irresistible. The nearby sand dunes are mesmerising and in my opinion – the best white sand dunes in Socotra. This is definitely one of the things that makes Socotra an incredible hidden paradise on Earth.
Climbing up the sand dunes will take effort – probably 10-15 minutes up, but it’s totally worth it. Once you reach the top, you’re in for an amazingly beautiful view. Spend some time there and take as many photos as you can! If you can go up around sunrise, it’ll be even more gorgeous. The sun sets behind the rocks and the dunes, so the light is not that good here at sunset.
16. Hoq Cave
Socotra is beautiful not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. This hidden paradise in the world holds a few underground secrets – its caves! Hoq cave is probably the most famous cave to visit and to reach it, you need to hike for 1 hour each way. Be very careful, though, as there are scorpions around, so definitely watch your step.
17. The Mountain Lake of Homhil
We didn’t manage to visit this lake, but it’s hauntingly beautiful in photos. I believe it’s pretty hard to reach and it would take up a lot of our time, so we skipped it. If you can, though, ask your guides to include it in your itinerary of things to do in Socotra.
18. Delisha Beach and Shipwreck
Overnight stay: Yes
Cell network: Yes
Delisha beach might be your last stop before you leave the island of Socotra, as it’s relatively close to the airport (and the main road). The beach itself is not as spectacular as the ones you saw before, but it hides the only shipwreck in the island – the ship Gulf Dove wrecked here in 2019. Luckily, there are also bathrooms in this camp, so you can wash up before you hop onto the flight. Some group tours include staying in a hotel in Hadiboh, the capital city, on their final night, but we wanted to shoot the starry skies, so we chose to sleep near the shipwreck.
Socotra Packing List
There are a few different things that are absolutely essential for packing when visiting Socotra, a hidden paradise in the world. Of course, you can go without any of them, but I highly recommend bringing these with you:
- Camera gear – of course, you can’t go to Socotra without a camera! Here’s my go-to choice – Sony A7iii full frame camera and the Sony GM 14/1.8 (the best lens for astrophotography and landscapes!). All of my shots you see here have been taken with this configuration, only my Sony A7iii has been astro-modified. You can DM me on more info about that!
- Water filter – even though your local guides will provide you with clean water, I’d still recommend that you filter it – just in case. You can bring your own filter bottle if you have a travel one, but my favourite is the NatureNova Filter. It can filter 100,000 gallons of water before needing any replacement parts! I personally use it when I go hiking as well and want to have some fresh spring water.
- Reusable water bottle – in all cases you will need a water bottle. If you don’t own a reusable one, just take an empty plastic bottle from Abu Dhabi with you.
- Travel sheet for sleeping – this is a relatively important thing on your packing list. I purchased a very similar to this Travel Sheet that is 100% cotton and I must say I was quite happy. You must make sure it’s lightweight and with natural fibers – it can sometimes get quite hot inside the tents.
- Dry shampoo – you really, really need one, especially if you’re a woman. There are many pocket-sized ones that you can easily pack, as this super Dry Shampoo – of a great brand.
- Laundry detergent sheets – or a very small hotel soap (let’s admit it, we all steal these cute soaps!). Sometimes when you have water in the camps, you can ask your local guides for a laver and do a bit of laundry – super useful when you’ve packed pretty tight. However, with these Soap Sheets you can only take 2 with you, which will really not take any place in your luggage!
- Clothers freshener – I was very hesitant to bring one of these with me, but a lady from our group had one – it really did work! It’s definitely worth purchasing one, as this Caldrea Fabric Mist. It does wonders for your clothes and travel sheets as well. Just make sure you pour a little bit of this one into a smaller container, as 150 ml is too large and you must pack light, right? 😁
- Biodegradable wet and dry wipes – as in most islands, they do have a problem with trash here. Let’s face it, some of these wipes do take years to biodegrade, however, it’s still much better to use them than to use regular wipes! Take a look at these Bamboo Flushable Wipes and definitely put them in your cart.
- Sunscreen – this one is also extremely important. I’ve been on other islands even closer to the Equator, but I never got sunburned THIS bad. I was peeling a lot at the end of our trip, so bring a 50 SPF and apply it at least 3-4 times a day.
- After sun lotion – yep, I forgot to bring one of these, hence the super bad peeling of my arms.
- Hat – another absolute must!
- Lightweight warm clothes – if you’re going to Socotra in February and March and coming from Europe or the U.S., you will almost certainly have a jacket with you. Even though the island itself is pretty warm, when you go up in the mountain it does get a bit colder, especially if you want to take photographs during the night. That said, I don’t think it gets below 10 C, but still, you do need something to keep you warm.
- Other clothes – do bring your swimsuit, the turquoise waters in Socotra will entice you for sure! Otherwise bring t-shirts, shorts (but not TOO short), hiking pants, etc.
- Hiking shoes and water shoes – yes, you will need both. There is some hiking you can do which would be almost impossible in flip flops. You can use your hiking shoes when you’re on the way to Socotra and just pack your flip flops. There are some places where you need to get inside the water and even walk for a bit, so water shoes are a really good idea. I had mine with me and was really happy with them! Check out these Water Shoes – very affordable, lightweight and of good quality.
- Travel towel – now, okay, showers are limited in Socotra, but you still do need to get a towel with you. If you don’t have a travel one – it’s worth to invest in one, they’re really lightweight and very convenient – check out this Microfiber Travel Towel that you can order in different sizes.
- Toiletries – small containers of shampoo and shower gel – for when you do have a bath to use in Socotra.
- External batteries -this is also a must. As I’ve mentioned before, charging your devices is pretty hard (only when you’re driving from one point to another), so you do need at least one big reliable external battery. I’ve purchased this Anker Power Bank which is really one of the best you can get on the market. With 20,000 mAh it charges my phone very quick, but also over 4 full times.
- Car charger – another absolute must – the locals often don’t have these, so you will need to bring your own. This Lighter USB Charger is pretty great, I have a very similar one, and you can charge multiple devices at the same time.
- Solar charger – if you really want to up your game, you can even bring a solar charger with you. There will be plenty of sun for sure! I did bring one with me, but I ended up not using it, as I had enough power in my powerbanks. This Solar Charger is a pretty great one you can buy.
- Snacks and coffee – unfortunately, you won’t have any coffee or snacks available, so bring your own. I did bring chocolate and mixed nuts with me, even though it wasn’t the greatest idea with the heat, but I couldn’t resist. So with the heat in mind, pick the right small snacks to bring with you.
What to Bring to the Locals
On some of your stops, you will see lots of friendly little kids that will curiously approach you. Don’t worry, they won’t pickpocket you, some even know a little English and are very polite! Talk to them, they’re very happy to see you. Some of the blogs I’ve read suggest that you bring them chocolate and while that’s a great treat for them indeed, do remember they don’t really have access to proper dental care (only in mainland Yemen) within this hidden paradise in the world. Here’s what you can bring as gifts to the locals instead – they will be very, very happy:
- Children’s toys – they would love a doll or a toy car. But you can also bring many little things, so you can make even more kids happy. We did bring them toys and they were ecstatic!
- English books – Socotra is a tourist island after all, this is its main trade. Thus, it would be really helpful for the locals if you can bring books in English – kids’ one or even for the grown ups. This is one thing that the locals themselves told us they needed.
- Prenatal vitamins – unfortunately, spontaneous abortions are pretty common among the young women of Socotra. I was actually 11 weeks pregnant when I was there and left all my prenatal vitamins to one of our drivers whose wife had lost 3 babies already. Some of our other drivers also told us that they had issues. Thus, they would be really grateful if you could bring them something that might help!
- Tip your drivers – at the end of your trip, don’t forget to pool in some group money and tip your drivers and cooks.
And here’s the most amazing surprise we got:
Once we reached the airport on the way back to Abu Dhabi, we found out they had ICE CREAM! Honestly, it was like elixir from the gods. They also have soft drinks and some chocolate – air conditioning as well. So don’t be fussy that you have to get there pretty early, it’s worth it after the last 7 days you had 🙂