Welcome to Socotra

The Socotra archipelago lies at the brink of time. Far from the mainland, long time separated from Africa and Arabia, with hundreds of unique species that have not developed anywhere else in the world, the inland mountains decorated with ancient dragon blood trees. However, the distance of 380 km from southern coast of Yemen can be reached by plane in less than three hours nowadays.

Socotra, the island of endemism

Socotra is located in the Arabian Sea with the southern coast exposed to strong waves of the Indian Ocean. It is a continental island meaning that Socotra had separated from Arabia and Africa in prehistoric times and continued to develop as a small continent. This does not only refer to a diverse geology with granite mountains, limestone crystallic parts, elevated corals from the periods of higher sea and sandy dunes. Most of all Socotra’s long time isolation resulted in high numbers of endemic species of fauna and flora that are unique to the island and cannot be found anywhere else on the Earth. Socotra is a heaven for biologists since more than 300 endemic species have been recorded so far with the number of newly discovered endemics growing every year.

Unlike Yemeni mainland, Socotra stayed green thanks to monsoon. Regular rainy seasons don’t reach the continental parts of Arabia so Socotra is the only place where original old species have survived. First wave of extinction within large variety of Socotri habitats occurred during the original colonization of the island a couple of centuries back. The second wave has been happening now and is directly connected with modern civilization.

Socotra heading towards future

Since opening the airport in 1999 rich biodiversity of Socotra has been subject to various international conservation initiatives. The island as one of the poorest Yemeni regions up till then hidden from the eyes of the world, immediately started its way towards development and modernization. Investors, road construction companies, developers and tourists found their way to Socotra changing its pristine nature.

However, conservation and sustainability have been imposed as the ultimate law in any development activities and Socotra has begun its way towards eco-tourism. Thanks to united efforts of international researchers, development projects and local authorities, Socotri biodiversity got the top level recognition by being listed as the World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2008.

Socotra throughout the year

The Socotra archipelago consists of Socotra as the main island, Abd Al-Kuri with about 450 inhabitants living in difficult conditions without clean drinking water and Samha reachable in 4 hours by a fisherman’s boat with about one hundred people. The island called Darsa is not inhabited.

From geographical point of view, the eastern part of the island is the one more attractive. Hagghier mountains are dramatically rising above the capital of Hadibo, granite massive dotted with caves stretch towards the eastern tip, curvy sand dunes decorate the southern part. The western area is generally arid and much more deserted.

Climate of Socotra is determined by summer monsoon that appears between June and September. Extremely strong, hot and dry winds affect the island and ships cannot land due to high waves. The place is accessible only by plane, many inhabitants leave for the mainland, Gulf countries or at least to the central mountains for this period.

After the windy season, the rainy season comes. October till January are months of freshness and occasional showers. In March, a transition period starts towards the hottest part of the year when temperatures get over 40 °C. However, the sea is very calm and visibility excellent. The relief comes with a new monsoon season bringing rain and wind again. 

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