Socotra: an otherworldly island
Socotra is an island in the middle of the Arabian Sea, surrounded by Yemen and Somalia. The name comes from Sanskrit and means ‘Blessed island’. That name pretty much covers the meaning. Special, unique nature, a pleasant climate and great, friendly people. The unique character is evident from the figures on flora and fauna, 70% only occurs on Socotra. Few places in the world are as special as Socotra. There are also almost no tourists. A pity? Perhaps. But it does give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the peace and quiet island of the Arabian Ocean. Join us and see dragon blood trees, dolphins and beautiful pristine white beaches!
Part of: Yemen
Surface area: 652,864 km²
Language: Arabic, Soqotri
Neighbouring countries: Yemen (mainland) and Somalia (both 300 km away)
Dragon blood trees
For many travellers, this is the highlight of a trip to Socotra. The dragon blood trees are the most characteristic natural phenomena of Socotra. Biologically, they are related to the asparagus. What immediately stands out is the umbrella-like shape of the tree. The sap of the tree turns red when it comes into contact with air. That is why the tree has been given the name ‘dragon blood tree’ or ‘dragon tree’. The trees can grow very old, up to several thousands of years. The Diksam Plateau is the best known place to behold the trees.
Homhil National Park
One of the most beautiful parks on the island is the Homhil National Park. Here you walk between the dragon blood trees and bottle trees while occasionally an Egyptian Vulture flies over. Between the mountains you eventually reach the end of the National Park. Here you will find a so-called infinity pool, where you have a view from high in the hills towards the Northeast of the island. A special place where you can float and enjoy for hours.
The sand dunes of Zahek & Hayf
It seems like you are suddenly in the middle of the Sahara. If you climb the sand dunes of Zahek and Hayf, you don’t feel like you’re still on an island. It is a surreal area with bright white sand and high sand dunes that you can wander through. A visit to this must not be missed during your trip to Socotra.
From the town of Qalansiya you can go by fishing boat to the beach of Shuaab. There are no roads to the beach unless you want to walk for a few days. On the way you will encounter dolphins who enjoy swimming along. When you arrive at the beach you soon run into the local shepherd, who ensures that his cattle can graze nearby. For the rest you will not meet anyone on this beautiful white sand with deep blue sea. Welcome to paradise.
The name Socotra comes from Sanskrit and means ‘blissful island’. Socotra officially consists of a number of islands; Socotra, Darsa, Samha and Kilmia. Socotra is by far the largest island and almost all inhabitants live here. The island has an interesting and turbulent history. The island was known to Greek navigators as Dioskouridou.
After ancient times, the country was successively occupied by Arabs, Portuguese and British. The British worked with Yemeni sultans and remained in power until 1967.
In 1967 the island became part of South Yemen. In 1990 Yemen and South Yemen merged and Socotra became part of Yemen. You can still see the South Yemeni flag when you wander around the island. The Yemeni Civil War broke out in 2015. Although Socotra is part of the country, the island is spared in the war. It is located too far from the mainland leaving it completely alone.