The Yemeni Island of Socotra is home to wildlife and plant life never found anywhere else in the world. The island is part of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean and a beloved symbol of the Arabian Sea. With the region rife with war at the moment, experts are beginning to wonder how much longer its unique topography will last.
That means there’s no time like the present to pay it a visit, before it’s potentially gone forever. Socotra has many names, from the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean to the Jewel of Arabia. The island is home to more than 700 endemic species, and boasts some of the most alien-like landscapes on Earth. Though it subsists on a tourism economy, the land mass is home to roughly 60,000 who are vastly isolated from the rest of the world.
The views of Socotra give an impression of paradise, and it is cited in several ancient texts as the original location of the Garden of Eden. The island’s legendary blood trees, pink desert roses and the towering teeth of the Hajhir Mountains have drawn famous explorers from throughout history to its shores to discover its wonders.
Travelers are often in awe of Socotra’s virgin beaches, stunning caves and abundance of shipwrecks just off the shore. With almost no roads on the island, visitors must hike to see much of what it has to offer. It’s truly one of the last greatest outdoor destinations left on Earth.
A series of cyclones tore through the island in 2015, leaving much of the civilization here in disarray. Now, the UAE has stepped in to revitalize the island, but locals fear they’re turning it into a military and hospitality complex, which could spoil Socotra’s untouched feel.
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For travelers looking for a dessert escape this holiday season, Oasis at Death Valley awaits. Ancient waters bubble up from the ground to support an entire ecosystem at Oasis at Death Valley, a secluded resort tucked into the dramatic desert setting off Death Valley National Park.