UNESCO-Protected Yemen: Ambitious Summit Attempt on Socotra in Pirate Heartland

This October 30th 2013, an intrepid team of Secret Compass adventurers will head to the Yemeni island of Socotra on a pioneering expedition to summit the island’s highest peak, Mount Hajhir.

Socotra, Yemen, September 12, 2013 --(PR.com)-- This October 30th 2013, an intrepid team of Secret Compass adventurers will head to the Yemeni island of Socotra on a pioneering expedition to summit the island’s highest peak, Mount Hajhir.

Xavier Aubut, assistant expedition leader, said, “Visitors often eschew Socotra due to the threat of terrorism in mainland Yemen, and for its location in the pirate-saturated waters off the Somali coast, near the Gulf of Aden.

“Secret Compass wants to change people’s perceptions of regions like this, showing that despite mainland Yemen’s security concerns, Socotra is a safe and welcoming destination. We hope that sensitive travel like ours will encourage others to go to Socotra, and that our contribution to its fledgling tourism economy will help safeguard the island’s UNESCO-protected assets for generations to come.”

Expedition leader Dave Luke said, “Our ambitious aim is to conduct an exploratory trek across the island – which lies off the southern coast of Yemen – and to summit its highest peak. We’ll also witness the pristine beaches, lagoons and indigenous flora and fauna that have earned Socotra its accolade as the weirdest island on earth.”

Aubut concluded, “Through its pioneering adventures and world-first expeditions, Secret Compass aims to change people’s perceptions of inhospitable, hard-to-access and post-conflict zones. Our expedition to this Yemeni island will help put the region back on the map for adventurous travellers.

Marketing manager Kerry O’Neill added, “Summiting Mount Hajhir will be physically challenging, and an extraordinary achievement. This is a true, Secret Compass-styled adventure in one of the world’s wildest, most alien-looking environments.”

Six things to know about Socotra:
1. The separation of Socotra
Windswept Socotra is the largest of four islands in the 250km-long Socotra archipelago. It’s 320km south of mainland Yemen in the northwest Indian Ocean. Once part of the prehistoric continent Gondwana, Socotra broke free 18m million years ago, providing an isolated safe-haven for its unique species to develop into their current alien-esque life forms. In addition to Arabic, the ancient, unwritten and pre-Islamic Socotri language was also preserved and is still widely spoken.
2. UNESCO status
In 2008, Socotra joined the UNESCO World Heritage Site protection list for its incredible biodiversity. This has helped it to earn the moniker of the Galápagos of the Indian Ocean.
3. Exceptionally rich biodiversity
37% of its plant species and 90% of its reptile species occur nowhere else on earth. It’s also home to 192 bird species (including indigenous starlings and cormorants), 253 species of reef-building corals, 730 types of coastal fish and 300 species of crab, lobster and shrimp.
4. Symbolic Dragon’s Blood trees
Socotra’s tenacious plants extract moisture from the low-lying mists that accumulate on nearby rocks. Over 100 indigenous species now flourish on the island, with 50 in the mountains alone. The inside-out-umbrella styled Dragon’s Blood tree (Dracaena Cinnabari) is the symbol of the island, with Frankincense and unusual Cucumber trees also proliferating.
5. Famed visitors
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were all swayed by Socotra’s allure. They came seeking the aromatic resin of the Frankincense tree, and the dark red sap of the Dragon’s Blood tree for their artistic palettes. The Queen of Sheba, Alexander the Great and Marco Polo were among those reported to have coveted Socotra’s riches.
6. Tourism and Secret Compass in Socotra
Despite mainland Yemen’s security concerns, Socotra has always remained a safe place to visit. Though vigilance should always be exercised, professional expeditions to Socotra are now offered by Secret Compass, with the first departure looming on October 30th 2013. Their ex-military expertise ensures the safety of its teams of explorers, allowing them to experience this most alien environment for themselves.

For information about Secret Compass’s upcoming or 2014 expeditions to Socotra, kindly contact marketing director Kerry O’Neill on Kerry@secretcompass.com or by calling 00 44 7815 896 533.

Visit our Socotra Expedition page (with image gallery)

Watch an inspirational two-minute film on Socotra
Secret Compass
Kerry O'Neill
+44 (0)7815896533