Socotra Island, Yemen. Part I
Virtual travel with AirPano is a chance to visit the most extraordinary and exotic places of the world. Welcome to the Socotra archipelago - four islands and two rocky islets in the Indian Ocean that geographically are closer to the Somali coast but are, in fact, a part of Yemen.
The origin of its name is uncertain. Most researchers hold that "Socotra" comes from the Sanskrit dvipa-sukhadhara, "island abode of bliss." Another hypothesis says that the name derives from two Arabic words: "Al-Souq" (market) and "Qatra" (drop), because in the ancient times the place was famous for frankincense, myrrh raisin and dragon's blood.
It is one of the world's most isolated archipelagos, and its isolation has preserved its nature almost intact. Thanks to the diversity of plants and high levels of endemism of flora and fauna, Socotra has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to 825 plant species, 37% of which are found nowhere else.
The archipelago's marine life offers 253 species of reef-building corals, 730 species of fish and 300 species of crab, lobster and shrimp. 95% of land snails are also endemic. Besides, Socotra is a paradise for birds, too: it is home to 192 species. There are almost no mammals on the islands, while 90% of the native reptile species are unique.
The archipelago is known for the Detwah Lagoon: a picturesque place on the coast where you can also stay at a campsite. Sand dunes of Archer, in the north-east of Socotra, with a freshwater stream flowing from a cave between them, is also one of the most famous sites on the main island. Not far from them is Cape Di Hamri with a marine reserve.
Socotra's most beautiful canyon Wadi Dirhur is found in the centre of the island; the nearby Firhmin Forest on the Dixam plateau is home to incredible dragon blood trees. Their bizarre shape makes the landscape look like another planet!
On the west of the island, in Shuab bay, there is a famous beach: the waters here offer a variety of fish species, and it attracts snorkelling lovers.
What we have seen are only some of the natural landmarks of the far-off and intriguing Socotra archipelago. We hope the AirPano tour has let you feel the charm of this extraordinary place!
Photos Ádám Plézer
29 December 2023