Where The Wild Things Grow: Socotra’s Firhmin Forest
Updated July 2021, Where The Wild Things Grow: Socotra’s Firhmin Forest was originally published in August 2020
Socotra Island’s Firhmin Forest is the home to the highest concentration of the endemic Dragon Blood Trees on the island, and therefore, the world. Sat across Wadi Dihur from the Dixsam Plateau your first views of the Firhmin Forest will be panned our and from afar.
Planning a trip? Check out my Socotra Travel Guide
Alternatively, you can set up a trip with Inertia Network who I have worked with to co-lead several group trips. With a lot of efforts and arrangements, I’m excited to be offering small group trips to Socotra Island in fall 2021 and early 2022 with Inertia Network.
The first departure will include visits to the highlights of Socotra plus a camel trekking trip through the Haggier Mountains. The second departure will take us to explore the outlying islands of the Socotra Archipelago of Abd al Kuri, Samha, and Darsa, as well as a trek across the Haggiers and Noged Plateau back on the main island of Socotra. The second departure offers an option 5 day Mainland Yemen Expedition add-on.
Hiking To Firhmin Forest
Getting From Dixsam Plateau Into Wadi Dirhur
Sometimes the Firhmin Forest is accessible by car, sometimes it’s not. In 2019 when I was able to return to the island the track leading down into Wadi Dirhur was in such poor shape due to ravaging storms that we had to begin the trek near the village of Shibakhan down into Wadi Dirhur and then back up the other side to reach Firhmin.
In 2020 it was possible to drive nearly the entire way down and back up the other side toward the forest. A winding track crosses a section of the Dixsam Plateau and then plunged down, twisting and turning to reach the bottom of Wadi Dirhur.
You’ll pass dragon blood tree after dragon blood tree on your way down, interspersed with bottle trees on the way. If you don’t hike to the bottom of the canyon you’ll want to afford plenty of time to stop for photos on the way down.
Swimming In The Wadi Dirhur Pools
When you reach the bottom of Wadi Dirhur there is a great spot just on the other side shaded under date palms to rest, have a snack, or break for lunch.
If you continue walking along the wadi to the southeast (about 30 minutes) you’ll reach pools great for swimming at an intersection of Wadi Dirhur with another wadi that runs in a northeast-southwest direction. Note that the pools may have a thick green algae in them, so you may want to look for a clearer one, or settle for the fact you’ll be green and slimy afterward.
Continuing Up To Firhmin Forest
Follow the main tracks across the wadi from the Dixsam Plateau that continue up to Firhmin Forest. In February 2019 we were able to take the Landcruisers up a large portion of the way, ending at a lower stone home. If you drive and don’t walk this section you’ll again want to leave time for plenty of stops as the terrain is littered with bottle trees on the way up.
From that first stone home, you’ll continue on foot on a stony track that will eventually pass the home Nur, a local Bedouin man who calls the Firhmin Forest home and rises goats up here. Only he and his wife live in the home now, but the two raised 10 children here over the years who mostly all live down in Hadiboh now.
Every time I’ve met Nur he’s invited us in for chai, sometimes even a meal, and has accompanied us several times into Firhmin.
Meandering Through The Firhmin Forest
As you continue up past Nur’s home the dragon blood trees will become more numerous and denser, it almost feels like you’re walking through a scene of a sci-fi movie.
Check out this post from my first 10 day trip to Socotra
Due to storms that have ravaged the island in the last several years, you will see quite a few downed trees. Many of the larger trees you’ll see are hundreds of years old as they are a slow-growing monocot. Sad as it is to see these sometimes ancient trees fallen down, it is interesting to see the broken branches of the dead trees as they are hollow with a fibrous matrix inside.
Don’t forget to keep looking down low as you meander through the woods, you’ll find plenty of bottle trees, aloe veras, and other succulents along the paths. Eventually, you’ll likely reach a rocky raised outcrop in the forest (there are more than one) where you can take in the stunning panoramic views of dragon blood tree crowns’ blanketing the wide rolling plateau you’re on.
From here, if visiting just as a day trip you’d continue back the way you came to return to wherever you’ll be camping for the night.
Others will continue on beyond the Firhmin Forest on a multi-day trek that will bend through the Haggier Mountains.
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