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We invite you to a journey through Arabia.
Our comprehensive guide will assist you traveling in Yemen and through the other Middle East countries.
The ancient traveler, the hoopoe, will show you a region which jumped recently from an old civilization to the modern age.
You will find travel information about the most important sights of Yemen and all Arab countries, useful travel notes, places to stay, suggested tours and more...!

مرحبا بكم في اليمن!
حن نعزكم على رحلة حول اليمن. دليلنا السياحي سيساعدكم أثناء السفر في اليمن. الهدهد - المسافر القديم - يعرض لكم بلاد الذي دخل من قريب من حضارة قديمة إلى العصر الحديث. سوف تحصلون معلومات عن أهم المناطق السياحية، نصائح للسفر، فنادق، رحلات سياحية مقترحة و أشياء كثيرة أخرى ...!

Travel directory Middle East homepage about Yemen about us travel hints places of interest pictures Eco-tourism Yemen tours Soqotra Island
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Socotra Island
"We hope that our national efforts to protect Socotra's  unique wildlife will be supported by local and international assistance. The island's uniqueness should be the gateway for environmental tourism in Yemen.
The long isolation of the islands from the African continent has resulted in very high levels of endemism on the islands. Of the 850 plant species found in the islands, at least 277 are endemic. The higher terrestrial plants have been best studied, yet new species keep being discovered.
The animal world is characterized by the absence, except for introductions by man, of mammals (exception made for bats), amphibians, and perhaps primary freshwater fish. Animal groups stand out by the presence of numerous endemics, including birds. Many species remain to be discovered.
These facts reflect the long geological isolation of the islands. Animal groups that managed to survive on the islands stand out by the presence of numerous endemics, including birds. Many groups remain to be discovered, especially in the marine fauna."
At this point, it should be stated emphatically that Socotra is not open to ordinary visitors or otherwise.
As a pioneer for environmental tourism we promote only high budget sustainable travel to this island. Socotra should preserve its uniqueness. Researchers, scientists and unique discovery travelers are most welcome.
"We hope that our message reaches not only local investors and incoming operators but also international companies and wholesalers."
Yemen Explorers Com.
Meanings Socotra Tour History Geography Population Environment
Flora Fauna Marine life Infrastructure Socotra pictures Environmental tourism
- separation from Africa in the mid Pliocene (approx. six million years ago)
- settlements by South Arabian tribes ca. 1000 B.C.
- 1st century A.D. mentioned first time in a Greek sailor report
- 1507-57 Portuguese occupation
- 1614 Exploration by the Dutch
- 1839 Part of the British Empire
- 30th November 1967 Part of the ex-known "South Yemen"
- 22nd May integrated island of Republic of Yemen
- 1992 in Brazil "Earth Summit Conference":
Socotra island has to be considered as a uniformly homogenous region.  go to top of page
Oriental historians and foreign academics may pronounce the name in four different ways: Asqo'ter, Soqutri,
Sou'qatra and Soqotra.
Ancient Greeks called it Dioscorida.
In the Romans' language it is referred as Dyo-Socor-Yahlas and Dyo-Sotori.
One ancient Greek dialect gave it the names Fia-Soqa'tra and Soqater.
The common belief is that the name derived from the combining of two words Al-Souq (meaning the market in Arabic) and
Qatra (meaning a single drop of any liquid).
This explanation may be the origin of the term Soqotra
because the island was historically known as an unique  market for selling rare liquid products - frankincense, black oblillnum and the "blood of the two brothers", the sap of the Dragon's blood tree used as a medicine.  go to top of page
Situated some 400 km South of the Arabian Peninsula lies the Socotra Archipelago under the administration of the Aden Governorate of the Republic of Yemen. Hadibu, the largest town on Socotra, is home to several thousand people.
The Archipelago consists of Socotra and three outlying islands, Abd al-Kuri, Samha and Darsa. Bounded to the north and south by the deep waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, the seas immediately around these islands are very shallow, with depths of as little as 40m recorded 50km south of Socotra, and 20km to the north.
Socotra is by far the largest of the four islands with ca. 500 km coastal line. Located at the eastern end of the group it is more than 130km long from east to west, and 40km from north to south, with a spine of spectacular 1,500m mountains along its length. The mountains are connected to relief, which has the name Qolhal. The local people call it A’rjeeb. The highest peak is the mountain Mumi in the eastern part of the island, where the Dragon's blood tree grows.
There are many springs.
e.g. spring Don Juan and the natural mineral springs Haj'har, which have the whole year water.  go to top of page
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Socotra is home to an estimated 40,000 people, with their own distinct language and culture.
A - The inhabitants of the mountains are living in caves.
They are nomads and descendants of an old South Arabian tribe speaking still the old Arabian dialect Soqotri related to the Mahri dialect.
B - The coastal people are fishermen, mostly African origin. They live in primitive houses with roofs from palm leaves and tree stems. The windows are small low openings functioning as air condition. In the cold winters the windows will be closed.
The main cash income for the fishermen of the three inhabited islands (Darsa is uninhabited) is almost exclusively from the export of dried shark and shark fins to the mainland, where the meat is eaten locally and the fins re-exported for the lucrative far eastern trade.
C - The nomads of the wadis are Arab origin.
They live in small stone houses and their source of living is based on date palm farming.
During the date harvest they practice traditional customs and celebrations accompanied by spiritual dances.
The dates are the only food during  the monsoon season from May until October. 
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In many inland areas the felling of even a single living tree cannot be done without the agreement of a council of village leaders. Traditional management methods such as these have arguably only survived because the islands have been remarkably cut off from the outside world, and from the mixed blessings of development which closer contacts invariably bring.
The pristine condition of the natural environment of the islands is largely due to the respect that Socotrean traditions have for natural resources - for instance, camels are deliberately excluded from large areas of the island because they can upset the delicate balance in the plant communities there.
A possible explanation for the large numbers of fish close to shore here is that there is almost no fishery for inshore fish at any of these islands. Local villagers catch what they need for their personal consumption, and no more.
The first signs of potential problems are, however, beginning to appear, and finding ways to help the people of the islands to improve the quality of their lives through increased education, health care and development, without threatening the future of biological diversity here is now a priority.
Local villagers catch what they need for their personal consumption, and no more. But this situation is likely to change quickly, in particular for relatively high value species of shallow water animals, such as the rock lobster. In a classic demonstration of unsustainable fisheries, the lobster population of nearby the mainland of Yemen has been decimated in the past three or four years. Now the lobster boats are looking for other sources, with Socotra the obvious target. 
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The flora of the island has a big diversity (850 plants). Some of the plants are used as herbal medicine. The most important one's are different kinds of Euphorbia - 
Al-Djeeraz. The visitor will notice the Al-Amtah tree, which exists only at this island in big quantities, because this tree has a strange appearance - similar to the Baobab tree - Al-Fateen
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- Birds

The unique bird world is already an attraction. It is not difficult to watch the birds in the various landscapes. There are ca. 105 kind of birds - 30 species are coming during the breeding time to Soqotra.
6 species only exists at this island - unfortunately three kinds are endangered by extinction:
Al-Zarzur Al-Soqotri,
Al-Hazijah Al-Soqotriyah,
Al-Dirasah Al-Soqotriyah
The island has the most native birds in the Middle East. Furthermore there are certain species, which exists in a great number in comparison to other regions of the world.
e.g. Egyptian Rakhmah 
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- Animals

The cows at the island derive from the famous "Christian cows", which had been brought to Soqotra by the Portuguese during their occupation since 1507.
Furthermore, the Soqotri goat derives from imported species from Western Europe and Russia. The goat has a small corpus with a long tail and moves free in big herds in the wide and fertile lowlands. There are no dogs at the islands.
The only beast is the Soqotri cat. She is bigger than a normal cat. The famous odour Misk is produced from a secrete of the cat. 
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- Reptiles

The reptilian fauna is also very rich with 19 out of a total of 22 species regarded as endemics.
There is evidence of turtle nesting sites on the islands, which may be of global importance, and certainly have regional significance. 
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Marine life
The marine biology of the entire area is almost completely unknown. There is an amazing variety of habitats ranging from coral reefs to kelp forests, and sea grasses to storm scoured rocks, which are all populated by a fish community different from that ever recorded anywhere else. 
The north coasts of all four of the islands are characterized by spectacular and extensive areas of hard and soft corals and particularly of expanses of huge plates of branching Acropora corals.
Several sites have incredibly diverse communities of beautiful soft corals, and there were huge numbers of fish, large and small. The worst culprits are surgeon fishes, in particular the eye stripe surgeon, Acanthurus dussumieri. Almost everywhere there are groupers, mostly the tomato grouper, Dermatolepis striolaatus.
At the limestone cliffs on the south side of any of the islands there are surreal landscapes of caverns, chasms, cliffs and sculpted rocks, all covered with an amazing array of algae, worms, sea squirts and corals. Through this landscape drifted, swam and darted fish of all shapes and sizes. Sharks are rare guests. 
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The south-west monsoon, which kicks up high seas in the area from April to October, has created a physical barrier to access since earliest times. Even during the calmer periods landing there may still be difficult due to a combination of logistical problems, including the absence of adequate harbour facilities.
The island had been during the British rule, used either as temporary depot for refuge of the British crews and seamen, or as the light-house location for guidance of the marine route for their ships. It was also known to be one military garrison for the British troops. 
Recently, in May 1999 the first International Airport Hadibu was inaugurated. Furthermore, the construction of a modern port started in the beginning of the year 1999. There a small number of vehicles available.
Except of a small hotels in Hadibu, visitors can only sleep at public guest houses and schools. 
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