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Dragon Trees and Frankincense

Azure seas and pristine white sands surround this rugged island, whose central spine of limestone and granite uplands are home to some truly remarkable plants and endemic birds.

Extremes of climate have encouraged ingenious ways of preserving precious moisture with an abundance of bottle trees, cucumber trees, giant tree-like spurges and the amazing Dorsteinia gigas, a swollen fig tree. We’ll walk among the fabled Frankincense Trees and visit stands of statuesque Dragon Trees Dracaena cinnabari whose unique flattened crowns form pure forests at Rokeb di Firmihin. There are no less than seven species of Frankincense Tree (out of twenty species worldwide) on the main island and we’ll likely see all of them, including one that is more like a rock than a tree!

Dragon Trees sunset © Ian Green

Winter rains encourage fresher growth too, with the rich rusty-red pentagonal blooms of Caralluma socotrana, deep blue Commelina imberbis, bright yellow hibiscuses, brilliant red-flowered Kalanchoe farinacea and maybe the stunning and macabre four-inch wide flowers of Edithcolea grandis. Wedged into crevices on higher peaks are bright pink Begonia socotrana and beside scarce running water grow masses of mauve-blue Exacum affine. Socotra also has a unique and special fauna with a number of endemic bird species. Among dense shrubberies of Jatropha unicostate, Crotons and Euphorbia arbuscula are Socotra Sunbird, Socotra Warbler and Socotra Starling and we’ll have a good chance of finding the wonderful Socotra Chameleon. The highland areas are also home to the pretty Socotra Bunting and down among the date palms we may find diminutive Socotra Scops Owl and Bruce’s Green Pigeon. Golden-winged Grosbeaks sing by the entrance to the huge Hoq Cave, inside which are many superb formations. Nobody has ever reached the end of the cave system!

You are never far from the coast on Socotra and indeed it is the sea that provides much of the islanders’ sustenance. Marine life is so rich it seems you merely have to put your hands into the water to pull out dinner! One of our campsites is in a marine nature reserve where the waters are thick with colourful fish – a kaleidoscope of colour greets us as we enter the warm waters. Swarms of Indian Triggerfish, Sohail Surgeonfish and Silver Batfish crowd around coral heads where pairs of exquisite Solander’s Tobys defy us to approach their castle. There’s a dozen species of Butterflyfish and impressive Trapeze and Regal Angelfishes. Diversity is amazing – Honeycomb Moray, Cube Boxfish, Scribbled Filefish, and all sorts of colourful Wrasse and Parrotfish! Green Turtles cruise past and overhead Great Crested Terns are abundant. Red-billed Tropicbirds breed on the cliffs close to Shoab, where we’ll spend time amongst cavorting Spinner Dolphins. We might see Whale Sharks here too. Masked Boobies, Brown Boobies and Socotra Cormorants are amongst a good range of seabirds.

Chameleon © Chris Gardner

We’ll spend plenty of time enjoying (and photographing!) an array of stunning, untouched landscapes, incredible sunrises over the dragon trees, towering sand dunes as well as swimming in deep cool highland pools and experiencing the fine hospitality of the exotic Soqotri people. We’ll be able to stay in the most beautiful and remarkable of these landscapes as our local team will daily move our lovely large Arabian-style tents and have them ready for us when we arrive!

Dates and Prices

11th February - 18th February 2025 (8 days)

Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi £3,600
Deposit £400

or ask us a question.

Please note; dates and prices are provisional and will be confirmed by August 2024

Tour Summary

Day 1
To Socotra & Homhil
Day 2
Homhil and Irasel Beach
Day 3
Hoq Cave & Dihamry Marine Reserve
Day 4
Dihamry Marine Reserve & to Omeq Beach
Days 5-6
Dixiam, Rokeb di Firmihin, Dirhor Canyon & Qalansiyah Lagoon
Day 7
Shoab and Wadi Ayaft
Day 8

Tour information


Flora, Birds, Marine Life and Wild Landscapes


Ian Green , Stefano Doglio , Local Leaders

Group Size

The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 14.

Included in the Price

All flights. All transport, meals and accommodation in Yemen and Socotra. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, visas, tips and items of a personal nature including insurance, are not included.
Flower and bird checklists are available.


Camping may not be everyone’s cup of tea but this is really the way to experience the amazing landscapes and wildlife of Socotra. We use large Arabian-style tents. They are 4m diameter and you can stand in them throughout – we accommodate a maximum of two people per tent. If you prefer a single occupancy tents there are little tents available too. Each tent comes with mattresses and pillows. We move camps each night and each camp is in a stunning location so you are always there at the best time for both wildlife viewing and photography. The camps also come with tables and chairs and in some places with shelters too for meeting and eating under. Our cooks serve good island staples with various baked and fried fish, chicken, rice, eggs and delicious fresh flatbreads. There’ll be more than one chance to feast on the island’s delicious lobsters! On several of the nights the camps are set by permanent toilet and shower facilities but on three of the nights there are no such facilities…


Generally only a few miles a day, but with a number of steep walks up on to cliff tops, these along rocky and sometimes narrow paths. The terrain is always uneven and rocky with areas of sharp limestone and tough shrubberies.


We use the once weekly flights from Abu Dhabi to Socotra. These depart very early morning and arrive back into Abu Dhabi in the morning a week later.


Mostly clear and sunny and then it gets hot quickly, though temperatures rarely exceed 30°C at this season. Thick mist can descend on the highlands swiftly and envelop the area, greatly reducing visibility, though we’ll mostly be below this.

How to Book

Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.

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