Essential information for Socotra

Socotri standards:

Travelers to Socotra must understand that Socotra is an eco-tourism system and fairly new to the international tourist market. Hence the Socotra hotel accommodation standard, though good, may not be up to the same international standards that one would expect in a more developed atmosphere. We at Socotra Eco-tours believe that this only adds to the appeal of a visit to the island of Socotra.

 
Getting to Socotra Island:

Felix Airlines (Saida) offers two flights per week to Socotra:  Sana’a – Mukalla-Rian  – Socotra (Saturday and Wednesday). It offers also a flight from Sharjah (UAE) to Socotra every Wednesday and back to Sharjah every Saturday. Yemenia Airways offers only one flight a week from Sana'a to Socotra and back every Monday. Flight duration is approximately 2,5 hours for the flight via Mukalla since the aircraft waits only 30 minutes there.

Check Felix Airways websites or  Socotra flights last update for the most up to date flight schedules. Socotra Eco-tours can arrange the flights for you and send you electronic plane tickets.  

 
When to go to Socotra:

Climate is a crucial issue to consider when planning your trip to Socotra. Avoid the monsoon season from June till September when strong winds sweep the island. However, if you are a surfing enthusiast come in July or August when wind is growing in speed and waves are getting higher.

Nature enthusiasts should go from early October to late May. Generally, wildlife and natural viewing is most rewarding from the end of January through May.  However in April and May temperatures are on the rise. You will need plenty of spare clothes to change frequently.

Visa for Yemen:

Buying visa upon arrival was canceled in February 2010 and you must get your visa in advance at the Yemeni embassy in your home country. The procedure however is not complicated and almost any nationality should be able to get visa within  couple of days.

Socotra Eco-Tours can issue you visa and send you an electronic copy. original copy will be handed to you upon your arrival.

 VISAS PROCEEDURES:

(Visa fee is $50 per person – you can pay it when you are here in Socotra).

We need you to send us copy of your passports in order to process your visas from here. Once we received the scan of your passport page (the one with photo) we will process the visa and send you a scan of the visa two weeks before your arrival. Please bring it with you. The original will be waiting for your upon your arrival at the shelter called "VISAS" (on the left side of the Sana'a arrival hall – if arriving via Sharjah this will take place in the Socotra airport and we will be there to help you). You hand them your passport and the scan of the visa. They will put the visa into your passport. You do not need to pay anything at this point. With the passport now provided with a visa and the filled-in "arrival card" you proceed to the immigration and then pick up your luggage. This is when you will meet our representative.

VERY IMPORTANT: Stuff happens…. There may be an internet problem or miscommunication or some such… So please contact us a week before your arrival in case you haven’t received your visa to Yemen.

 ACCOMODATION OPTIONS:

Most of our itineraries are "ECO" so we strongly suggest to our guests to stay in eco campsites. There are however two eco lodges close to Hadibo: Adeeb and Delisha.and four hotels on Socotra, all of them in Hadibo: three economic hotels  (Taj Socotra Hotel, Socotra Tourists Hotel and Hafej Hotel). The stay in the hotel is included in the itinerary. 

For some of our clients certain services are indispensable. We suggest that they opt for more expensive option: the Summerland hotel which costs $75 single room, $140 double room and $220 suite. Please, let us know if you want to be accommodated at Summerland so we can add it to your itinerary.

 COMMUNICATION OPTIONS

There is no possibility of using your GSM mobile phone on Socotra, and anyway in many places there is no mobile coverage (which some of our visitors find a relief!) BUT: life is life and sometimes you absolutely need to be reachable or to reach someone. In these cases we can provide your guide with a CDMA mobile phone which has a sim-card and you can buy the scratch cards to replenish it (to top it up) and use it as you go.

INTERNET OPTIONS

The only place where you can use internet on Socotra is in the capital, Hadibo where you will not be for a long time. It is possible to check your email, etc in our agency, but the connection is very slow, so do not count on surfing the web, watching YouTube, ADD: talking on skype or downloading big files. You can eventually use our desktop and connection to transfer your photos from your memory card to your flicker account, but better take an extra memory card, because you will take more pictures than you thought – our island is really beautiful

 ELECTRICITY OPTIONS

In Hadibo and in the eco-lodges recharging your batteries, camera, etc is possible. Outside Hadibo, your guide will do his best to help you but it is advisable to bring a spare pack or two.

 

Payment:

As there is no ATMs services on Socotra, we will expect you to pay for the itinerary and the visa in cash (preferably US dollars or else euros) when you are here in Socotra at the beginning or at the end of your tour. If you do not like to carry cash with you, then you can wire us the totality or part of it, we leave it up to you. The only amount that we NEED to get via wire is the cost of your domestic tickets, as this is outside our accounting system.  We will send you our bank details once you plan to do the transfer.

Money on Socotra:

There are no ATMs on Socotra, credit cards and travel cheques are not accepted. Therefore it is recommended to bring enough cash with you. Dollars and Euro can be easily exchanged in the CAC bank or the National Bank of Yemen that have their branches in Hadibo. The currency rates are as good as on the mainland.

When travelling with Socotra Eco-tours, you only need local currency for private purchases as our prices are all inclusive (food, hotel & camping accommodation, car, guides, entrance fees etc.).

 
Health Precautions for Socotra:

Socotra is currently free of malaria, so use of malaria prophylactics is not recommended.  However, as mosquitoes occur locally, we do recommend to use insect repellent when sitting outside after sunset.  Cholera is not present on the island at all.  We recommend you drink only bottled mineral water; it’s readily available in Hadibo and Qalansiya and Socotra Eco-tours guide will have plenty for you all the time of your stay.

You don’t need any special vaccination to travel to Socotra. Common vaccines such as hepatitis A and B and tetanus are recommended as for any other travels.

The hospital and health units on Socotra offer only basic medical services.  Pharmacies are presented around Hadibo but it is much better to have your own first aid kit with drugs you have good experience with.

 
Time Zone:

GMT + 3 hours, same as on the Yemeni mainland.

 
Power supply on Socotra:

Electricity from public network is only available in Hadibo from afternoon hour till early morning. Some eco-campsites have solar panels allowing you to recharge your camera batteries. Hotels and restaurants often have their own small generator.

Plugs are generally two-pin and multiple plugs (British style). Socket adapters are easily available in shops. We Recommend you bring a car charger (working on the cigarette lighter) if you require to charge electrical appliances.

 
Communication on Socotra:

Yemen Mobile network operates on Socotra. However CDMA mobiles are needed and this system is not compatible with western GSM mobile phone systems (which work on the mainland). Our guides all travel with local mobile phones and they can act as contact for family abroad when travelling with Socotra Eco-tours.

Telephone lines are available in Hadibo.

Internet access is available only in Hadibo, you can have internet access for free at Socotra Eco-Tous office anytime you wish.

The post office is located at the center of Hadibo, in Hadibo Local Council next to the main mosque.

 
Where to buy souvenirs on Socotra:

 

There are not so many opportunities to buy souvenirs on Socotra. So if you see something you like don’t wait for later and buy it at the spot.

Socotra Women Association shop, Hadibo: opened in morning hours and late afternoon. You will find incense burners, rugs, woven baskets, some jewellery, solar lamps.

Honey Association shop, Hadibo: open in morning hours and then late afternoon till night. You can buy highly praised Socotri honey, traditional sets for making fire, some traditional utensils, some jewellery.

Old Hadibo market, street corner near Inet Café: women sell traditional incense burners decorated by dragon blood and sticks for cleaning teeth (miswak)

Dragon blood, frankincense, woven strips for comfortable sitting (habwa) and other traditional souvenirs are usually offered in eco-campsites, children also sell them by the Folklore Museum in Raqlah, in Homhill, Erher village with a small souvenir shop, Ras Irsil. 

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