Socotra is a Yemen-owned island located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia. It is one of the most isolated islands of continental (non-volcanic) origin. Many millions of years ago, it broke away from the mainland, and this event preserved the unique nature of the island.
Its flora and fauna turned out to be, as it were, “conserved” from any external influence. The island does not look like a fragment of the earth’s land but like a fragment of another planet. Everything seen there rarely resembles the usual terrestrial landscapes at all. This is some Jurassic Park.
Life on this island has developed in its unique way. Over time, it has developed into something unique and unforgettable. Climate features wild heat, drought, seasonal hurricane monsoons all summer, and warm and humid in winter. All this, together with the unique climatic conditions in the mountainous regions, helped form, as a result, the island’s unique flora and fauna.
It is not for nothing that Socotra Island is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. These kilometre-long dunes on the shores of the azure Indian Ocean, fugu, and bottle trees blooming like sakura – it looks like a fairy tale come to life.
Socotra’s symbol is Dracaena Cinnabari (Dragon tree). This tree looks like a vast umbrella or a giant mushroom. If you cut off the bark from it, then a blood-red juice will begin to flow, which hardens quickly.
Since ancient times, residents have used this magical remedy for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Aboriginal people say that Dracaena Cinnabari juice can stop any bleeding. It helps a lot with painful and prolonged periods in women.
Local animals are very fond of eating young shoots of these plants. Therefore, it is tough to meet the young growth of the famous dragon tree. Most often, these are already mature trees several hundred years old. This plant is not only a symbol but also the main attraction and hallmark of this unusual island.
It is the dragon tree that gives the landscape of the mountainous terrain certain poetry and fabulousness. Everyone who has visited the island would certainly like to capture themselves against this magical alien background.
It is difficult to recall at least one case when human intervention would benefit nature and not vice versa. The property of intelligent bipeds is to spoil absolutely everything they touch. Socotra is fortunate that human influence is minimal here. Looking at this unearthly beauty, one can only rejoice that such a phenomenon as mass tourism does not threaten it. Otherwise, it would have killed the beautiful island.
The major threats to Socotra’s unique nature are alien species, climate change, and anthropogenic impact. Besides the latter, when goats eat young shoots of bottle trees and dragon trees, which harms the endemics of Socotra, the rest can be influenced.
Human intervention was stopped here on time. Now the excellent place is a nature reserve under the exceptional control of the authorities. Being here, it is difficult to resist the temptation to photograph each bush.
Life on Socotra
The island is home to about forty thousand people. Residents have their language. Even though the aborigines do not have a written language, local folklore is affluent in poetry and prose. Socotra belongs to the Semitic group of languages. Unfortunately, the language of the islanders is gradually dying out, giving way to Arabic.
You can see unusual drawings on the rocks of the island. What kind of drawings they are, what they mean, and where they came from – no one knows. No research has been done on this. The most exciting thing is that they can be viewed only when part of the water evaporates and becomes open to the eye.
Tourists should keep in mind that there are practically no hotels on Socotra. In those that are available, someone is unlikely to want to stop. Travelers take tents with them. You can get into this fairy tale only by plane through the capital of Yemen, Sana’a.
The trip must be made through a local travel agency. This does not interfere at all but even helps a lot. After all, they will take you directly to all the most iconic places, and there you can already explore the area as you please.
There are stunningly beautiful mountains here. White dunes frame an endless azure horizon.
Mysterious caves can give a tired traveller romance and coolness. And what are the stars! I am immediately drawn to talk about the incomprehensibility of the Universe and the power of the Creator. Socotra’s story may not bring exploratory ecstasy, but incredible amounts of indescribable emotions are a must. This is a fairy tale revived or a lost paradise, whichever you prefer.