Wednesday, August 13, 2014

World's Wonder Island - Socotra

Socotra (Arabic), also spelled Soqotra, is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean. The name Socotra is derived from a Sanskrit name, meaning "The Island of Bliss"... Is it the beaches? The isolation and quiet? or the strange and crazy botanical allure?

It is one of those “lost world” islands (separated from the world six million years ago) where intrepid travelers - particularly those seeking exotic nature and wildlife in a remote tropical setting - can go days on end without rubbing shoulders with that less -than-endangered species…tourists.

Known for decades as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, it’s the world’s tenth richest island for endemic plant species.
The largest isolated island, in the Middle East is about 95% of the landmass of the archipelago.

The climate is harsh, hot and dry, and yet - the most amazing plant life thrives there. It lies 250 km from Somalia ,some 240 kilometres (150 mi) east of the Horn of Africa 340 kilometres from mainland Yemen and 380 kilometres (240 mi) south of the Arabian Peninsula is home to a panoply of strange plants and animals uniquely adapted to the hot, harsh, windswept island.

Situated in the Indian Ocean and, the wide sandy beaches rise to limestone plateaus full of caves (some 7 kilometers in length) and mountains up to 1525 meters high.
The island is very isolated and a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. It has been described as "the most alien-looking place on Earth". The island measures 132 kilometres (82 mi) in length and 49.7 kilometres (30.9 mi) in width. Socotra is part of Yemen. It had long been a part of the 'Adan Governorate. In 2004, it became attached to the Hadhramaut Governorate, which is much closer to the island than 'Adan (although the nearest governorate is Al Mahrah).

Meanwhile the landscape is one of contrasts, for example, it has isolated nature preserves with dazzling wildlife (including 900 species of plants, and the famous Dragon’s Blood Tree “dracaena cinnabara” and the some of rarest birds that exist nowhere else in the world), and picturesque sandy beaches.
Imagine waking up on the Socotra Island and taking a good look around you (let's say your buddies pulled a prank on you and delivered you there, and lets also assume that you don't have any hangover from abuse of any substances). After a yelp of disbelief, you'd be inclined to think you were transported to another planet - or traveled to another era of Earth's history.

The second would be closer to the truth for this island, which is part of a group of 4 islands, has been geographically isolated from mainland Africa for the last 6 or 7 million years. Like the Galapagos Islands, this island is teeming with 700 extremely rare species of flora and fauna, a full 1/3 of which are endemic, i.e. found nowhere else on Earth.