On the edge of the Arabian Peninsula, this island emanates other worldly vibes with its strange flora and fauna, which it is most popular for.
A type of tree here has a bark similar to that of a rhinoceros’ leg, while another stems out like a constellation, and another supports leaves in a strange fashion at the tip of its knobbly branches. With their tropical cum deserted cum coniferous appearances amalgamated into one, these trees are rather uncanny for this world. Little wonder then, the land they are at has come to be dubbed as “the most alien looking place on Earth”.
The archipelago of Socotra, resting on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula, has come to be known for its topography that is unlike any other place on the planet. Perhaps the only calm territory in the otherwise war impacted Yemen, this island seems like a fragment of an animated movie, which has dinosaurs crossing its land.
Socotra is a place reflective of the topography of millions of years ago, giving rare glimpses of what once was. Separated from mainland Yemen by about 200 miles, the island is known for its rare biodiversity, which comprises of its unearthly looking plants and other land life. The unique flora is actually among the ten most endangered in the world, making the site of universal importance for its biodiversity. It is home to around 800 rare species of flora and fauna, around a third of which are found nowhere else on the planet. The landscape is arid, partly jungle and partly desert, supporting the lives of about 50,000 people and entertaining only a handful of tourists, who are driven here by curiosity. Although this secluded place saw the opening of an airport in 1999, it continues to remain an offbeat route as people are advised not to travel there due to the civil war on the Yemen mainland, making it truly a ‘lost island’. With its green inhabitants a.k.a the trees named as the Dragon’s Blood, Desert Rose, Sabi Star, the place is all the more dramatic.
And befriending the trees are..
Other than its endemic trees, what makes this island unique is the fact that bats are the only native mammals present here. Socotra is known to be the home of some unusual species of birds too, such as the Socotra starling, Socotra sunbird, and Socotra grosbeak, which aren’t found anywhere else on Earth. But that’s not it to the eeriness of the place.
The ruins of a city dating back to the second century was discovered by a Russian archaeological team in 2010.
Some also believe the island to be the location of the original Garden of Eden, as it lies on the edge of Yemen’s Gulf of Aden, which many link with the ancient Sumerian tales of a paradise called Dilmun.
Rather harsh in its environment, also because of climate change, the island is a UNESCO world heritage site. While the trees and plants here, which are now about 20 million years in age, have evolved to suit its hostile climate, the place can be challenging for most people and only the local inhabitants know a way of life here. Socotra continues to be one of the most remote places on Earth.