Travel to the Island of Socotra and Yemen – Episode 403

categories: asia travel, middle east travel

Hear about travel to the Island of Socotra and Yemen as the Amateur Traveler talks to Earl from about a visit to this isolated island best known for its production of frankincense.

The island is quite isolated and a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. With trees like the umbrella-shaped dragon’s blood tree, it has been described as the most alien-looking place on Earth.

Earl traveled with Anil from with this trip. Even experienced travelers as Anil and Earl sometimes travel to destinations like Yemen where they want someone to watch their back. The mainland of Yemen definitely has safety issues now but Earl says “if it was safe it would be one of the most popular travel destinations”. On the other hand, Socotra is a safe destination, safer still with new direct flights coming soon from UAE or Milan.

“Socotra is a very unique destination and I absolutely think more people should go. Ignore the fact that it is attached to Yemen and definitely make your way there.”

Starting with the herd of goats walking around inside the airport, Earl found the island to be unusual. It has some of the largest sand dunes in the world, beautiful white sand dunes come down from the mountain to the beautiful turquoise water of the Arabian Sea.

“I have heard people who have been to Socotra describe it as the Galapagos on steroids. It has beautiful dragon’s blood trees that look like they came out of Alice and Wonderland.”

You can’t get anywhere on your own. There is no public transportation except hitchhiking. You need to hire a driver to see the island.

Earl also describes their visit to the mainline of Yemen. Earl had one of the most unusual answers for one thing that makes him laugh and say only in Yemen, but you will have to listen to the end of the episode to hear what that was.

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

Show Notes

Wandering Earl
Yemen Tourism
Socotra Holidays
Eternal Yemen
Dragon Blood Tree
Qalansiya, Socotra Island


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Jeff wrote on Travel to Vieques, Puerto Rico – Episode 401

Hi Chris,

I am an Emergency Physician from Northern New England not unfamiliar with travel in the Caribbean and I encountered a problem in Vieques that Ira didn’t discuss. The locals had warned me to not eat a fish larger than my plate, but in restaurants you really have no control over this. Eating out in Vieques I had the snapper. I even complimented the chef on how good it was. Fortunately my wife and son chose other dishes. That night I had severe vomiting and diarrhea but didn’t think I was dehydrated as my pulse was slow. The GI symptoms abated by the morning but I thought it odd that when I walked across the floor my feet were burning. Likewise when I washed my hands they would burn. On discussing this with the proprietor of our apartment he told me I had Ciguatera poisoning, something I had not seen where I work for some reason. I spoke to one of the consultants at our local tertiary care facility who told me that the neurotoxin effects would last for weeks to months and that I should avoid reef fish as the next exposure would be worse since the toxin is fat soluble and stays in your adipose tissue. I didn’t realize that I would get a first hand medical experience in Vieques and just want to pass this on to you and your listeners as it is still a real concern in the islands. The toxin can affect your gait and your heart if repeatedly ingested.


Hi Chris,

I just wanted to tell you how much I love your podcast. I drive back and forth from Toronto to Windsor quite frequently and have really enjoyed listening to both recent and older episodes throughout my drive.

I especially liked the 2007 episode on Kingston, ON, having lived there for a few years for school. I downloaded the episode expecting that it would be a bit out of date, but it really held up! Your guest covered absolutely everything that I would recommend for visitors to the city.

Anyway, thank you for all your hard work on this podcast. You’ve literally provided me with hours and hours of entertainment, as well as a lot of inspiration for my future travels.



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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

3 Responses to “Travel to the Island of Socotra and Yemen – Episode 403”

Travel with Pedro


I always wanted to go to Yemen, it’s a real pity that it’s not a very safe place for tourists… Socotra sounds like an amazing place, it seems to be to Yemen what Kurdistan is for Iraq, in terms of attractions and safety.

Great interview, by the way!

Epic Curiousity


Socotra is an incredible place and the biodiversity and uniqueness of life there is incredible. It’s also very vulnerable to the developments of tourism, so anyone traveling there needs to be acutely aware of the impact they could have. Love the exposure that Socotra is getting, but, anyone considering going there does need to keep the preservation of that natural space in mind.

Jonny Jenkins


Socotra… This place is certainly managing to move its way up my list fairly quickly. The high rate of endemic species on the island as well as its incredible location should make it list-worthy for any Eco-tourist and/or nature lover… thanks for doing this piece, it’s great to see Socotra getting a bit of recognition.

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