Nestled within the blue waters of the Indian Ocean is Socotra, a small island that’s an offshore territory of Yemen. Located 220 miles from the mainland, the isolated environment is home to many unique flora and fauna—in fact, 30% of its plant life doesn’t grow anywhere else. This has appropriately earned it the nickname “the most alien-looking place on Earth.”
Socotra is a UNESCO-certified World Natural Heritage Site and boasts three geographical terrains: coastal plains; a limestone plateau with caves; and the Haghier Mountains. At only 83 miles long and 28 miles north to south, that’s a lot of variety in a relatively small place. Rainfall is limited, which accounts for unique plant species such as the dragon’s blood tree with its red sap and umbrella-shaped top, in addition to giant succulent and cucumber trees.
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Like its rich flora, Socotra is also home to endemic fauna. Several species of birds can only be found on the island, and over 90% of the reptiles are specific just to this land—including legless lizards. Bats are the only mammals native to Socotra, although non-native feral cats have found their way to the wonderfully strange locale.
While you can visit Socotra, it’s definitely a trip for those who don’t mind roughing it. Infrastructures are limited with minimal public transportation—they instead offer an eco-friendly bicycling alternative as well as motorbike tours that let you ride across this intriguing land.crss