Socotra Island: Galapagos of the Arabian Sea



If you like to travel alien places on the planet, then the Socotra Island is one of them. This one is so remote, untouched, and lonely that it will captivate your mind and eyes in no time. This is the perfect holiday destination if you are no more wishing to spend a vacation on the hustling metropolitan streets, but desire to spend amidst a secluded or strangely diverse location. Yes, one of the main attractions on the Socotra Island is its strange looking flora and fauna that are rare, but still easy to spot and spectacular. If you a wildlife lover, then spotting thousands of such botanicals, marine creatures, and sea birds that the nature has made for you to take away your loneliness is just a matchless experience.

The Socotra Island is a petite archipelago of four islets accessible easily by air from Yemen. Nestled in the Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa shore, the island due to its bizarre and splendid vegetation is today a world’s natural heritage. However, it is also among the top 10 endangered islands on the planet because of its geographic location as well as evolutionary history. Alas! Its natural charm as well as its wonderful wildlife has made it to be dubbed as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’.

Flora and Fauna attractions

Now, tourists have started coming here just for the island’s bird life and botanical gems. Out of the total plant species, one-third of them are truly native to the island meaning they cannot be seen anywhere else. Among them, one of the most bizarre looking is the Dragons Blood Tree whose red sap is used as medicine, varnish, and paint. Some more plant attractions here are cucumber tree appearing as a mammoth cucumber, desert roses, big succulent tree, and the rare Socotran pomegranate. Especially, the Dragon Blood tree looks like big green mushrooms, while the Desert Rose looks as if it is stemming from the body of ginger.

It is very hard to believe that on such a large island, bat is only native inhabitant; however, other species also thrive here as well. Some of the rare animal species that are seen only here are Starling, Bunting, Dragon Flies, Warbler, Cormorant, Sunbird, and Cisticola.

Other attractions

Do explore the aqua lagoon at Qalansiya, the shimmering white dunes at Ras Momi, and alpine meadows of the Haggier Mountains making the Socotra Island a territory of incredible contrasts. Some more close by highlights are Halah Cave, Dixam, Nawjad, and Ar’ar. For me, this is quite a spiritual place because of its serenity as well as cool peaceful vibes. You can also think of snorkeling and scuba diving at any of its beaches from October to May. Do so at site of ‘Sunrise’ wrack, but with utmost planning and additional security measures.

The east and the west of Socotra Island are car-accessible, but I recommend mixing it with a sea voyage. The best one would be to reach the west Shuab Bay by first driving until Qalansiyah, halting for an evening at the splendid Detwah Lagoon, and then taking a boat in the next day morning to Shuab Cape. I am stressing on sea journey as you will get a chance to explore giant cliffs and spot Socotran gannets, sea birds, dolphins, and red-billed tropic birds.

Hiking the Haggeher Mountains should not be missed here at all. This one is a 3-4 day ascent and you get a unique chance to discover the mountain ridges, stunning canyons like Shitahen, hilly pastures, and a climb on the exposed rocks. Just live in a tent to be dazzled by the sight of the beautiful moon emerging from the peaks as well as the sun rising from the same. A majority of the trekking routes need proper logistic activities and camel company for carrying personal items.

Driving for more than 60% of the route across the island’s north coast will take you to the weird forests of desert roses as well as frankincense trees. DO so with your guide and even spot the dragon blood trees, endemic flora, and dwarf bottle-shaped trees.

Best time

November to May.

Accommodations

These are mostly in the Hadibo town:

  • Taj Socotra Hotel
  • Hafij Hotel
  • Summerland Hotel

Campsites are at Detwah, Aomak, and DiHamri with shower and toilet rooms.

If you like to travel alien places on the planet, then the Socotra Island is one of them. This one is so remote, untouched, and lonely that it will captivate your mind and eyes in no time. This is the perfect holiday destination if you are no more wishing to spend a vacation on the hustling metropolitan streets, but desire to spend amidst a secluded or strangely diverse location. Yes, one of the main attractions on the Socotra Island is its strange looking flora and fauna that are rare, but still easy to spot and spectacular. If you a wildlife lover, then spotting thousands of such botanicals, marine creatures, and sea birds that the nature has made for you to take away your loneliness is just a matchless experience.

The Socotra Island is a petite archipelago of four islets accessible easily by air from Yemen. Nestled in the Indian Ocean off the Horn of Africa shore, the island due to its bizarre and splendid vegetation is today a world’s natural heritage. However, it is also among the top 10 endangered islands on the planet because of its geographic location as well as evolutionary history. Alas! Its natural charm as well as its wonderful wildlife has made it to be dubbed as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’.

Flora and Fauna attractions

Now, tourists have started coming here just for the island’s bird life and botanical gems. Out of the total plant species, one-third of them are truly native to the island meaning they cannot be seen anywhere else. Among them, one of the most bizarre looking is the Dragons Blood Tree whose red sap is used as medicine, varnish, and paint. Some more plant attractions here are cucumber tree appearing as a mammoth cucumber, desert roses, big succulent tree, and the rare Socotran pomegranate. Especially, the Dragon Blood tree looks like big green mushrooms, while the Desert Rose looks as if it is stemming from the body of ginger.

It is very hard to believe that on such a large island, bat is only native inhabitant; however, other species also thrive here as well. Some of the rare animal species that are seen only here are Starling, Bunting, Dragon Flies, Warbler, Cormorant, Sunbird, and Cisticola.

Other attractions

Do explore the aqua lagoon at Qalansiya, the shimmering white dunes at Ras Momi, and alpine meadows of the Haggier Mountains making the Socotra Island a territory of incredible contrasts. Some more close by highlights are Halah Cave, Dixam, Nawjad, and Ar’ar. For me, this is quite a spiritual place because of its serenity as well as cool peaceful vibes. You can also think of snorkeling and scuba diving at any of its beaches from October to May. Do so at site of ‘Sunrise’ wrack, but with utmost planning and additional security measures.

The east and the west of Socotra Island are car-accessible, but I recommend mixing it with a sea voyage. The best one would be to reach the west Shuab Bay by first driving until Qalansiyah, halting for an evening at the splendid Detwah Lagoon, and then taking a boat in the next day morning to Shuab Cape. I am stressing on sea journey as you will get a chance to explore giant cliffs and spot Socotran gannets, sea birds, dolphins, and red-billed tropic birds.

Hiking the Haggeher Mountains should not be missed here at all. This one is a 3-4 day ascent and you get a unique chance to discover the mountain ridges, stunning canyons like Shitahen, hilly pastures, and a climb on the exposed rocks. Just live in a tent to be dazzled by the sight of the beautiful moon emerging from the peaks as well as the sun rising from the same. A majority of the trekking routes need proper logistic activities and camel company for carrying personal items.

Driving for more than 60% of the route across the island’s north coast will take you to the weird forests of desert roses as well as frankincense trees. DO so with your guide and even spot the dragon blood trees, endemic flora, and dwarf bottle-shaped trees.

Best time

November to May

Accommodations

These are mostly in the Hadibo town:

  • Taj Socotra Hotel
  • Hafij Hotel
  • Summerland Hotel

Campsites are at Detwah, Aomak, and DiHamri with shower and toilet rooms.

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