Discover the Mysterious and Absolutely Beautiful Socotra Island

  • GPS location: 12° -31' -25.2"N 53° -49' -5.48"E
  • Best time to travel : October to May
  • Spoken language : Soqotri
Map

It’s time to roll your sleeves up, and to take a deep dive as you explore Socotra Island. Considered one of the world’s best kept secrets, Socotra Island lies in the middle of the Indian Ocean, hidden from the rest of civilization. The mysteries within this landmass are especially unique. As you feast your eyes upon the myriad flora and fauna by the likes of which you’ve never seen, you will find yourself losing count of all the endemic species you come across. You are far from home, but you feel awake. You’re weary from your travels, yes, but the raw beauty of the nature surrounding you will replenish you as you explore a place that appears to have never been touched by another human. You’ve discovered your own Garden of Eden, and the unspoiled beauty doesn’t seem real, but rather like a beautifully lit lucid dream.

Endemic Biodiversity

There’s no mystery as to why Socotra is often referred to as the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.” Hundreds of flora and fauna are endemic to the island, and you will only be able to see them here. Unique species of reptiles, birds, spiders, and scorpions alike have made their home on this island, and there are no known duplicates anywhere else in the world. Because of the delicate ecosystem, it is encouraged to travel with as light of a footprint as possible. While tourism is on the rise, education of the ecosystem may not catch up as quickly with the increasing number of travelers. As a tourist, it is your responsibility to help keep Socotra as untouched as it needs to be to maintain balance.

Socotra Island photographed by Kristina Makeeva
Socotra Island photographed by Kristina Makeeva

The Shade of Dragon’s Blood

Known for its crimson sap, the Dragon’s Blood tree can only be found in Socotra, Yemen. Boasting tall branches that resemble an inverted umbrella high up above the roots, the Dragon’s Blood tree provides shade from its imposing height. The tallest of the elder evergreens are as old as 800 years. The tree’s design of survival inspires awe as it majestically overlooks the gorge below. Its blood colored sap has been once thought to have healing properties. While mostly used for digestive issues, Dragon’s Blood sap has also been used for fractures, wounds, inflammation, rheumatism, blood circulation dysfunctions, and cancer. Folk medicine aside, the sap has been used as a varnish for musical instruments. It may be hard to believe, but you may have heard music that was from an instrument that was treated by this healing tree.

Socotra Island photographed by Daniel Kordan
Socotra Island photographed by Daniel Kordan

Weary upon arrival

The Airways have been consistently open for some time now, but with limited access. While some travelers may have direct contacts with Socotra Island, it is recommended that you find a touring company to help facilitate the visa process. While tourism has been beneficial for the economy, it is still not a massive industry. As of now, the flights are traveling in and out of Cairo on Wednesdays, so be prepared to stay in Socotra for a week. You will also need to book your flight in person, in Cairo. The extra steps might seem a bit egregious, but your stay on Socotra will be worth the effort.

Socotra Island photographed by Daniel Kordan
Socotra Island photographed by Daniel Kordan

Off the beaten path

While some trails are not worth trekking, Socotra Island is worth the trip. There are interim steps to take, and paperwork to acquire, but the destination is one of a kind. As we all know, the best rewards require sacrifice, and what better reward to have than your own private island inhabited by such biodiverse mystery?

Socotra Island photographed by Daniel Kordan
Socotra Island photographed by Daniel Kordan

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