YPT are proud to announce the Arabian Sea mega combo, from the Yemeni island of Socotra to Somaliland & Eritrea! Join us for a truly off the beaten track experience to two of the planet’s least visited destinations – Somaliland and Eritrea – and one of the most unique islands on the planet – Socotra.
We begin in Oman where we take a ship to the Yemeni island of Socotra. Suffering civil war, coups, revolutions, not to mention bombings in recent years, the country of Yemen is generally off the radar for tourists. Unless that is you know about the island of Socotra.
Located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula where the Arabian Sea meets the Indian Ocean, Socotra is an ecological wonder of the world. Almost alien looking landforms sit above beautiful beaches, and the archipelago is home to a diverse and often unique flora and fauna.
Whether it’s coming to a new and hard to get to country, or exploring an ecological paradise, that you are interested in, Socotra is the place.
Next we move onto the former British protectorate and self-declared republic of Somaliland. This de-facto state declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991; however, no international organization has recognized its sovereignty.
Still recovering from a brutal civil war, today the area is very safe and the local people are extremely welcoming and interested in foreign visitors. Somaliland is fundamentally different from the other countries in the region — and almost anywhere else on the planet. We’ll take you to smoke shisha with the locals, swim in untouched waters and visit ancient cave art!
Finally we head to Eritrea. This fascinating country falls well below most travellers radars which makes it a unique off the beaten track experience. Eritrea boasts pristine coastline and untouched Red Sea islands as well as some of the best-kept colonial architecture in Africa. On top of all that we take part in the two-day festival to celebrate Eritrea’s independence!
The Eritrean capital city of Asmara is like a film set from an early Italian movie, with vintage Italian coffee machines and outstanding examples of Art-Deco architecture. Although the country faces numerous hardships, it paradoxically remains one of Africa’s most peaceful, secure and welcoming destinations.
**€3,495 or €4,195 with all flights from Salalah, Oman, to Somaliland and Somaliland to Eritrea via Dubai **
Own arrival in the Southern Omani city of Salalah; the starting point of our cruise to Socotra Island
Meeting at our central hotel at a time to be confirmed
Head out for our first look at this port city and then dinner of local Omani food, before heading to the Oasis Club for a few drinks.
Overnight in Salalah
Monday 7th May
After breakfast we head for the old town and check out the Haffa souq local market and the beach
Lunch at the Ba’albek café for Lebanese food
Free afternoon to explore the Sultanate’s second city and stock up on provisions for the boat ride
We board our very own YPT charter ship at 6pm for the overnight sailing to Socotra.
Dinner on board but pack your own drinks!
Tuesday 8th May
9am arrival at Socotra and transfer to Adeeb’s eco-lodge in Hadibo to check in, relax, recuperate and have lunch.
After lunch we head to Ayhaft Canyon National Park. Hike in the park and swim in the freshwater pools. The park is renowned for it’s vegetation and birdlife
Drive to Delisha beach. Go for another swim in either the sea or the freshwater lagoon
Climb the huge sand dune overlooking the beach and watch the sunset over Delisha
Dinner and overnight at the Adeeb’s Eco-lodge
Wednesday 9th May
After an early breakfast, drive to the northeast of Socotra and explore the Dihammri Marine Protected Area
Dihammri is famous for snorkelling and has the best coral reef in Socotra. We’ll spend the morning diving or for those less keen on the water checking out the beach (diving equipment available to hire)
Lunch on the beach
Drive to Terbak village
Hike up the hillside then explore Hoq Cave (4 hour hike). Hoq is over 3000 metres deep and is the site of many archaeological findings in Socotra that date back nearly 2000 years.
Drive to Ras Erisel, the eastern point of the island where the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean meet. Known as a ship graveyard to the locals many wrecks are sunk in the ocean here.
Climb the Arher sand dune for a panorama of the area and to watch the sunset
Dinner and overnight camp at Arher campsite
Thursday 10th May
Set off after breakfast for a drive through the canyons of Defarhu Valley to the southern coast of Socotra.
Stop off in traditional villages for a look at rural life in Socotra
Drive to Hayf and Zahek villages which stand in the shadow of enormous sand dunes, before heading to Omak beach on the Indian Ocean
Swim, sunbathe or relax on the beach, or hike up to Digub Cave and explore it’s stalactites and stalagmites
Drive up to Dixam plateau (700 metres) to the Shebahon viewpoint for a spectacular view and a look at the Dragon’s Blood Tree – the quintessential example of endemic local fauna on Socotra
Dinner and overnight camping will be at the Wadi Dirhur campsite
Friday 11th May
Up bright and early to explore the western part of the island. Our first stop will be Qalansiya, a small traditional fishing town. From there we will hop on a boat and head to Shuaab
The boat ride is fun in and of itself, but we’ll try and spot spinner dolphins that regularly follow the boats!
Arrive in Shuaab and swim at the beach before we explore the mangrove swamp just behind it
Lunch in Shuaab
Get the boat back to Qalansiya and check out the Detwah lagoon, another place famed for its landscape and wildlife
Dinner and overnight camp at Detwah Lagoon Protected area
Saturday 12th May
After breakfast we have a free morning to enjoy the beach before we transfer to Socotra seaport and grab lunch.
Check out the visitor centre in Hadibo and grab provisions for the boat
Early evening sailing on our YPT charter boat and overnight on the boat
Sunday 13th May
Arrival in Salalah
Free afternoon for some much needed R&R at our hotel
Head out for an Indian in Salalah before heading back for drinks at the hotel
Overnight in Salalah
Monday 14th May
Check out and catch our 10am flight to Dubai
Transfer to our hotel in Dubai where you have free time to stock up on some supplies before heading for the Horn of Africa
We head back to the airport at 1.30am to catch our flight out to Hargeisa
Tuesday 15th May
Early morning arrival in Hargeisa where we are met at the airport by our guides who will transfer us to our hotel downtown
Get some much needed rest before meeting up that evening for our first Somali group dinner
Dinner at a newly opened and popular Syrian restaurant run by refugees from Damascus. We’ll have a chance to chat with them and hear how they find life in Somaliland.
After dinner you can walk around the bustling city center in Hargeisa, and have some chai with the friendly locals or do some shopping for t-shirts and flags for Independence Day.
Wednesday 16th May
Visit the two hills called Naaso Hablood (“Girl’s Breasts”) also known as Hargeisa’s landmark. On the way we visit the cemetery for British Soldiers who died here battling against the Italians during the Second World War. Hargeisa is the former capital of British Somaliland, while Italy controlled what is now Somalia.
We will have lunch at a Somali-Yemeni restaurant with some Somalilander intellectual icons who will give us the political, social, historical and cultural introduction of the country.
We will then take a walking tour around the city center of Hargeisa to get a sense of the people and the city. Here you will see street money exchangers and their “chunk” of bills, the central market, and the MiG Jet fighter War Memorial which stands for the atrocities committed by the dictator during the Civil War. The War Memorial is in the middle of the buzzing centrum and a great place for a coffee and chat with Somalilanders about politics and history.
Visit to the busy market in downtown Hargeisa for some evening shopping and people watching.
Dinner and a night out to hang around with Somalilander people.
Thursday 17th May
After breakfast a visit to the livestock market where you can purchase your own camel or goat! For those who can’t fit a camel in their luggage, this market will provide great photo opportunity and a chance to see how the locals do business.
Afternoon visit to Laas Geel, the most important rock art site in Africa. These caves contain some of the oldest cave paintings on the horn of Africa; the vibrant colors and well preserved paintings are estimated to be around ten thousand years old.
Make the 60km drive back to Hargeisa and spend the evening at your leisure.
Friday 18th May – Independence Day!
We’ll get up nice and early for a quick breakfast before hitting the streets to observe the military and civilians’ parades. Everyone will be dressed in the national colors on the street, and this is one of the only places on earth to take part in an independence day in an unrecognized country!
After lunch and a short break, we will visit ex-child-soldiers’ house, who now are successful investors and entrepreneurs. We will listen to their stories with some Somali tea and chaat, the local drug, and have a chance to ask them some questions about their experiences.
After sunset, we will hit the main drag of Harnett street for a huge party!
We will have traditional dinner accompanied by traditional music and dance – the night will finish very late with all of the celebrations taking place. Feel free to wear national costume!
Saturday 19th May
We will head to the most important port of Somaliland, Berbera. Upon our arrival, we will visit historical Ottoman Mosque and Ottoman houses.
Late lunch will be served at the Ottoman houses, and we will relax a bit (it will be VERY hot).
Short boat trip to see the ship wrecks in the Gulf of Aden.
We will relax and swim at untouched beach, where local youth and families come and enjoy their down time. (Due to local culture, ladies will need to cover their body while in water.)
Tour the historic town of Berbera in early evening, where you will find more Ottoman, Persian, and British architecture of historic interest. This will be a great chance for some amazing photographs.
We will have fresh seafood at the waterfront for dinner.
Sunday 20th May
After breakfast, we will have a short free time in Barbera.
We head to the Berbera Airport to see one of the longest runways in Africa. It was built by the USSR in the 70s and used by The USA as an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle..
We’ll drive to the small town of Sheikh in the mountains, have tea, and walk around and enjoy the pleasant climate.
We’ll make the drive back to Hargeisa, followed by dinner and a night at the arcade and bowling center, sheesha lounge, and girls’ basketball and boys’ football matches.
Monday 21st May
End of Somaliland tour – continue onwards to Eritrea!
Airport transfer to the airport to catch the 7:35am flight to Dubai, for a noon arrival. We will have a hotel room booked so we can either crash, relax in the hotel or go out exploring.
Tuesday 22nd May
Get the 3:40am flight to Asmara, arriving at 6:30am
Our local guide will meet our flight at the airport and we will be transferred to our hotel, the “Crystal Hotel”.
We will meet our new group members at the hotel before heading out for our first group dinner and drinks in Eritrea!
Wednesday 23rd May
After breakfast we will have a walking tour of the center of town. We will see the spectacular art deco of Asmara built by the Italians at the turn of the last century, such as the Post office built 1916, Albergo Italia built in 1899, the presidential palace built in 1907, and the Hotel Hamasien built in 1916. Great photo opportunities!
We check out the Tank graveyard where we can see out-of-use tanks that were demolished during the war with Ethiopia.
Visit the City Hall to see various photo displays in commemoration of the thirty-years bitter struggle and the post-independence progress. The City Hall was established by the Italians in 1890, and is one of the oldest institutions in Africa. There will also be various inventions on display by young people.
Continue our tour of Asmara where we check out the various pre-Independence Day celebrations including modern and folklore dances, and even the Independence Day Marathon. Visitors are encouraged to join in, so bring your running shoes!
Pick up some amazing street food at one of the many festival stands!
Trip to the revolution square where we will watch various cinematographic dramas and performances.
Festival continues into the night culminating in a massive fireworks show at midnight to celebrate independence.
Thursday 24th May – Independence Day!
For those brave enough, there will be a 6am 21-gun salute to mark Independence Day.
Free time to walk around the city after breakfast and mingle with locals.
There will be various art exhibitions along the pedestrianized streets of the Main liberation avenue.
After lunch, we join the celebrations at Asmara Stadium. There will be various displays by the Military music band and the Eritrean Air force will fly over the stadium in a spectacular color show! Various dramas will be shown by many artists during the afternoon.
The Eritrean President will deliver a speech on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee. The show will come to an end by about 7pm.
Dinner and drinks to close out the Independence celebrations at a traditional restaurant, where you can sample injera and local alcohols… Followed by a dance party!
Overnight at the hotel in Asmara..
Friday 25th May
After a mini sleep in and some breakfast, we will board a 100 year old train and ride all the way to Nefasit.
Along the way we will go through thirty tunnels. This is definitely a trip highlight!
On board the train we will be offered a traditional coffee ceremony.
After breakfast our male visitors will go to Debre Bizen monastery on the top of a nearby mountain.
Unfortunately the ladies are not allowed to enter, so female visitors will stroll through the town of Nefasit or go hiking in the nearby mountains.
Drive back to Asmara.
Dinner at the best pizzeria in Asmara, “Spagetti and Pizza House”
Overnight at our hotel in Asmara.
Saturday 26th May
Hit the road for Massawa.
On the way we descend from 2400 meters above sea level to 0 meters. There will be a sharp rise in temperature, and we will pass through some incredible mountain scenery.
We have a coffee break on the way, and a late lunch of seafood injera. Arrival into Massawa at 4pm.
After some rest at the hotel, we’ll visit the town in late afternoon/ early evening and check out Gurgusum Beach, where we can swim and relax with local people.
Walking tour to take in the unique mixture of Turkish and Italian architectural design.
Dinner at the “Salam Restaurant”. Fresh fish prepared in traditional oven. This is a real local experience.
After dinner we explore the nightlife of Massawa and find some bars.
Overnight in Massawa.
Sunday 27th May
After breakfast we visit a local school in Massawa to learn about Eritrea’s education system and meet with the children.
Take a boat to Dahlac Marine National Park, the Red Sea’s largest archipelago of which just four islands are inhabited.
We visit ruins from the early Arabic/Islamic settlers of the 8th century, and also some local Tigranyan villages.
Those who have a diving license can check out Ethiopian weapons and vehicles dumped into the sea during the war. These have created large artificial reefs which are great for diving (additional cost for diving). Don’t dive? No problem – snorkeling equipment is also available.
In late afternoon/early evening, we will make our way back to Massawa.
Dinner, drinks, and overnight in Massawa.
Monday 28th May
After breakfast we head to Kohaito archaeological site. Drive is again on hair-pin roads in stunning mountain and village views which keep changing every few minutes.
We will take a coffee break in a small town on the way.
Up on arrival, we will have a picnic lunch and stunning view of “Grand Canyon”.
Tour around the ancient city and visit to the remnants of an old palace.
We will camp in Kohaito – bonfire, stars, local folk songs and conversations.
Tuesday 29th May
After a late breakfast, we will hit the road back to Asmara.
Arrival in Asmara at around 4pm – we will have free time in Asmara before joining up for a farewell dinner. We may be lucky enough to watch football in the famous Cinema Roma or, if interested, have a chance to briefly talk about your country or profession to young Eritrean students.
Farewell dinner and group drinks in Asmara.
Wednesday 30th May
End of tour
Airport transfers for those who require, depending on flight times.
Please note that the itinerary may change depending on the Somaliland government. Your safety is our top priority. Safety and security are the first questions in many people’s mind when travelling to a foreign country. If you are considering joining us on this exciting adventure, please note that Somaliland is NOT Somalia; and the country has been free from terrorist attacks since 2008. The Somaliland government does everything to ensure the security of their country, especially foreign visitors. We have a strong network in the country to provide us with the most up-to-date security information, including a leading international travel security consultant firm and the local government. We only lead our tours to protected regions. We will travel with 2-3 SPU (Special Protection Unit) soldiers when outside of Hargeisa. They are trained specially to protect foreign visitors. We also have several backup itineraries – i.e., in the unlikely event that an alert occurs in our destination, we will immediately change our itinerary. Please feel free to contact us if you have any particular questions. Thanks and happy travels!
•Boat between Salalah and Socotra
•Entry fees in the protected areas; Dihammri, Rosh, Homhil, Omak, Detwah Lagoon, Shuaab & Skand.
•Accommodation Fees: hotels, tourist resorts, eco-lodges, camping in protected areas.
•Camping equipment (like tent, pillow, mattress, sheets, mat, lights etc.)
•Cooking equipment and cook as well.
•Transportation: 4×4 private cars Toyota Land cruiser
•Pick up car for loading kitchen’s equipment’s as well as camping gears.
•Tour guide: (English, Arabic and Socotri speaking)
•Full board meals: (3 meals per day including dessert, soft drinks and snacks)
•Local guides at specific / remote places
•Boat trip to Shuaab for watching dolphins
•One meal will be served as seafood (Like lobsters, sea-shells, squid, shrimps etc.)
•Visa Fees (Somaliland 100 USD, Eritrea 70 USD subject to change) For information on the visa process, please read this.
•Flight from Somaliland – Eritrea (€700, subject to fluctuation)
•Local guide tips
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.