Some places on earth contain so much natural, untouched beauty that you simply must see it to believe it. Socotra is one such place. Brimming with wondrous and incredible biodiversity, it is home to some truly unique flora and fauna. In fact, 37% of the plant species living there can not be found anywhere else in the world.
Ninety percent of the reptile species found there are also endemic, as are 95% of its land snail species. Due to its rare wildlife and plant life, the archipelago has been designated both a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site and a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve.
The Socotra archipelago consists of four islands between the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the largest of which is Socotra Island. Though located closer to Somalia, off the tip of the Horn of Africa, the islands are actually a part of Yemen. At present, there are only two ways to fly there. Yemenia Airways offers flights departing from Cairo and Air Arabia offers flights from Abu Dhabi.
Socotra is a unique and interesting destination for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience; those who enjoy nature and would like to discover a diverse and varied terrain with much to offer. These stunning natural attractions are some of the best places to visit in Socotra.
The Diksam Plateau
This sprawling plateau is the place to go if you want to see the distinctive dragon blood trees Socotra is known for. Named for their dark red sap, they are one of Socotra’s endemic tree species. They are also endangered. Due to their unique appearance, they are commonly referred to as “alien trees.” The Diksam Plateau is where you’ll find the Fermahin Forest. Here, the dragon blood trees are more densely concentrated than anywhere else on the island. You may also come across groups of nomads known as Bedouins with their herds of sheep, goats, or cattle.
Dropping down 700 meters from the edge of the Diksam Plateau is Wadi Dihur. This hidden gem is a paradise for nature lovers and an ideal spot to camp or just spend a day being at one with yourself. Quiet and calm, this limestone canyon is a great place to relax, reflect, and get away from it all. In Wadi Dihur, you’ll find palms and dragon blood trees, as well as a series of small lakes formed by the flowing river. The water is clean and perfect for swimming. Many types of birds reside here also.
Dihamri Marine Protected Area
If you fancy snorkeling or diving, head to the Dihamri Marine Protected Area, where nearly 80 types of corals support a plethora of sea life. Under the water, you’ll see some most magical sights as schools of hundreds of fish swim all around you. You may see lionfish, angelfish, pufferfish, surgeonfish, eels, conch, parrotfish, or grouper, just to name a few.
Touted as Socotra’s most beautiful beach as well as one of the most magnificent in the world, Shouab Beach has crystal blue water, white sand, and a mountain perfect for hiking. It can only be accessed via boat. While there, you might even see some of the dolphins that inhabit the area.
Zahek Sand Dunes
The expansive Zahek Sand Dunes are a remarkable sight to behold. Gazing out over the dunes, one feels as if they are looking into an endless ocean of white sand. It’s almost otherworldly witnessing the real-time artistry of the wind continuously drawing perfect ripples in the sand. Trek up towering mountains of sand for an optimal view of the pristine beauty all around you. At sunset, the views become even more surreal.