Read a recent report about diving in Socotra, Yemen

05/04/2012 10:15

My dive buddy & I just returned from a week in Socotra with a day in Sanaa at either end of our stay. All our local arrangements were made by Abduljameel of Socotra Eco Tours (Socotra Eco-tours - Tourist guide on Socotra specialised in eco-tourism e-mail:- holidays@socotra-eco-tours.com tel:- +967 770689762).

We flew Egyptair from London to Sanaa changing planes in Cairo. At check in in Cairo you will need to show a copy of your Yemeni visa. Our visas were obtained by Abduljameel – we emailed him a copy of our passports & wired the fees to him & once he received the visas he emailed copies to us. On arrival at Sanaa airport we gave the copies to the visas desk & they posted the original visas in our passports. Abduljameel had arranged for us to be met at the airport by Akmed as our guide/driver & one of the officials phoned him as he waited outside to confirm that we were with his agency – arriving independently without this I believe you would not be allowed in. In Sanaa we stayed at the Arabia Felix (Arabia Felix Hotel, Sana'a) one of the few if not the only hotel still open in the old town. We walked around the souk with Akmed & ate at the Al Shaibani restaurant. The traffic in Sanaa is terrible – worse now that there are so many army check points. Parts of the city around University Square & Tahrir Square are blocked off to all traffic. The power goes off at night but the hotel had a generator use for part of it. Akmed is a conscientious English speaking guide with a thorough knowledge of which parts of the city are ok & which to avoid. On our return through Sanaa Akmed had got us travel permits so we were able to visit Shibam/Kawkaban & Wadi Dahr.

We flew Felix Air (tickets arranged by Abduljameel) from Sanaa to Socotra with a stop on the ground in Mukalla. Our bags were overweight but they waived the excess fee. On Socotra we stayed 5 nights at Dihamri eco lodge, 1 night at Ditwah & 1 night at Adeebs near Hadibo. Tents are provided but we slept outside. We did 6 days diving at Dihamri, Erissel, Adho, Rosh, Quisalaya & Shuub & 2 land trips to Homhil & the Dixsum plateau. We had a guide (Sammy), driver (Mohamed) & dive guide (Nassem). Food was plentiful – bread, cheese, jam, rice, pasta, beans, curried vegetables, grilled fish & goat. Plenty of tea, water & soft drinks – no alcohol. The dives were mainly on sand flats at say 60 feet covered with coral heads. Being relatively undived the coral condition is superb with an incredible amount of fish life – nurse & whitetipped sharks, skates, reys, eels, turtles & schools & schools of fish – the Shuub wreck in particular was just covered in blankets of fish. Generally, 15 minute boats rides to the sites in fishing boats. Drift dives no buoys. Visibility around 50 feet. Although a limited amount of spare equipment is available, best to bring your own. 5 mm wetsuits. Some of the best diving I have done in the Red Sea & Arabian Sea (comparing with Egypt, Eritrea, Maldives, Mauritius).

Socotra is a wonderful place both above & below the water. Even if you do not travel through Sanaa it is possible to get there by flying from Sharjah in the U.A.E. via Mukalla. Go now – you will not regret it.


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