Socotra or سُقُطْرَى in Arabic, is an isolated group of four islands located next to the horn of Africa but being part of Yemen. It’s a very beautiful and unique place with more than 700 endemic species. Thanks to it’s biodiversity, it was declared Human Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2008.
The landscape is very unique as well, with sand dunes, mountains and a desert just a few hundred meters away from each other. Together with being still unspoiled by the tourism, makes it one of the most interesting places to visit in the Indian Ocean..
Socotra enjoys a semi-desert climate with an average temperature of 25°C and sporadic rains. The best time to visit it is between January and March, taking into account the bad weather isolated the island 4 months per year. Among its vegetation we can find a very rare tree, the Dracaena cinnabari, also called Dragon Blood Tree because of its red color resin.
In ancient times, very well known travellers like Marco Polo or Ibn Battuta got really impressed by it. It’s been also a usual pirate refugee even nowadays, since many Somali pirates use it for fuel supply.
Their inhabitants, the Socotri people, were defined by Marco Polo like this: “They are the most wise magicians and necromancers in the world. The know the winds and can change them when they feel like it. If a pirate robs in the island, they through a spell on him”. Nowadays they live out of cattle, fishing and growing date palms. Even so, there is a lot of poor people who lives mainly with the NGO or government help.
How to get to Socotra: There is an airport in Socotra and you can fly there from Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. But usually is not a safe place so we better recommend flying from the United Arab Emirates. Felix Airways flies directly to Socotra from Sharjah, a city easily reachable from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Where to stay in Socotra: There are a few hotels in the main town, quite decent ones. But we really recommend free camping and sleeping under the stars.
How to move around Socotra: It’s best to get a 4×4 car or someone to drive you around. There are a few local agencies that you can contact to schedule a private tour for you.
What to do in Socotra: Enjoy sun bathing on the beach, hiking in the mountains and watching a sunset in the desert, all in one single trip 😉
Credit: photos by Sara Janini