This expedition will cover every terrain type on offer on Socotra from wide sandy beaches, to granite massifs, river valleys and wadis and open alpine plateaus. The vegetation ranges from desert scrubland to dense jungle forests and will present challenges of its own. Whilst the maximum elevation for this itinerary is around 1500m, there will be some sections of intense elevation gain/descent which can be physically taxing. You should also be prepared for river crossings.
April is the start of the summer season on Socotra so temperatures are beginning to rise, averaging 30 C during the day and around 20-25 C at night. These temperatures will reduce with elevation gain and exposed areas could be subject to some of the islands infamously strong winds which further lower the temperature. Rainfall is possible which will affect the condition of trails and you should be prepared for humid conditions in forested areas.
Travel to/from Hadibu is your responsibility. The expedition team will be met on arrival at Socotra Airport and transferred to the night’s accommodation by 4×4 vehicles. These will also be used to access the trailhead and to return the team to camp after the trek is completed. All other travel during the expedition will be on foot with camel support. It is not intended to use the camels for riding, however this does form part of Secret Compass’s emergency and risk management planning and team members should be happy to be around these animals (under supervision of the herders) and ensure they are insured for such activities.
Throughout the expedition, the team will be camping in tents provided by Secret Compass. These will be on a sole occupancy basis unless otherwise requested. The first, and last night will be spent at a beach-side eco-camp where there are more amenities including a restaurant, showers and toilets. All other campsites throughout the trip will be basic sites without permanent facilities such as wild camping spots or campsites near local communities.
Secret Compass will be sourcing the expedition food locally so you should expect basic but filling meals using local meat, fish and plenty of carbohydrates. Dietary requirements can be catered for (please note these on your application form) but may involve supplementing local supplies with dehydrated ration packs to ensure you reach an adequate amount of calories for the exertion levels required on this expedition. Whilst there will also be snacks on offer, it is recommended you bring at least one energy bar or favourite treat for each day of the trip for additional calories and a morale boost.
Yemen is an Islamic country and the majority of Socotrans are Muslims, although other religions are also present and traditional animistic beliefs are often woven into everyday life. The team should be aware of these sensibilities and dress conservatively along with avoiding drinking alcohol in public.
At all times, permission should be sought from individuals before taking any photos, particularly of women or children. The expedition is planned to conclude just before the start of the 2020 holy month of Ramadan, however if there are unforeseen delays, the team should be extra aware of the religious circumstances and their actions.
Men and women should both dress conservatively, avoiding shorts. Swimwear is acceptable at beaches but we suggest bringing a t-shirt or sarong for more coverage. Women are advised to bring a lightweight scarf which can be used to cover their hair and shoulders, particularly whilst in transit. Your team leader will let you know when you should consider using it and help avoid any unwanted attention. Once on the island, the dress rules are massively relaxed and you will not need to cover your hair – but may choose to anyway to escape the sun!
We are only going to be able to achieve what we want to do with the help of people in the communities we travel through. The people will be very hospitable and friendly to us, strangers in their land. Please remember that they may look at life from a very different perspective.
They may not have the same concept of time, environmental responsibility or ‘customer service’ – patience and understanding are our tools and by taking the time to meet and learn from the communities en route, along with the expedition support team, the expedition experience will be greatly enhanced.
Secret Compass staff will be carrying at least two methods of communication, usually a Satellite Phone and a Garmin InReach two-way communication device. These will be used for regular updates to SCHQ and for emergencies.
Unfortunately, routine communication between team members and family/friends is not possible – please reassure them that no news is good news! If there is an emergency and someone needs to contact a team member, they can contact Secret Compass’s Operations Room on +44207 096 8428 – the SCHQ team will then endeavour to pass on a message to the expedition leaders within 24 hours.
You should not expect mobile coverage during this expedition so please plan accordingly and embrace the opportunity to unplug and unwind. There will be no opportunity to charge electronics during the trek so please come prepared with spare batteries, power packs or solar chargers.