While we have already written a FAQs about Socotra answering the question partially and another blog dedicated to getting a visa for Socotra, we felt that the land of the Dragon Blood tree and paradise island needed a blog dedicated on how to getting there. Getting to Socotra is definetely not like getting to Bangkok and definetely more like getting to Nauru.Nonetheless, here is YPT’s guide to getting to Socotra Island.
Basically, there are currently 3 ways to get to Socotra:
This was the method of the old days. For a long time, people could only get to Socotra by chartering a boat from the port of Salalah, Oman and set sail to Socotra. Many ships have been used to get to Socotra, going from leisure ships to hitchhiking on a cement boat. This method involved a lot of money but also a lot of trust. Many operators were, let’s say, dodgy and promises which couldn’t be held were given.
The boat ride takes about 4 days each ways, which considerably lengthen the time necessary to visit Socotra. Getting to Oman, sailing there, sailing back, leaving Oman, we’re talking about approximately 10 days and that’s without the time spent on the island.
It is also worth mentioning that Socotra is actually closer to Somalia than Yemen and that, while piracy is at an all time low, it used to be a big thing in Somalia so, unless it is the only way, we don’t see why people should go there by boat nowadays apart from bragging rights and a story to remember.
By Domestic Flight
Yemenia, Yemen’s domestic carrier has very recently resumed flights to Socotra. Currently, there are flights to Socotra from Seiyun and Aden, the temporary capital of Yemen. The direct flights are not so expensive but, there’s a big but.
To get there, you have to travel to Yemen overland. And this involves a lot of things. First, you will probably have to get to Salalah and find a fixer willing to drive you to the border of Yemen and Oman. There, you will need to go through immigration and it is highly irregular. For some nationalities, Oman will not let you leave at that border without a letter from your embassy saying that they approve of your trip to Yemen. Generally, embassies will not issue this kind of letter. The issuance of your Yemen visa on arrival really is at the mercy of the customs officer. For others, you will have to cross and sometimes you will be asked to leave your passport at the border. Here, probably, everything will depend on the work of your fixer. Once you are cleared to go, your driver will have to bring you to Seiyun. The situation in mainland Yemen is quite volatile and you’ll have to make your own risk assessment about this trip within a country which is currently at war. Once you are in Seiyun, you’ll have to get to the airport and catch Yemenia’s flight to Socotra. This whole venture is shorter than taking a boat with the drive from Salalah to Seiyun taking about 14 hours. You’ll have to stay overnight and then catch your Wednesday morning flight to Socotra.
By International Flight
The flight from Seiyun to Socotra we’ve just mentioned starts from somewhere else, actually. It is possible to catch this flight from Cairo, making it Yemenia’s only international flight at the moment. Another company, Felix Airways, can arrange flights from Khartoum and Djibouti to Aden technically, but, frankly, we’ve never heard of anyone taking that flight. It would involve getting a visa for Yemen that would work at the airport and then transfer, which is probably much more trouble than it’s worth.
The flight from Cairo to Socotra is scheduled every Wednesday. It leaves Cairo at 2 am and reaches Socotra in the early morning. Around 9 am, it flies back to Cairo and that’s it until next week. This means that if you miss your flight, you’ll be checking the pyramids for a week (or maybe visit Sudan?) until the next flight. Likewise, a stay in Socotra cannot be shorter than a week at the moment and, if you want to stay a bit longer than that, you’ll have to stay fourteen days.
While this option is the simplest of all, it is not all that simple. First, Yemenia’s flights cannot be booked online. You need to buy them at their office in Cairo or at least have someone go and buy them for you (hello the 70s or golden age of aviation). That person will need to meet you and hand you the ticket personally. Luckily, if you book a tour to Socotra with YPT, we’ll take care of that for you! Roundtrip tickets aren’t all that cheap, slightly above €1000, but are definetely worth it to be in such a special place.