Day 2: From Adho Demalah to Da’arho village.
Slight, bitingly cold drops of rain marked the start of our second day in the stunning but hostile Hagghier range. The wind continued to howl, and everyone was anxious to get out of the fog and keep dry. We never made it up to Socotra’s tallest peak, and we have absolutely no regrets for rushing down towards more hospitable grounds.
Our sure-footed camel had bravely climbed in darkness the night before, and this morning it forged ahead with great purpose, undoubtedly the most eager in the group to retreat from the cold. Kelvin and I stumbled amid slippery rocks, struggling to keep up behind the camel, the equally agile camel handler, and our youthful guide, Bassam. There were several narrow passages that cut across shrubs, and we quickly discovered that these were magnets for fresh camel faeces. We launched into a strange dance of limbo each time we passed surrounding foliage, but this was, unfortunately, not always effective.
Several hours later, we made it to the valley nestled within the mountain range and stopped at a scenic wadi for lunch – a wonderful opportunity to soak grumpy feet and wash off most of the camel poop we had inadvertently collected. While cooking, we were surveyed by watchful Egyptian Vultures and Somali Starlings, the former widely regarded as the island’s waste management system.
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking through flat and mind-numbing terrain, eventually bringing us to the village of Da’arho. We had arrived at the foot of Fermhin, Socotra’s ancient forest of Dragon’s Blood Trees. As we looked up from camp, their oddly shaped crowns peeked at us from above. We had already seen plenty so far, but nothing quite like the density that Fermhin promised. The next morning was going to be one hell of a climb.