• Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra
  • Socotra

Socotra

Socotra, the most alien island on earth

This land from outer space is actually situated in the Arabian sea, south of Yemen, east of Somalia.

Complete isolation from the rest of the world has allowed an incredible nature to thrive for millenia on the martian landscapes of Socotra. There, bizarre bottle-shaped trees grow directly over rocks. Those fat dudes (Adenium obesium) seem to have only one purpose: blooming delicate pink roses. Another glorious Socotri endemic specimen is the frankincense tree (Boswellia socotrana). Highly sought for its aromatic resin, the frankincense was a source of huge wealth for South Arabian kingdoms since Ancient history. The tree grows everywhere on the island, sometimes in the oddest of places, like proud stunts glorifying its resilience. But the true ruler of the island, found nowhere else in the world, is the dragon blood’s tree (Dracaena cinnabari). Growing like huge mushrooms on the wide and arid mountaintops of the island, it has a fascinating shape and a blood red resin, highly valued for its incredible smell.

You would naturally expect prehistoric creatures to live in this land. All you actually get is a wide variety of endemic birds and fishes, massive amounts of crabs colonizing blue and white lagoons, a few small goats looking for precious spots of shade, and seldom people, living in very modest conditions, struggling to survive in a region that leaves them with only little chance. Socotri language is a fascinating experience that completes the feeling that this is indeed a very special little place in this part of our galaxy.

Date: January 2009 Client: Oryx Magazine, Men's Journal