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Pictures of our Socotra Island trip in Yemen (North+East) - without our vehicle in February 2011
(Part 1: Hadibo - Dihamri - Arher Beach)
Yemen car trip (from Oman to Saudi Arabia)  - with our car from May 16th to June 15th, 1996
Following without our vehicle in February 2011:
Part 2: Socotra Island trip in Yemen (South) Homhil - Aomak Beach - Wadi Daerhu - Dicksam Plateau
Part 3: Socotra Island trip in Yemen (West) Qalansiya - Shouab Beach - Qadama Beach - Momi Plateau - Wadi Ayhaft
Part 4: United Arab Emirates Sharjah - Dubai
Yemen Map
      Middle East Map
latest picture: Maarch 11, 2011
  • click a picture to see details

001  Map of Socotra, situated in the
Indian Ocean, 210 miles from Yemen
and 150 miles from Somalia
002  At the airport of Mukhalla on the
Yemeni mainland, Liliana is ready to board
the flight of Felix Airways to Socotra
003  The main road of Hadibo, the
“capital” of Socotra, is caught
by the morning light
1st Day: February 9th, 2011:
We gaze out of the airplane window of Felix Airways. Below there is nothing than the brown-reddish sand of the endless Arabian desert as far as our eyes can reach - the ocean of sand of the Rub al Khali, the “Empty Quarter”. The seats opposite us are taken by Arab women wearing a long black “Abaya” (robe) and a Niqab (veil) that is covering their face, leaving only their expressive eyes free. Sitting separately from their women – even in the plane – are their husbands, chatting animatedly.
004  The minaret of the city
mosque towers over Hadibo
005  A dramatic mountain range
is looming behind Hadibo’s souk
006  A typical Yemeni road scene:
Goats searching in the scattered garbage
These people occupy half of the plane and are on the way back to their island: Socotra, situated in the Indian Ocean, 1’400 sq.mi. big (only 15% bigger than Rhode Island), 240 miles from Yemen in Asia and 150 miles from Somalia with about 60’000 people (b.t.w.: in October 2010, Somalia claimed for the 1st time Socotra as its own). Separated for 6 millions of years from the African continent, it has developed a unique flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. We are full of anticipation to be able to explore it during the next ten days because we always had a special fascination for this part of the world.
007  In Hadibo’s souk, shops attract
customers with attractive facades …..
008  ….. they are packed
with all kind of goods, from
textiles to household items
009  ..... Is it a cosmetic shop where
Emil stands? Not everyone can read.
Therefore it is a good idea to paint
some of the goods on the doors
It is 3.45pm. At the small airport of the main town of Hadibo the turquoise Arabian Sea is luring on one side and on the other side the reddish desert sand. Arriving directly from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, it is our official entry into Yemen. Much to our joy, the immigration officer uses a special “Socotra” entry stamp. We fetch our luggage and are greeted by Abdullah, our guide of “Meetaq Moqbel Abdullah Tour Organization”, which we booked via internet. In a “LandCruiser FJ80” Ahmed, our driver, is waiting for us. These two guys will escort us during our 10 days tour. There is no other solution – there are no rental cars.
010  The four children bought a little
something in the shop and are
on their way home
011  In Yemen people are eating together
by hand from one single metal plate, mainly
pita bread (flat bread) and rice with a sauce
012  Tea time in front of the Taj
Socotra Hotel in Hadibo. The heavily
sugared tea is an energy source
The evening light is lovely when we drive along the Eastern coast to Deleisha. A long sandy beach – except of two fishermen totally deserted – a peaceful lagoon and a white sand dune are greeting us, and the sun is just disappearing behind the rolling hills. From here it is merely a stone’s throw along a stony track to Soq, our first seaside tent camp. It is already dark when we arrive and are lead to our shed. It is right beside a round table, taken over by a noisy tour group. Separated only by a wall of palm leaves is the busy kitchen.
013  A covered up women
leads her goat through a
dusty road in Hadibo
014  Two completely covered
up women in the souk of Hadibo
015  Discussion of our itinerary:
Opposite Emil sits Meetaq, the local
tour organizer, besides him Ahmed, our
driver and aside Abdullah, our guide
No, we definitely do not like it here! We explain Abdullah that we are not “group” people, that we are not night persons and that a good sleep is very important to us. He agrees to take us to a hotel in Hadibo for the night. The room at the “Taj Socotra Hotel” is OK and at 8pm we are already in bed, the last two days having been quite tiring: Twice in a row we got up at 2am and within 24 hours we flew three different airlines.
016  “Our” LandCruiser stops at
the road side outside Hadibo
while we take pictures
017  We are driving along the
North coast Eastwards
018  An idyllic moment at Deleisha:
The sun sets behind the hill
2nd Day: February 10th, 2011:
It is 5am and it already dawns – the muezzin fell silent again. Hadibo awakens slowly: Close to our hotel a covered-up woman is chasing her black goat through a dusty alley, a merchant is opening the iron door of his shop, two hotel employees are sitting on the bare stone floor drinking tea and four little boys leave the nearby shop. A strong desert wind is blowing, swirling plastic bags in all colors around.
019  A small fisher settlement
along the North coast
020  A mosque, a couple of stone houses,
a little garden – a peaceful hamlet between
Hadibo and the Northeastern tip
021  A lucky strike with the zoom:
To take pictures of women is
strictly prohibited on Socotra
Two hours later, an intense sun is burning and the roaming goats squeeze to the shade of house walls or below parked dusty LandCruiser – Yemen pure as we remember it from 1996 when, coming from Oman, we toured this country with our own car. At 7.30am our crew shows up and takes us for breakfast. It is served in a local restaurant. Much to our surprise and to Emil’s joy we also get triangle cheeses – three each – besides the still warm pita (flat bread), honey, marmalade and Nescafe.
022  The two red rocks are the
landmark of Dihamri, a marine
protected area ideal for snorkeling …..
023  ..... a kind of mussel
sticks to the red rocks
(name ???)
024  Two black veiled women with
white baseball caps walk through
the red stone desert
With new energy and full of expectations we hit the road. On the good paved coastal road, wedged between the Arabian Sea and a bizarre mountain range, we first head to the East to Cape Dihamri, a marine protected area. This famous snorkeling spot announces itself already from far with two red rocks towering out to the sea.
025  Liliana enjoys the view and
the cooling breeze in Dihamri
026  The tourist camp at Cape Dihamri
with its modest palm sheds open towards
the sea. Equipped with mats, mattresses
and cushions, they are the place to drink tea
and eat. For the night tents are pitched up
027  The goat regards the facial
tissues as a delicacy. It tears one
after the other out of the box
and chews it contently
It is still quiet. Only one tour group, which stayed overnight, is present. There are two simple sheds made from palm leaves, open towards the sea, equipped with mats, thin mattresses and comfortable cushions. This is the place to relax, to drink the heavily sugared tea, to eat, to chat or to simply take a nap.
028  Bleak desert mountains and a blue ocean
accompany us on the Northeasterly coast …..
029  ..... while oases are a
refreshing contrast in the desert .....
030  ..... and a river promises
relief from the desert sun
Soon after our arrival, lunch is served – prepared by the camping staff. It consists of rice with a viscous sauce made from potatoes, peas and tomato ketchup besides a piece of fish and a plastic bottle of drinking water. Together with our guide and driver we sit cross-legged on the mat on the ground (for Emil it is a torture) and eat with spoon and fork (there is never a knife), while the two eat together traditionally by hand from a big metal plate.
031  The wind has blown sand against
the dark steep cliffs, which towers now
in dunes of several hundred yards height
at Arher in the Northeast .....
032  ….. the sun rises at Arher …..
033  ..... and bathes the sand
dunes in a special light
Boxes of facial tissues are lying around plentiful and are used bountiful. Much to our amusement we watch how one of the freely roaming goats is looking for the right moment to reach a box. Placidly it tears one sheet after the other out of the package and chews it contently. Once in a while the locals chase it away. But it does not last long until it comes resolutely and determined around the corner again.
034  Our little tent and “our” car at the
foot of the pyramid-shaped sand dune,
where we spent the night …..
035  ..... breakfast with Ahmed and
Abdullah consisting of pita (flat bread),
triangle cheese, honey, marmalade
and Nescafe
036  Mountain peaks and sand
dunes – a lovely combination
After a little nap, we are ready to take off. Just at that moment 10 (!) LandCruiser with tour groups come hurrying along in a cloud of dust. They are mainly from Italy, Japan and China – the first nationalities “discovering” Socotra. We are more than happy to be able to escape the crowds. We continue along the coast and shortly after we arrive at Arher in the Northeast. There, the wind has blown the sand against the dark steep cliffs, forming massive dunes of several hundred yards high – a stunning sight.
037  The tiny black dots on
the dune are youngsters
climbing it to slide down
038  A young Yemeni is
waiting for a lift
039  An exemption: Girls – like
women – don’t want to be pictured,
but this nomad girl has no objection
One of them is pyramid shaped. It is there, at its foot, where we pitch our Igloo tent. At an adequate distance, a small group of Czech settles down. Our crew not having to cook dinner for us (we never eat dinner!) disappears and spends the evening with the neighbor’s team. After dark, we have a little cat wash at the sweet water well between the dunes and at 8pm we are already asleep. The silence of the desert is wonderful.
040  Irsal, a remote fishing harbor at the
Northeastern corner of the island, sandwiched
between desert mountains and the ocean
041  A colony of seagulls gathers
at a sandbank along the coast …..
042  ..... and a pair of omnipresent
vultures is looking for food
3rd Day: February 11th, 2011:
Long before sunrise we crawl out of our tent. There is no sign of another soul. We are the only ones to enjoy the colorful spectacle of the rising sun. When the first rays of the sun perform their game of shadow on the sand dunes, the mood is just wonderful. Slowly, also our late risers wake up and prepare our breakfast: Pita (flat bread), triangle cheese, honey, marmalade and Nescafe – they stick to it to the 10th day. We do not mind – we like it!
043  A mountain hamlet matching
the colors of the desert
044  The little garden is fenced in to
protect the vegetables from roaming goats
045  Girls are looking from a rock down to
the road where “our” LandCruiser is parked
One hour later we are already in Irsal, a small fishing harbor at the Northeasterly tip of the island. Immediately we are surrounded by begging children. What a shame that even this young tourist destination has not been spared. One boat is surrounded be gesticulating fishermen, another is just arriving with its catch. In a row of flat sheds of stones and palm leaves nets, buoys, containers and all the other stuff a fisherman needs are stored. It is almost a biblical scene. Shortly after Irsal the road ends and we backtrack the same way until Cape Dihamri where we turn off towards the mountains – to Homhil.
046  Two fishermen are eager
to have their picture taken. Men
like often to be pictured
047  On the way to anywhere –
of course with a Toyota pickup!
048  Young bottle trees (Adenium
obesium), also called Desert Roses,
cling on a rock wall. They are
accompanying us on the next two pages
For the continuation of the 3rd day, February 11th, 2011, in Homhil - please click   here
More websites from Yemen, where we visited in February 2011 the Island of Socotra: (without our vehicle)
  • Yemen car trip (from Oman to Saudi Arabia)  - with our car from May 16th to June 15th, 1996
  • Part 2: Socotra Island trip in Yemen (South) Homhil - Aomak Beach - Wadi Daerhu - Dicksam Plateau
  • Part 3: Socotra Island trip in Yemen (West) Qalansiya - Shouab Beach - Qadama Beach - Momi Plateau - Wadi Ayhaft
  • Part 4: United Arab Emirates Sharjah - Dubai