Dare Dream Discover



A dragon blood tree at night on Socotra

  1. The island archipelago of Socotra lies off the Southeast coast of Yemen, to which it belongs and close to the horn of Africa. It is known as ‘the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’. It has 825 plant species and over a third of these are found nowhere else in the world. These include the Frankincense tree.

Me with a frankinsense tree in Socotra

Also what is called locally the Bottle tree for its ability to store water.

A bottle tree in Socotra

It is also known as a desert rose due to the beautiful pink blooms when it flowers.

A desert rose in Socotra

The most famous of all though are the Dragon Blood trees, the iconic symbol of Socotra

  • A forest of Dragon Blood trees in Socotra

These wonderful trees are only found on Socrota. Seeds have been taken to try to grow them elsewhere but all attempts failed. Some of the large trees are between 700 – 900 years old.  The reason for their name is the deep shade of red of the resin which seeps from the tree when it is cut. This is used for traditional medicine, to make cosmetics and skin care products and as paint.

  1. Me with a Dragon Blood tree in Socotra

90% of its reptile species are also unique to the islands. 200 bird specks live or visit here and it has the highest concentration of Egyptian vultures in the world.

  1. An Egyptian vulture in Socotra

The seas surrounding it are home to 250 types of coral, 750 different types of fish and 300 species of crustacean. In total 700 species are endemic to Socotra. This is also why the island was granted World Heritage status in 2008.

A crab in Socotra

I can only describe Socotra as magical. The scenery was simply spectacular and everywhere I went I received a wonderful, warm welcome. Everyday was an adventure, so different, so diverse. It’s hard to know where to start. I think the easiest way is to take it day by day.

Getting There

To visit Socotra you need to go with a guide or tour. I don’t like big groups and would rather use local companies. A friend who has visited Socotra twice recommended Rafat. He is the longest serving guide on the island and as well as guiding for major tour companies, 2 years ago set up his own tour company.

This is Rafat’s instagram:


and website


Our guide with his daughter in Socotra

Our guide jumping down a sand dune in Socotra

I advertised for a travel companion to reduce the cost. Cynthia agreed to join me. The cost was much less than if I had gone with a tour group and both Rafat and our driver Fadhel took such wonderful care of us.

Me with our driver and guide in Socotra

There is only one flight a week from Abu Dhabi on a Tuesday. It is a charter flight so not bookable direct and doesn’t show up on search engines like Skyscanner. Rafat gave the contact details of the agent and he booked it for me. Rafat also sorted out my visa. The flight is a little over 2 hours and was a lovely flight. The airport is small and chaotic but Rafat met us off the plane and sorted everything out for us.

Socotra airport

Socotra day 1

It was lunchtime so we stopped off at a local restaurant for our first fresh fish of the trip.

Our first meal in Socotra, fresh fish

We’d be camping on a beach on the other side of the island. It was a beautiful setting, fringed by huge sand dunes at one side and the Arabian sea at the other.

Beach we camped on in Socotra

Beautiful beach in Socotra

Seabirds on the beach in Socotra

This was Arher beach, our home for the next 2 nights.

A beautiful seashell on a beach in Socotra

A heron on the beach in Socotra

Shells Socotra

Our tents were put up for us. I offered to help but was told to relax, so there was nothing for it but a rum and coke aperitif before dinner.

An aperitif before dinner on the beach Socotra

With a little company.

A culture on the beach in Socotra

A beach in Socotra

Fadhel cooked a wonderful dinner and then a bonfire was built on the beach.

A bonfire on the beach in Bhutan

I went to sleep to the sound of the sea. I woke in the early hours of the morning to rain pounding on my tent. Fortunately, we had rain covers and once I checked it wasn’t leaking I was soon asleep again. Others weren’t so lucky and had to move their tents at 2am.

Socotra day 2

A heron at sunrise on the beach at Socotra

What a way to wake up! A beautiful dawn with colours that were constantly changing.

  1. Sunrise in Socotra
  • The sun rising in Socotra

After breakfast on the beach it was time for the first adventure. Our very early starts meant we arrived everywhere first so we could have these wonderful sites to ourselves. We were hiking to Hoq cave, a one and a half hour hike uphill. It was an exhilarating hike and I loved it, although I was a little sweaty when I reached the top.

The view from Hoq cave in Socotra

En-route we saw our first bottle trees, even baby bottle trees.

  1. A baby bottle tree in Socotra

and a little local wildlife.

A centipede in Socotra

The views from the top were spectacular, where the mountains meet the sea.

Me looking at the view from Hoq cave Socotra

It’s a natural cave full stalactites and stalagmites of all sizes and with some very unusual formations. It is enormous! A torch was definitely needed, this is a natural cave, no mood lighting here.

Me inside Hoq cave Socotra

Stalactites and stalagmites in Hoq cave in Socotra

  1. Fabulous stalagmites in Hoq cave, Socotra

Stalactites in Hoq cave Socotra

The cave is 3km long and this is the end point.

  1. Inside Hoq cave Socotra

A strange stalagmites in Socotra

Of course there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

A cave in Socotra

Me at the entrance to How cave in Socotra

Me outside Hoq cave Socotra

After the hike down it was back to the beach for lunch.

Beach in Socotra

A heron in flight Socotra

Archer beach in Socotra

Just in time as the heavens opened but we were safely under our shelter, it would have been a very slippery descent. The sun returned for lunch.

  1. Lunch on the beach in Socotra

Of course as usual we always had a friend try to join us for lunch.

A vulture in Socotra

After lunch it was time for a swim and a shower after the sweaty hike. Here they have a natural shower and it’s wonderful, you get a massage from the water at the same time.

  • A natural shower on the beach

Me under the natural beach shower in Socotra

On the way back some local boys had come for a kick around on the beach. They kicked the ball to me and I had a little game with them. I think they were surprised I could play. I had to say goodbye as our activities for the day hadn’t finished.

A friendly local in Socotra

The next stop was at the tip of the island where the Arabian Sea meets the Indian Ocean.

  1. Sunset in Socotra

Rafat prised fresh mussels from the rock and I popped them straight into my mouth.

  1. Me eating fresh mussels in Socotra

We met a local fisherman. Here it is very easy, he just had a line with bait which he threw out, A couple of minutes later he pulled it in with a fish on the end. Our cook even had a go.

  • Catching dinner in Socotra

He had had a good catch.

Freshly caught fish Socotra

He hitched a lift with us part of the way.

A local fisherman hitching a lift in Socotra

The next stop was to visit more local fishermen with their brightly coloured boats.

  • Fishing boats Socotra

Me with local fishing boats in Socotra

They had also had a good catch and we bought lots of fish, some of the 750 species here.

A local fisherman in Socotra

Bringing home our dinner in Socotra

Me with local fishermen in Socotra

We said goodbye but there was still time to stop off at a small village on the way back to buy yet more fish which travelled back on the roof of the car.

Local fish filleting Socotra

The lovely thing here is that everyone helps each other. Rafat shared the fish with the other guides. Fadhel, our cook made us a beach feast for dinner.

Cooking on the beach in Socotra

A feast on the beach in Socotra

All this in one day, I was sure I would sleep well.

Socotra Day 3

A heron in flight Archer beach Socotra

After another lovely breakfast on the beach

  1. Morning on Arher beach Socotra.

it was time to walk it off with another uphill hike.

First was a stop off at a small but interesting museum.

An old image of Socotra

Local museum in Socotra

It was a one and a half hour hike to Homehim protected area. It was here that I saw my first Dragon Blood tree.

Landscape of Socotra

Me dwarfed by a dragon blood tree in Socotra

An amazing Dragon Blood tree

A dragon blood tree growing out of my head in Socotra

There were also very beautiful Frankinsence trees and more bottle trees.

  1. Me next to a Frankincense tree

Me sitting next to a Dragon Blood tree

Dragon Blood trees and bottle trees Socotra

Here is a natural infinity pool with lovely views down to the ocean. The rain had dislodged a lot of the silt making it a bit murky but that didn’t stop our intrepid guide. There were fabulous views from the top.

View from the natural infinity pool in Socottra

Homehil protected area Socotra

We had a lovely lunch spot.

A friendly goat Socotra

A wading bird in Socotra

Then it was time to move on to a new beach campsite. The afternoon was spent snorkelling. Lots of huge multi-coloured fish, shoals of tiny, fluorescent blue fish, needle fish, bright blue starfish and lovely corals. Unfortunately, I had a technical hitch so no photos of this. Then it was trying to conquer my fear of heights and climb a huge rock.

On top of the world Socotra

Me on top of a large rock in Socotra.

Atop a huge rock in Socotra

A rock climbing goat in Socotra

Interesting rock formation Socotra

Another fun packed day.

Socotra day 4

Me at Kalishan canyon Socotra

So another day and another hike. This time downhill into a canyon. This is Kalishan and here is a wonderful natural swimming pool. It was incredibly beautiful, crystal clear waters in shades of green and turquoise. It was very refreshing after the hike, bliss.

  1. Kalishan canyon in Socotra

Crystal clear waters at Kalishan canyon Socotra

Me swimming in Kalishan canyon

At first we were the only ones but then some of the local children came to show off their diving and acrobatic skills.

Acrobatics at Kalishan canyon Socotra

Local kids at Kalishan canyon Socotra

Diving kids in Socotra

En route we had a photo stop with a friendly chameleon.

Me with a friendly chameleons in SocotraIt was a spectacular drive today and as always some fabulous photo opportunities along the way.

Inquisitive goat Socotra

A native skink in Socotra

Dramatic scenery in Socotra

A local camel rider in Socotra

I’d trekked canyons and caves and climbed huge rocks but went flying on a straight piece of ground when I got over excited about seeing a camel. Still there is always a local remedy.

A medicinal plant in Socotra

Then it was climbing the huge sand dunes at Zehj.

Me at Zehj sand dune Socotra

To get an image of the size, look how it dwarfs our vehicle.

Our car dwarfed by Zehj sand duneWe would be camping on another beach. This one came with its own camels.

A camel strolling along the beach in Socotra

If there is an opportunity to dance of course I am always going to take it. Everyone is always singing here and our car was filled with music and singing. Fortunately, not mine, I’m tone deaf but it doesn’t always stop me I can dance though. Tonight the other guides all joined us. Musical instruments were improvised from a manner of things and the music and dancing began.


Jamming with the locals in Socotra

Socotra day 5

I woke up to another splendid sunrise glimmering over the ocean.

A beautiful sunrise in Socotra

Sunrise glimmers on the sea in Socotra

We had camped on Omak beach and it was another stunning start to the day.

Dawn breaks in Socotra

Sunrise over Omak beach in Socotra

We had a visit to another cave full of wonderful rock formations.

Digob cave in Sosotra

An interesting rock formation in Digob cave Socotra

We always had fun wherever we went and a stop at a petrol station was no exception.

Fun at the petrol station in Socotra

It was then time to drive to the Dragon Blood forest.

The scenery en route was as always spectacular with dirt roads and huge drops. This was the magnificent Derher canyon .

Me at Derher canyon Socotra

Derher canyon Socotra

Me looking down into Derher canyon

Our guide with a young local boy Socotra

Our lunch stop as always was very scenic, with the chance for a little cooling dip in the stream. As always we had a few lunch guests.

A lovely lunch stop in Socotra.

A lunch companion Socotra

We visited a Dragon Blood nursery. 2 devasting cyclones hit the island in 2015 and very sadly destroyed 30% of the Dragon Blood trees on the island. The problem is they take so long to grow. The tiny ones here are 15-20 years old.

Me at the Dragon blood tree nursery in Socotra

The largest trees are between 700-900 years old.

Me with a large Dragon Blood tree in Socotra

Also there are 4 times as many goats as people on Socrota and they eat everything including the saplings of these trees.

A damaged Dragon Blood tree in Socotra

The resin of the Dragon Blood tree in Socotra

A forest of Dragon Blood trees in Socotra

The beautiful fauna of Socotra

Tonight we camped next to the vast Dragon Blood forest. This was Frmhin forest.

The Dragon Blooon forest Socotra

Our campsite by the Dragon Blood forest

It looked stunning at sunset and was so atmospheric by night.

Frmhin Dragon Blooon forest Socotra

Frmhin Dragon Blood tree forest Socotra at night

Reflections in the Dragon Blood forest Socotra

A bonfire next to the Dragon Blood tree forest Socotra

Dinner was in the open under the light from millions of stars, galaxies and planets.It was mesmerising. I didn’t need the shooting star I saw, all my dreams had already come true.

The Dragon Blood forest at Frmhin, Socotra

Socotra day 6

Sunrise in Frmhin Dragon Blood tree forest Socotra

Sunrise over the Dragon Blood forest was magical. A little eerie as the morning mist swirled and the black silhouettes of the huge trees dotted the skyline.

Silhouettes of Dragon Blood trees in Socotra

Then the sky began to colour.

Sunrise in Frmhin forest in Socotra

The sun coming up over Frmhin forest Socotra

  1. Sunrise over Frmhin Dragon Blood tree forest in Socotra

This was one of my favourite experiences of the trip. I sat in silence for one and a half hours, the forest quiet and still and watched at the myriad of changes of colour until the sun like a huge yellow ball of fire rose over the forest.

  • Frmhin forest Socotra at sunrise

The sun shining through a Dragon Blood tree in Socotra

As we drove back it was time to say goodbye to the forest and the Dragon Blood trees with one final stop.

Me with a forest of Dragon Blood trees in Socotra

This is the famous resin from the trees.

Resin from the Dragon Blood tree in Socotra

Dragon Blood tree resin Socotra

It was time to head back to the beach. In the 1980s Socotra was part of South Yemen, which was pro-Russian and the only communist state on the Arab peninsula. To protect the island from invasion, the U.S.S.R. gave them a few dozen old T-34 tanks which were installed amongst the sand dune on the North coast. Left over from World War ll, they were already rusted and few worked. Fortunately, they were never needed, they wouldn’t have been much help.

  • Me sitting on a tank in Socotra

We were staying on another beach, Kalansya, close to the stunning Dethwh lagoon.

  • Me at Kalansya in Socotra

Kalansya beach in Socotra

Me looking down on Dethwh lagoon in Socotra

It was here that we net one of the islands most famous residents, the Caveman. His real name is Abdullah but everyone on the island knows him by his nickname Ellai. He was born is this cave which overlooks the lagoon and lived here for many years. These days he also has a small house in town but still comes here everyday to fish with his son and often still sleeps here.

The caveman of Socotra

I could see why, it was such a beautiful spot with lovely views over the lagoon.

  1. View from the Caveman's cave at Dethwh lagoon Socotra

When the tide goes up the water is just past your knees and you can wade out and see the rich variety of sea life. The entrance to his cave is flanked by 2 huge whale bones from a carcass washed up on the beach,with stairs made from stone and handrails of bone. At the top of these steps was the caveman waiting to greet us.

The caveman welcoming us in Socotra

The caveman is quite a character and very enigmatic. He is 59 years of age, he was the father of 15 children but sadly 9 died.

A smiling caveman in Socotra

The cave had matting on the floor, a kettle was boiled on a fire for tea. Shells were used as plates and cups.

The caveman uses a seashell as a cup to drink his tea

Inside is a dolphin skeleton which also washed up on the beach. He calls it his friend.

A dolphin skeleton Socotra

He prepared us a wonderful seafood lunch,  fresh mussels, squid, fish and probably the best crab I have eaten.

Our lunch cooked by the caveman

What a wonderful lunch view too.

Lunch with a view of Dethwh lagoon in Socotra

Me at Dethwh lagoon, Socotra

A bottle tree on the beach in Socotra

After lunch the tide was low enough for us  to explore the lagoon. From the rocks and sea bed came fresh oysters, clams, mussels and sea urchins popped straight into my mouth, so fresh and so delicious. Another seafood feast.

Me eating an oyster in Socotra

  • The caveman opening a scallop in Socotra

A fresh scallop Socotra

The caveman giving me a scallop in Socotra

We saw sea potatoes, which squirt red dye.

A sea potato Socatra

The caveman showed us the boat he uses for fishing.

The caveman on his boat in Socotra

He showed us a blowfish. There are so many of these and you have to be very careful walking on the beach, so as not to stand on one.

The caveman with a puffer fish in Socotra

The caveman then disappeared under the water and reappeared holding a turtle. I was a little worried at first, especially when he took out his knife. However this isn’t cruel or for food. He proceeded to remove the barnacles attached to the  outside of its shell which cause the turtle problems, he then releases it.

The caveman removing barnacles from a turtle in Socotra

The caveman with sea urchins and a lobster in Socotra

A turtle in Socotra

According to the caveman, I am a very strong woman and should stay in his cave for a week and fish with him. It was tempting!

Me with the caveman in Socotra This was another huge highlight of my trip.

The day wasn’t finished thought and there was still time to experience sunrise over the sand dunes from a viewpoint atop a rock. The views as always were spectacular as we waited for the sun to set.

Me on top of a mountain in Socotra

A calm sea in Socotra

Sunset did not disappoint.

Sunset over the sand dunes in Socotra

The sun setting in Socotra

Me watching sunset in Socotra

Sunset in Kalansya, Socotra

The sun setting in Socotra

Tonight would be our last night camping.

Me with our guide and driver in Socotra

Socotra Day 6

A dolphin leaping out of the water in Socotra

So another early start but that is fine when you are going to bed early too. It’s lovely to wake up to sunrise.  Today we were hiring a small fishing boat to look for dolphins. It wasn’t long before we found some.


A boatman in Socatra

  1. Dolphins in Socotra

A dolphin in Socotra

There were also lots of sea birds.

A sea bird in Socotra

Then  it was on to a lovely sand beach for a swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. It was such a beautiful spot and we had the whole beach to ourselves.

An unspoilt beach in Socotra

The water was like getting in to a warm bath and the waters so clear, shoals of small fish darted around next to us. We made the first footprints in the sand.

Footprints in the sand Socotra

Me in the sea in SocotraThis is Shaob beach.

Shaob beach in Socotra

  • Seabirds on the beach in Socotra

A couple more boats arrived as we were preparing to leave. Another reason for the early start is that the wind picks up later. It was a much bumpier ride back and much more exhilarating with the peaks and troughs of the now much larger waves. I loved it, then we returned to the stillness of the harbour.

A fishing town in Socotra

Children playing in Socotra

It was now time to say goodbye to the beach.Tonight we would be staying in a hotel in the capital. There were still a couple of stops entering route. Firstly at the salt flats.

  1. Salt stores in Socotra

Then we met some very friendly local children.

Me with local children in Socotra


Me mobbed by local children in Socotra

The hotel was functional but basic and I missed the beach. It was interesting to walk around the capital. Men played dominoes on the street.

Local men playing dominoes in Socotra

Goats picked through the piles of rubbish.This is a big problem on the island, like many places. I watched my guide and other guides picking up rubbish on the beaches and they are also leading initiatives to clean up the island. In the city plastic was piled everywhere.

Rubbish in Socotra

A goat sitting on a car in Socotra

It was an interesting walk.

A spice store in Socotra

A wedding car in Socotra

An event at a school in Socotra

Tonight we dined a in style with the biggest fresh lobsters I have ever seen.

An enormous lobster in Socotra

Our lobster dinner in Socotra

Socotra day 7

There was one last treat in store before our flight took us off the island. We’d been invited by the guide to his house for breakfast. It was such a privilege to meet his family and see his house. His wife had cooked us a delicious breakfast.

Our guide Rafat with his daughter in Socotra

Here women are always covered when they are out, so it was lovely to see her relaxed in her home.

Local women in Socotra

A local women in Socotra

His daughter was incredibly beautiful with an infectious smile and the interaction and care Rafat took with his daughter was lovely to witness.

Rafat's daughter in Socotra

Rafat with his daughter in Socotra

Me with our guide Rafat's daughter

He is a very kind man and has become a friend. I can’t thank him enough for sharing so many wonderful experiences with me during this week. It has been a magical trip I will never forget. We said our goodbyes to Rafat and Fadhel and also to Socotra.

The airport at Socotra

Our plane Socatra

A view of Socotra from the plane

View of Socotra from the plane

Maybe we’ll meet up somewhere in the world but in the meantime if you would like to buy me a beer to say thanks, it would be much appreciated and I’m always thirsty. Click on the link below. Cheers.








































































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