Close your eyes and imagine paradise — feel the blissful breeze stroking your skin with the quiet whispers of the emerald, crystal-clear water. Hear the rumble of a green, lush forest and imagine aromatic, tasty food, spiced up with the sky full of stars… Think of the trees you’re never seen, the landscape you can never forget. Think of happiness roaring in your heart and positive thoughts flourishing in your mind. Imagine peaceful holidays where your daily problems feel smaller than ever and your worries magically fade away. Now slowly open your eyes…and listen carefully to what Socotra has to offer.
Nowadays happiness doesn’t come easy, in contrary it is a skill we need to practise. Definitely it is easier to practise happiness on holidays, far away from daily problems. That’s right, but the biggest trick is to discover how to find the same peace of mind when we are back home, back to our busy schedules. The reason I promote Socotra so much is that finding the key answer for that question is slightly easier here than anywhere else. The peace of heart and the peace of mind that you cultivate in Socotra somehow comes back with you, packed in your mental suitcase, ready to be unpacked at home. This holiday is indeed a great exercise for all workaholics, technology freaks, social media addicts and those glued to their mobiles.
Indulge in endless beauty of Socotra and discover 10 secrets to live a happier life:
1. Escape the crowds
The uniqueness of Socotra is undeniable. You might be surprised though how little tourist you meet while exploring the island. We met one. During our visit there were total of 10 tourists in Socotra. We knew that for sure thanks to local guides who were informed well about exact number of travellers coming to the island. Intimacy and peace is truly guaranteed. Any burning problem to think over? Too much stress in your life? Your phone can’t stop ringing? Come to Socotra.
2. Take a biology class and learn new species
Named as the Galapagos of Indian Ocean by many geographers and biologist, the title is not exaggerated. Socotra is home to over 300 endemic species. That’s a lot! A jewel of biodiversity which is not that difficult to reach. The most characteristic species are: the Bottle Tree, the Cucumber Tree and most spectacular the Dragon Blood Tree. You can find chameleons, interesting birds (Socotra Sparrow, Socotra sunbird, Somali Starlings) and colourful underwater life including dolphins, sharks, sting rays, turtles etc all in the waters around the island.
3. Swim in the clearest water ever
Forget about the Bahamas, Hawaii or Thailand, they have beautiful beaches no doubts, but be sure you’re not the only one who appreciates their beauty. Many people equals pollution, pollution equals less joy, less underwater life, less intimacy, less fun. In Socotra there is this mind-blowing, jaw-dropping Detwah Lagoon with the most beautiful long, sandy beach I have ever seen. I’ve been lucky to visit many amazing beach destinations including all mentioned above plus Fiji, Maldives, Seychelles etc. Never though have I seen something so pure, so breathtakingly clear and available just to me (to us). It felt as if we just landed at the private beach for some rich celebrities. A delightful feeling, I swear.
4. Test your fitness limits
Clime the trees, dive into freshwater pools, sand-board the dunes, get your scuba gear wet, run all around, exercise yoga at the beach, jump from the cliffs, stretch your arm muscles rowing across the ocean, play hide and seek with your tour guide, hunt for your dinner, walk gracefully with the flamingos, collect seashells, work out with your partner (twice a day recommended) both inside and outside of your tent. There are so many ways to stay fit in Socotra, no excuses to be lazy. Make this holidays a healthy one. Your body will keep saying thank you for the next months to come.
5. Greet one another by touching noses
Not only Eskimo has this cute way of greeting each other. When two local men meet, they grab each other’s hand and touch noses three times. I can confirm that, I’ve seen with my own eyes. The tradition says that when local women meet, they kiss four times on the same cheek. This local custom I cannot confirm, if any of you, my dear readers, know something about that, please let me know. (Un)fortunately touching noses does not apply to foreigners.
6. Count the stars
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars, yeah we’ll be counting stars
Counting stars has been my favourite song by OneRepublic for a long, long time. Socotra is for sure a right destination to forget about money and a place to start counting stars. A geographical isolation of the island makes it a perfect spot to enjoy the star show each and every night of your journey there.
7. Appreciate technology detox
You feel remoteness of the island in your every cell (phone). There is no possibility of using GSM mobiles in Socotra, and anyway in many places there is just no mobile coverage. The internet can be found just in the capital (Hadibo) and is also very limited, good maybe for checking e-mails and simple websites. During our trip we had few emergency internet stops at our tour agency office — for basic needs it worked just fine. Unspoiled by technology, the island is a heavenly escape from all the gadgets and time-consuming inventions of the 21st century. Check out from online,cyber life and check into a real adventure full of nature, face-to-face conversations and real human touch.
8. Get close to nature while camping
Camping in Socotra is nothing like a fancy glamping you see in the promotion materials about Kenya. Here you truly experience the real nature with its best and worst aspects. It is the paradise but still mosquitos found their way to sneak into its gates and you will need a spray to get rid of them. An access to well equipped bathrooms is also quite limited so don’t dream about hairdryers, heated floor or white robe waiting for you. The conditions you live in are basic but stay calm — that pure air, fresh food and lack of stress will still pamper your beauty.
9. Eat organic
Your food will be prepared on daily basics by tour guides and be sure that they use just local, fresh and healthy ingredients. In Socotra they have to import almost everything, so a can of coke feels like an unnecessary luxury. Meals are pretty basic with a lot of bread and honey (Yemen is well known for its delicious honey), fish and rice and some fruit like orange or banana. You will effortlessly practise the eco-lifestyle that you usually just read so much in all heath magazines. Apart for that believe me: when you get back home, you will appreciate the variety of options you have.
10. Travel with the one you love…
And discover the true meaning of intimacy. Being together 24/7, squeezed in a tiny tent or being exposed to several challenging circumstances, is a test that not every couple can pass. It sounds like an easy task but it’s not. When both of you are taken out of your comfort zone it’s easy to turn into fighting mode full of miscommunication and misunderstandings. However, the truth is that at the end of a day you have nowhere to escape and a compromise is essential. A good theraphy for any couple.
We traveled with an amazing Socotra Eco Tours and had a great time with them. Most of the time we spent with our driver (Marwan) and the tour guide (Adham) — they both took an excellent care of us by preparing an accommodation (pitching the tent), feeding us with a delicious home-made food and patiently bearing with all our mood swings and inner relationship dramas. Both me and A. we are very independent people who don’t usually take a tour guide sightseeing into consideration. No matter if traveling solo or as a couple, we like organising things for ourselves. We are like two birds who enjoy freedom and options. That’s why I would like to say a big thank you to the organisers of our trip, we were very pleased how we were treated and damn, it is not easy to please us. I will be always grateful to you as you turned our trip into a truly unique adventure. For anyone traveling to Socotra, Socotra Eco Tours is highly recommended!
Don’t miss a chance, go and explore the island when it’s still virgin and pure! Socotra belongs to Yemen, but has nothing to do with the mainland problems. It’s a safe destination to visit and trust me: it is on a bucket list of every serious traveller.