Infos needed from backpackers only
Replies: 18 - Last Post: May 4, 2013 10:00 PM Last Post By: hauteboy0
Dec 8, 2012 8:01 AM
Infos needed from backpackers onlyHi,
Can any person who has backpacked Yemen in recent times make it back to me ?
I'm not in need on infos related to travel agents and so on.
Is it a good backpacking destination ?
Is it feasible to move around by public transport and reach the places it's worth looking at ?
Can one sort out all various documents on his own (travel permits for example) ?
Which overland border is it ok to go out from ?
Dec 8, 2012 8:43 PM
1Firstly, you cannot get a visa without using a travel agent. Independent visas are virtually non-existant. And the tour agencies will not let you use them as a visa service, You MUST do at least one tour with them.
If you are able to convince them to stay longer than the tour (easy to do) then it is theoretically possible to travel independently. But the next problem is the tourist police. You MUST have a permit to travel anywhere overland. The tourist police are very unlikely to give you permission to travel anywhere not serviced by bus. They will not let you take a shared taxi. This means you are several limited as to where you can go. Going off the permitted path could result in arrest.
As for the border, you can cross to Oman, if you have the visa in advance. The problem is, to get to the border, you will have to fly. The governates of Abyan, Shabwa and Marib are 100%, completely and totally off limits to foreigners who don't' work there. You cannot cross to Saudi, but since you'd never get a visa anyway, it's inconsequential.
Dec 9, 2012 5:41 AM
2Suppose I make it to Yemen on a 2 months work related visa but want to stay longer to backpack.
Can I get an extension with no travel agency involvement ?
Dec 9, 2012 8:48 AM
Dec 12, 2012 10:39 AM
You seem to have gone several times to socotra island ... is it easy to solo backpack on the island? I am speaking to a tour agency currently, they seem to be a tad expensive so considering spending couple of days with them and perhaps sol-ing my last 2 days. Is this feasible or am I day dreaming?
Dec 12, 2012 1:01 PM
5try to find someone who akt like a taxi and bring you to the camping places and pick you up again days later (like from the nice beaches in qalansiah and amaq. there is official camping where you can get food too) but travelling around as a backpacker ? maybe you are dreaming ;-) for several places you would need an agency. but doing half / half would be a great choise.
Dec 12, 2012 1:14 PM
6The problem is transport. There is no public transport (to speak of) so you need a car and driver. The agencies charge a ridiculous $75+ per day for a 4X4 and English speaking driver. But, unless you're going up to Homhill or into the Wadis, you don't need a 4X4. And frankly, you don't need an English speaker. I (and my friend) managed to hire a driver with some English and a simple car for places like Qalansiyah for $30.
But, Socotra is not a place for a backpacker budget.
Dec 12, 2012 8:05 PM
Dec 12, 2012 9:48 PM
8Ask around in Hadibo. The manager of the Taj Socotra Hotel helped us out with one guy, we randomly found another. Anyone and everyone will do it, if they have a car.
Dec 13, 2012 7:49 AM
9mucho thanks Joe
... one last question ... what currency to take to Yemen? Credit Card accepted on the island?
Dec 13, 2012 8:24 AM
Dec 13, 2012 2:02 PM
It is necessary to get a visa through the local tourist agency in Yemen and give you a full package.You can not travel around the island if you are a tourist you will travel on the island with the person who issued for you the visa for you.But if you are a resident can travel alone around the island.
Dec 14, 2012 2:28 AM
12Is it feasible to move around by public transport and reach the places it's worth looking at?
I should preface this by saying that this is not really advice as such, simply my experience/been told:
With permission from the tourist police, it's usually possible to travel from Sana'a to visit Hoddaidah, Ibb (& Jibla), Tai'z and Aden, stopping off anywhere enroute - via public transport. Al Raha bus company runs fairly cheap but extremely comfortable a/c coaches to all those destinations several times daily. Should the tourist police be issuing permits the day you pop in to see them, providing the name of the bus company + destination will be sufficient to get your papers (yes, the name and reg. of the driver, as asked for on the form, can just be left blank).
If you have a work visa even better as the tourist police will also give you permission to travel on the Dabaabs (dabaabs which run between towns not intercity ones and through checkpoints etc) i.e. if you want to visit Thulla departing from Bab Yemen etc.. Allow time for applying for this though, it's a hassle.
To be honest, I've never been sent back from anywhere with less with a valid work visa and letter of introduction from the organisation I work for. For the last two months I've stopped bothering with the tourist permission altogether because quite frankly it's often just a complete waste of time. I've crisscrossed this country over the last 3 months many times without once using a driver, been pulled over a handful of times and on each one of those occasions I have not had tourist police permission or anybody asking for it for that matter either.
So Joe, although your advice is usually very sound the fact that you say there is no public transport (to speak of) is quite misleading. It's more than possible.
The only account of anybody being turned around recently happened when my 'reckless colleague' was pulled off a bus from Aden to Mukhalla recently, but as that bus travels through Zinjibar it's completely understandable.
Which overland border is it ok to go out from ?
Assuming you fly between Aden and either Mukhalla or Sayun, the Omani crossing via Hawf is fairly straightforward and Omani visas are available at the border. It's a long drive but this has been done several times in the last month to my knowledge. Boats from Al-Makha also leave for Djibouti and this has been done recently too, pack something comfortable because it's a bumpy ride. Dabaabs from Tai'z leave for Al-Makha, 2-3 hours, daily (no permission needed).
FYI: For anyone else reading this, as of November, tourist visas are readily available next-day in Djibouti w/out a pre-arranged tour package/Socotra visit. I mention it because this fact is little covered in recent threads and yet very useful for independent and resourceful travellers.
Good luck and happy travels
Dec 18, 2012 3:19 AM
13Thanks Pushkar Babu.
I'll probably PM you when in Sanaa for further info.
I'm reading books about people who backpacked in recent times and it must therefore be possible.
Jan 13, 2013 2:40 PM
I want to say that its not anymore possible to backpack Yemen. There is police and security forces everywhere now in the city and going outside the city will not be accepted by them unless you travel with a travelorganization. The threat is real, capital city Sana'a safety deteriorated in the last years, there is bombs and arms found on a daily basis (read the news!) that are being smuggled into the city and over 70 policeofficers have been assassinated by gangs last year, more and more in Sana'a. In december, 3 foreigners living in the city were kidnapped. And these days if you end up getting kidnapped, they might transfer you to Al Qaida. Apparantly they pay good money to buy westerners from tribes, one European (Swiss I think) is held captive for over a year now. It's not the good old "be a guest of the tribe and they butcher a goat for you" kind of kidnapping anymore.
One more thing: Prices in Yemen went up alot since my last visit!!!
I fear this beautiful country will start to become like Somalia/Mogadishu if the trend continues. I have been to Yemen two times, in 2007 and in 2012. The first time I got a visa at the airport and the last time I went with Arabian Voyages Travels who are pretty professional in organizing trips for backpackers and individuals. They don't do large groups or send you to places like Hadaramaut or Mukallah because the situation there is even worse. You will find some other organizations that are happy to send you to Hadaramaut, but if you get such an offer, you should think twice! Just read the news and you know what I am talking about.
About my trip: it was 5 days around Sanaa and the Old city, I had the freedom to explore villages by myself and the touragency provides the driver, meals, paperworks. For Yemen it's the best thing that comes close to backpacking. No walking behind a guide for hours, nothing like that. But you save alot of time and effort of arranging documents and dealing with the police checkpoints outside the city. Their agents were extremely friendly and helpful and serviced me throughout the whole stay. It's advisable if you only have a few days or a week in the country, you don't want to waste hours and hours trying to fix things yourself.
Also, when I was there I have not felt insecure a single moment with the friendly Yemeni people that I met.
The hotel I took was Arabian Felix, it's budget, but because of the noisy road next to it (the hotel is on the very edge of the old city!) I changed to hotel Dawood, it costs USD $35 for a basic single room. One of the agents of Arabian Voyage took me to hotel Burj al Salaam just to see the rooftop and my... I then regret not taking this hotel. The view is the best, totally superb but it comes with a price (two times the price of Dawood) but also much better restaurant.. ON THE ROOFTOP!
Concluding: backpacking everything by yourself is not possible, not safe. But you can still go to Yemen! I went this time because the news about this country is getting worse by the month and I fear it might not be possible to visit it anymore next year. If you want to visit Yemen, its better to not waste any time!!
(4 star Hotel)
From US$212.98 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$233.75 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$13.94 per night