Price: 2190 Euro/person in DBL-room &
90 Euro/person SGL-Supplement. Price includes: airport
transfer, domestic flight, accommodations and meals (lunch
is typically picnic!), 2 L of drinking water, vehicle hire
with fuel and driver guide, park entrance fees and ranger
guides. The price exclude: bank transfer loss, international
flight, visa, sleeping bags, tips, drinks, personal travel
insurance and any other activities of personal request e.g.
laundry, toalet fees, phone calls, etc. Accommodation: Three-star hotels with all
rooms en suite. Numbers: Min. 6, max. 12 people with 2 guides.
Transport: Minivans. Description:
"...Join us to the remote island of Socotra! Despite
the fact that zoogeographical is not a part of the Western
Palearctic, the Yemen and Socotra Island is included in the
OSME region. The city of Sana'a and Socotra Island, has been
designated as a part of the World Heritage. Inhabited for
more than 2,500 years Sana`a is the capital of what the ancient
roman called “Arabia Felix”, being named after
the biblical Queen Shaba. At least 13 species of birds are
endemic to southwestern Arabia, and further 13 or so, are
endemic to Socotra Island. Due to the new taxonomic approaches,
almost yearly new taxons are described in Socotra as new full
species. Socotra Island held a rich diversity of plants and
animals, a third of which is found nowhere else in the world.
Most of the animals' lack of fear of humans, as the persecution
here is still close to zero. This outstanding expedition,
offers relaxation in the middle of the nature, a high percentage
of endemic plants and animals, beautiful landscapes and plenty
Top birds: Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli Eagle, Verreaux
Eagle, Lammergeier, Arabian Woodpecker, White-eyed Gull, Sooty
Gull, Saunder`s Tern, Crab Plover, Hume`s Tawny Owl, Northen
Bald Ibis (?), Black Bush Robin, Arabian Partridge, Philby`s
Partridge, Blanford`s Lark, White-spectacled Bulbul, Nubian
Nightjar, Yemen Trush, Yemen Warbler, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian
Serin, Yemen Linnet, Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak and the
endemic or rare birds of Socotra: Socotra Scops Owl,
Jouanin`s Petrel, Socotra Buzzard, Socotra Pipit , Socotra
White-eye, Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak, Socotra Cormorant,
Socotra Sparrow, Socotra Starling (Socotra Cisticola, Socotra
Sunbird, Socotra Warbler, Socotra Chestnut –winged Starling
and the elusive Socotra Bunting.
Day 1:Arrival and
gathering in the International Airport of Sana’a,
the capital of Yemen. Transferred to our hotel, Arabia Felix,
located in the heart of the Old City. The 300-year old building
reflects the traditional Yemeni architecture and as the whole
Old City is designated as a world heritage site. After we
occupied our rooms, the one which dares to browse the local
bazaar will take a walk along the streets of the Old City
leaded by the European and the Yemeni guide. Among the rare
spices, beautiful silver wares anytime we can have a chance
to find unique items which can no more be find in our fast
globalizing world. Early dinner and a photo session of the
Old City from the top of our hotel will end of the first day,
leaving us to rest for the early departure to Mahweet.
Drive via Kawkaban to Mahweet, birding on
the way, focusing on the specialities of the area. Here we
should see Arabian and Philby's Partridges, Dusky Turtle Dove,
Little Rock Thrush, Shining and Palestine Sunbird, Abyssinian
White-eye, Fan-tailed Raven, Tristram’s Starling, Striolated
(Mountain) Bunting, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian Serin, Yemen
Linnet, Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak (which has an endemic
relative in Socotra Island) , Little Swift, Desert Lark, White-spectacled
Bulbul and Brown-necked Raven.
in Mahweet and surrounding. Here we should
find the endemic Arabian Woodpecker. This bird is as precious
for a birder as a White Raven for an Indian Medicine Man.
In the desertic regions of Arabian peninsula is close to a
miracle that a Woodpecker still survive in the region. On
the way, we`ll complete our targeted birds, which we eventually
fail to find on the previous day, completing it with Arabian
Partridge, Yemen Thrush, Yemen Warbler and Yemen Serin, as
well as other species of interest including Long-billed Pipit,
Mourning Wheatear, and Scrub and Brown Woodland Warblers.
If we don`t forget to scan the sky, our chances are increasing
with almost 100% to see some raptors, like Barbary Falcon,
Lammergeier and Bonelli’s Eagle. Scouting the wadis
int he surrounding we`ll look for Arabian Warbler, African
Paradise Flycatcher, Southern Grey and Masked Shrikes, Black-crowned
Tchagra (or Black-headed Bush Shrike) and Black Scrub Robin.
Thanks to the lush vegetation of this wadis, we may ecounter
species like Hammerkop, Egyptian Vulture, Tawny, Steppe and
Imperial Eagles, Long-legged Buzzard, Red-eyed Dove, Abyssinian
Roller, African Grey Hornbill, Blackstart, Bush Petronia,
Rüppell’s Weaver and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.
Drive to Manakha.
4:Drive to Taiz
sewage farms, the traditional wintering place
of the last Northen Bald Ibises (Geronticus eremita). Here
a birder feel what an explorer can feel, when he rediscover
a long last species. Anyhow, the Bald Ibises from the tiny
Syrian population, and who knows-from a remote unknown population
of the Middle East, have a chance to be ecountered here. Our
main target anyhow it will be the Arabian Accentor, which
is quite common int he surroundings. Yemen Warbler and Yemen
Thrush can be found here as well. We`ll keep an eye open along
the cultivated fields where the very localised Zebra Waxbill
can be found.
Day 5:Via Wadi Aldahab
to Lake Aden. At the marshes of the lake Aden
we may ecounter Sandpiper, Sooty, White-eyed and Heuglin’s
Gulls, Greater Crested, Lesser Crested and Saunders’s
Terns, and African Palm Swift. We will also keep a lookout
for Brown Boobies passing offshore. Other likely species include
Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill,
Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Garganey,
Northern Shoveler, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Western
Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt,
Pied Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Common Ringed, Little Ringed,
Kentish and Grey (or Black-bellied) Plovers, Spur-winged Lapwing,
Sanderling, Little and Temminck’s Stints, Dunlin, Ruff,
Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Eurasian Whimbrel, Eurasian
Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Marsh, Green,
Wood and Common Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstone, Slender-billed
and Caspian Gulls, and Gull-billed, Caspian, Sandwich, White-winged
Tern and Whiskered Terns. Possible species: Western
Cattle Egret, White Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Pallid and Montagu’s
Harriers, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common
Buzzard, Stone-curlew (or Eurasian Thick-knee), Chestnut-bellied
Sandgrouse, African Collared and Namaqua Doves, White-browed
Coucal, Little Green Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Singing Bush
Lark, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Greater Hoopoe, Greater
Short-toed and Crested Larks, Barn Swallow, Tawny and Tree
Pipits, Sykes’s, Grey-headed and White Wagtails, Isabelline
and Pied Wheatears, Common Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola (or
Fan-tailed Warbler), Graceful Prinia, Olivaceous, Upcher’s
and Ménétries’s Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat,
Spotted Flycatcher, Arabian Babbler, Nile Valley Sunbird,
Isabelline and Red-backed Shrikes, Steppe Grey Shrike (split
from Southern Grey), House Crow, the near-endemic Arabian
Golden Sparrow and African Silverbill. If we are fortunate,
we will encounter Helmeted Guineafowl, Spotted Thick-knee
and Nubian Nightjar.
6:Early wake up call, and after as many coffees
until we are conscious, we are leaving to the airport to catch
a domestic flight to the island
of Socotra. Leaving the mainland, we will
fly flying high above the amazing Indian Ocean. After landing
at the airport in Hadibu (capital of Socotra), we check-in
Taj Aljazeerah Hotel where finally well have a late breakfast
and again as much coffee as we need it. Following breakfast
well drive with our Toyota Landcruisers to finally explore
the island! The place is famous for the tame Egyptian Vultures
in their thousands, like the ones of Bir Shalatien in SE Egypt.
All along the coastline we`ll constantly explore places, gorges,
small wadis and gulfs. Sea birds, rare desert dwelling plants,
jewelry looking spiders and endemic insects will be our targets,
photo documenting all what we consider that worth our attention.
And that is definitely a lot! Our next stop will be Eriosh,
an interesting archeological site, with an ancient harbor
and inscriptions. From Eriosh, we continue our trip to the
science-fiction like Ayhaft
Valley. The monsoon showers permit lush vegetation
in this protected valley. There is a beautiful seasonal river
here and a natural reservoir where if is allowed, we can have
a refreshing swim. The ones which are interested in the fresh
water species may find here a paradise of endemic creatures,
from fishes to arthropods and plants. As most of the Socotran
feathered endemism can be found here, we will spend here as
much as we can, heaving even the lunch served here as a picnic.
Late afternoon we will return to our hotel for a refreshing
drink and dinner: Taj Aljazeera Hotel.
Homhil is about a 90 minutes drive from Hadibu.
We will leave our cars at the lower plain. Lunch will be served
by our hosts as a picnic, in the shelter of the Protected
Area. The protectorate offers a plenty of splendid landscapes
and wildlife, which is more than enough to keep us in motion
for the rest of the day. The much sought ancient incense source,
the Frankincense tree is at home in this amazing protectorate.
Some of the endemic birds will be find here: Somali Starling,
Egyptian Vulture, Socotra Sparrow and the local endemic Buzzard.
We will spend the night in our sleeping bags under the sparkling
sky, or under the shelter of the protectorate. Accommodation:
our own tents.
will be served in our shelter as soon as the early awakens
will return from their early morning birding. If we feel so,
we can explore a 10 km long cave full of amazing stalactites
and stalagmites as beautiful as the ones in the Hungarian
Aggtelek Cave or the huge cave of the Winds in Eastern Romania.
However the Hoq Cave,
as the Socotran cave is called, has his own particular beauty
which does not have to be missed, even if it is a long hiking
trip to the entrance of the cave. A well deserved lunch will
be served after the visit to the cave. Returning to our cars,
we continue to Erher.
Erher has one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.
Its sand dunes are covered by low shrubs and are hide a high
number or creatures, from insects to mammals. A creek which
leads to the mountain to the sea is a favorite bathing site
for Egyptian Vultures. The next stop will be a Marine Reserve
where none of a serious diver or snorkeler cannot miss the
opportunity to have a bath in this part of the Indian Ocean
with an amazing high diversity of sea creatures. This marine
reserve ”Di Hamri” will be the
overnight place of the group. Diner will be served on the
beach, which any millionaire would envy it!
9:Breakfast will be as early as we agree on
the previous night, before we face the rugged mountainous
interior of the Island, Dixem
Plateau. Some of the most spectacular limestone
landscape features the interior of the island. A walk along
the edge of an imense gorge we have a chance to admire and
photograph the stands of Dragon's Blood Trees and the extensive
limestone pavement. From the Dragon Blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari)
is extracted a resin, called ’dragon blood’ which
has been used for dyeing since ancient times. Bedouin herdsmen
are moving from one site to another with their herds. We will
choose the best place for lunch here in the middle of the
Socotran wilderness, in he heart of the Dragon Blood tree
forest. Afternoon will be spent in Daharo
Canyon. Here the Bruce's Green Pigeons and
Laughing Doves are in their element for the afternoon siesta.Again
the ones which have their swimming dress can swim in the wadi's
deep pool and then continue to explore the remote places of
the island. Socotra has been baptized as 'Island of Mists’
due to the clouds which regularly shroud from time to time
the huge Haggier peaks.We can decide here to take a longer
walk or to return by car to the already familiar Taj Aljazeera
hotel. After such a hard day, dinner will appear better than
After an early breakfast, we will go bird watching to the
coastal lagoons of Hadibu.
Gulls, terns and who know, even the nowadays extensively searched
Slender-billed Curlew can be find here, as we know that Yemen
is one of it`s wintering grounds. Cley Bird Club in North
Norfolk, UK, offer a total of $1,000 for any photograph of
a live Slender-billed Curlew taken in the Middle East! Birdlife
International is making efforts to relocate this extremely
rare bird, trough the Preventing Extinction Programe. As soon
as we got the picture, we`ll drive to the city of Qalansyia
to celebrate! It takes about 2 hours to reach our destination.
On the way of course we`ll have a stop to take some pictures.
Lunch in Qalanesia. The Detwah
Lagoon, near the city is truly stunning. From
the nearby hills, a magnificent view opens on the turquoise
blue water of the lagoon and the fine white sand of the shore.
In the shallow water of the huge lagoon, local people used
to catch rays by spear. We will walk in the shore looking
for the rays and bath in the warm water of the lagoon. From
here we take boats and continue our exploration further west.
Here is the place where every amateur naturalist can find
whatever he dreamed about. Dolphins, endemic sea birds, inc.
Jounanin's Petrel, overwhelming fish diversity, mangrove stands
with its colorful mangrove dwelling crabs.This will be our
last night spent in the middle of the nature, in our tents,
so we should use this opportunity to for a last gathering
around a honest camp fire where we serve the dinner in the
warm and friendly atmosphere of the Bedouin dinners.
Day 11:After a comfortable breakfast, we slowly begin to
drive back to Hadibou.
It doesn’t mean that we are driving like a bullet to
the crowded city, rather driving and photographing places
which we like. No not be called at return home „bird
freaks”, we shall have a dip in history. A XVI-th century
Portuguese fort well worth a visit. The King Manuel I of Portugal
was the first known European to invade Socotra in order to
have a base at the entrance of the Red Sea. On the way we
also stop for Socotra Cisticola. Lunch will be served at Taj
Aljazeera Hotel. As the afternoon wears off and the temperature
begins to drop, a pleasant visit will be made to the Socotra
Botanical Garden and Nursery. For a conservationist
is like fresh breeze to see that here environmental concerned
individuals are working to revive the biodiversity of the
island. Seeds of the endemic plants from the mountains and
grow them in the nursery in order to replenish the natural
population. In the evening we will have a delicious farewell
dinner and for those who choose the Egyptian
Pelagic Bird tour extension we`ll discuss the further
details. After dinner we do a short driveout to enjoy the
pool of Lichtenstein's Sandgrouses, sometimes up to 2000 birds
can turn around, depend on rainfall.
Day 12:Flying back to Saana,
departure day. Further programs aroun Saana is available.