drb
logo
airplanes | animals | architecture | art | auto | boats | famous | cool ads | funny pics | food | futurism | gadgets | history | japan
military | music | nature | photo | russia | sci-fi | signs | space | sports | steampunk | technology | trains | travel | vintage | weird


The Most Alien-Looking Place on Earth


"QUANTUM SHOT" #470
Link - article by Avi Abrams




Socotra Island: you have to see it to believe it

We covered some otherwordly places before (see, for example, The Bolivian Salt Lake, or The Richat Structure), but this island simply blows away any notion about what is considered "normal" for a landscape on Earth.


(images credit: Jan Vandorpe, socotra)

Imagine waking up on the Socotra Island and taking a good look around you (let's say your buddies pulled a prank on you and delivered you there, and lets also assume that you don't have any hangover from abuse of any substances). After a yelp of disbelief, you'd be inclined to think you were transported to another planet - or traveled to another era of Earth's history.

The second would be closer to the truth for this island, which is part of a group of 4 islands, has been geographically isolated from mainland Africa for the last 6 or 7 million years. Like the Galapagos Islands, this island is teeming with 700 extremely rare species of flora and fauna, a full 1/3 of which are endemic, i.e. found nowhere else on Earth.


(images credit: dianadrz, Irina Travina)


(image credit: socotra)

The climate is harsh, hot and dry, and yet - the most amazing plant life thrives there. Situated in the Indian Ocean 250 km from Somalia and 340 km from Yemen, the wide sandy beaches rise to limestone plateaus full of caves (some 7 kilometers in length) and mountains up to 1525 meters high.


(image credit: Marco Pavan)

The name Socotra is derived from a Sanscrit name, meaning "The Island of Bliss"... Is it the beaches? The isolation and quiet? or the strange and crazy botanical allure?


Alien-looking plants: H. P. Lovecraft's secret inspiration?

Was the famous Chtulhu myths creator aware of these forbidding mountains with their hauntingly weird flora (think of plant mutations from his "The Color out of Space") ? We almost tempted to call Socotra the other "Mountains of Madness" - the trees and plants of this island were preserved thru the long geological isolation, some varieties being 20 million years old...

We begin with the dracena cinnibaris or Dragon's Blood Tree, the source of valuable resin for varnishes, dyes, and "cure-all" medicine; also (predictably) used in medieval ritual magic and alchemy -


(image credit: Christian Besnier)

The branches spread out into the sky and from below appear to hover over the landscape like so many flying saucers... and from above they have a distinct mushroom look:


(image credit: Jan Vandorpe)


(image credit: dianadrz)

There is also the Desert Rose (adenium obesium) which looks like nothing so much as a blooming elephant leg:


(images credit: Jan Vandorpe)


(image credit: Denis Romanov)

Dorstenia gigas - apparently does not require any soil and sinks roots straight into the bare rock:




(images credit: Jan Vandorpe)

It also has a distinct personality and likes to smile for the camera:


(image credit: Tomas van Houtryve)

Somewhat similar to the weird Dorstenia gigas, is this "bucha" vegetable, found as far north as Croatia. I hope it's not pregnant with anything malignant inside this sack. John Wyndham (with his "The Day of the Triffids") would've loved it:


(image credit: Damir)

Also found in Socotra's landscape is the ever-strange and extremely rare Cucumber Tree (dendrosicyos socotranum) - and yes, it's related to what's sitting in a pickle jar in your fridge:


(image credit: Jan Vandorpe)


Getting around can be a challenge, as there are almost no roads

Despite the fact that this island has around 40,000 inhabitants, the Yemeni govenment put in the first roads just 2 years ago - after negotiations with UNESCO, which has declared this island a World Natural Heritage Site. I would prefer a camel ride to what is bound to be a bumpy and slow 4x4 ride... It is a quiet and peaceful enclave in an otherwise troubled world. If you decide to visit there, you can forget about beachfront hotels and restaurants; this island is geared towards eco-tourism and sustaining the local economy and way of life.


(images credit: Adele Obice, Marco Pavan, Denis Romanov)



This island is a birder's paradise as well, with 140 different species of birds; 10 of which are not found anywhere else in the world. A unique Socotra warbler, sunbird, starling, bunting, sparrow and cisticola are among the ones found here. There are also Socotra Cormorants:


(images credit: Magellan Tours, Rafeek Manchayil)

Want to see some fairy-tale (and possibly haunted) shipwrecks? There are diving tours available... Hopefully some IMAX crew would film it in all its glory one day.


(image credit: socotra)

To give you a glimpse of Socotra's and Yemen's in general totally unique architecture, check out this place located on the mainland:

Al Hajarah, Yemen - Walled city in the mist

Computer game designers take note - this mysterious city in the foggy Yemen's Haraz Mountains can surely fire up imagination of anybody who decides to explore it:


(image credit: Jan Vandorpe)

(image credit: Bellosta)

(image credit: Michaela Diener)

Dune? Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique? Pack your bags, for this is on our good old planet Earth, no interstellar visa required.


(image credit: Socotra)

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.


ALSO READ: THE MOST REMOTE PLACE ON EARTH! ->

CONTINUE TO OTHER DRB TRAVEL ARTICLES! ->





RECENT ARTICLES:

DRB Pic-of-the-Day
Pic-of-the-Day: Feather Sea Star

"Flowers of the Coral Seas"


Rare Microcars:
The Small, The Tiny, And the Utterly Absurd


A Smorgasbord of Weird Minicars

DRB Feel-Good
DRB Feel-Good Issue #20

Loads of cool and rare imagery


Futuristic "Sofil" 1953 Vehicle

Marvelous bus designed by Felix Aublet



"Dark Roasted Blend" - All Kinds of Weird and Wonderful Things, Discovered Daily!"

DRB is a top-ranked and respected source for the best in art, travel and fascinating technology, with a highly visual presentation. Our in-depth articles in many categories make DRB a highly visual online magazine, bringing you quality entertainment every time you open your "feed" reader or visit our site - About DRB

Connect with us and become part of DRB on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus; make sure to subscribe to our updates.

Our mobile site: http://mobile.darkroastedblend.com. You can also read us on iPad, as part of the Flipboard popular free app.



YOUR COMMENTS::

74 Comments:

Blogger Xander Qruze said...

Im seriously gonna put Socrota island as one of my destinations next year for my travels...I'm completely stunned by that tree...never thought anything like that existed..:)

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dragon's blood tree is the source of cinnabar?
What have you been smoking?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnabar

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazingly, like that weird tree branching up there is a tree in the Dominican and I image other Caribbean countries that have many many roots like that. However they can only grow in salt water but it's insane to see also. Great post.

___  
Blogger Avi Abrams said...

post corrected... but we're not alone in this:

"Dracaena resin, "true" dragon's blood, and the poisonous mineral cinnabar (mercury sulfide) were often confused by the ancient Romans, as there appears to be a tendency to call all things that are bright red "dragon's blood". In ancient China, little or no distinction was made between the dragon's blood from the different species." (info)

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that mushroom like tree is scary >_<

___  
Anonymous Fritz Ruehr said...

Dude: Zothique, definitely.

Now we know where they can shoot for the movie. :)

___  
Blogger Davin Hattaway said...

Reminds me of Cape Verde, a but, actually. A lot of similar flora, fauna, and landscape, until you mentioned Yemen.

___  
Blogger Michael said...

I think goblin valley should be on there. Has anyone seen Galaxy Quest when they go to another planet and they fight a rock monster? That's goblin valley, utah.

___  
Anonymous amoeba said...

beryllium spheres!

___  
Blogger angieandphil said...

Great site .I'll take two trees for my rockery please

___  
Anonymous Roberto said...

Amazing indeed... I had a similar 'alien' experience in Madagascar (Isalo National Park, if I remember correctly). The rock formations, strange plants and pachypodia, bathing in a weird low light... stunning.

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the visitors of Soqotra are inspired by its not-here alien-looking nature. It's right, but the Soqotran people and their oldest folklore are not less wonderful. And their Soqotri language is simply great!

Vladimir

___  
Blogger MooPig_Wisdom said...

Very nice. All new to me. Thanks.

___  
Anonymous Rowan said...

Ok, that seals the deal. I have been wanting to go to Yemen and around that area, and this Island just tops it off. I am off, hope to see you there Xander Qruze!

___  
Blogger mmm said...

please include this one (from Thailand)
http://share.psu.ac.th/file/nathamon.p/DSC05996.JPG

___  
Blogger Gargamello said...

Very cool look into this stragne otherworldly place. Loved the medieval city in the rocks especially.

___  
Anonymous pampuka said...

omg 0___0 amazing. earth is so unbelieviable...

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another bizarre and unique place on earth is Mount Roraima. It's located in South America on the borders of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil. Several facts make this place unique. It's one of many "plateau" mountains that are absolutely flat-topped, yet remarkably high. As a result, a lot of the vegetation there has evolved separately from others in the world. As such, they are unique and striking, much like Socotra Island. Look up Mount Roraima in Google and Google Earth for locations and neat photos. Angel Falls (the world's highest waterfall) is located on another nearby "plateau" island. It's navigable on a week-long hike! (ugh, I'm not quite up to that just yet!)

___  
Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Anonymous - we did write about Angel Falls and the plateau mountain "lost world" here:
Link

But its environment is so strange that perhaps warrants another post... Don't get lost in there!

___  
Blogger 3 Colours Silver said...

Isn't it just amazing!? Extremely hot and dry climate, what do you need? Shade! And what does the earth produce? Giant, umbrellas!!!!!:) Very cool blog.

___  
Anonymous Will said...

Hey Avi, you have spelt Bolivian wrong at the beginning, lol Bolvian

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Жгете не по-детцки

___  
Blogger Andrew said...

Wow, the nature sure is amazing there!

___  
OpenID aalasanthosh said...

This is a fantastic place. If ever I get a chance to visit the place, I might as well settle here forever.

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do want! to visit that place

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm sad this is online for everyone to see but i'm glad i'm around to at least see it in pictures. i don't believe anyone should be allowed to go there though. wouldn't want every idiot going there and ruining it.

___  
Blogger spiritsentient said...

those photos are very, very cool, and i am pleased (as punch) that they're on the web for people to see.

bravo. :)

___  
Anonymous amar said...

hey there, my family come from yemen and my grandfarther and grandmother were living over in socrotra for around 4 to 5 years and i visted them a few times and all i can say that i was thinking of never getting back on that plane again!!! as u see in picture 12 that place is not that far from where they had opened a small b&b.well, on that sand mountain me and my brothers and sisters took some sacks and we were sack-boarding down the white sand mountain, were hoping to vist the island again soon and we will take a snowboard and do the same thing!!

i would recommend a trip to the island (not for children aged 10 and under)

___  
Blogger Wingles.angel4 said...

Even though i come up with lame comments, i had to comment!!! THIS IS WICKED SICK, what planet did you take these pictures from! Crazy shite.

___  
Blogger Mavis said...

absolutely amazing and beautiful! a must see place in this lifetime.

___  
Anonymous Kittesse said...

Необыкновенно красиво!

___  
Blogger Matt said...

What an incredible looking environment!

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone remember the artist roger dean who designed some record covers for the uk band yes in the 1970s, some of these photos wouldnt be out of place in his surrealist landscapes, maybe he had knew about this island and used it as an inspiration

nadir

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't go there, unless you're a scientist. Please don't ruin the place for your vulgar, selfish curiosity.

___  
Blogger Fernando said...

Check out Rio Tinto in southern Spain. Can't get weirder than that.

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in a neighboring country and have been meaning to go to Socotra for a while but things in Yemen just keep getting crazy...Stop bombing embassies already...

___  
Blogger MooPig_Wisdom said...

You see Timmy: "It [this tree] also has a distinct personality and likes to smile for the camera:..."

"You mean all things have personality, Mom?"

"That's right, Timmy, not just Lassie or you, but everything on this blue marble."

"Mom, Are you a tree hugger?"

"Yes, Timmy, guilty as charged."

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the plants are creepy ><

___  
Anonymous Lucas said...

Brilliant post!

That is the most unreal scenery I've ever seen. I want to head over to Yemen now.

___  
Blogger trivee said...

In the last picture, whats that 'box' shaped item? Is that trash? say it isn't so!
At least some one could see that in the view finder of the camera and remove it?!

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This place is the best! I love the trees and bushes. Perfect place to vacation for the freak in us all. I so want to go there and take pictures in my predetor costume.
http://www.costumekingdom.com/p-10955-costume-masks-deluxe-predalien.aspx

___  
Blogger C said...

There is so much to see - wish I could travel more. Thanks for the great pictures!

___  
Blogger Axendra said...

nature sure is amazing

___  
Blogger Ghems said...

WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW...............
it's that Earth?
It's really awesome to visit....
don't forget sunblock!!!!!!!!!!

___  
Blogger Cassie said...

Neat! The Desert Rose looks a lot like a baobab tree.

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. speechless.

___  
Blogger Calvin said...

my friend from Yemen says that he goes camping there often, as many others do. Its the local's favorite tourist destination apparently.

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like Khamis Mushayt in the Asir province near the Yemen border

___  
Blogger Nicole said...

The first thing I thought of was the baobab trees from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince.

___  
Anonymous Kitty said...

Oh my goodness!! AMAZING! I would LOVE to go there! I love the blooming elephant leg :) haha.... I am such a sucker for fantastic flora and fauna, especially odd species I've never before seen. The blooming elephant leg reminds me a bit of a smaller baobab tree...? Possibly a very distant relative? The Earth is such an amazing place!

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybee. . . Thats where the Pirates are hiding out. Doesn't sound very far away.

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been there twice, taking almost 2000 photos total (actual, not digital) and these are *super amazing* and convey the marvel of the Isle of Bliss. Thank you!

There is a bit of formality to go there but not a big deal. Flights now daily I believe. Don't let MSM scare you off. Yemen is a wonderful place (parts still unaccessible, though). Mainland food is great, people are friendly and the scenery is mind-blowing.

Question is, will the Socotrans be able to preserve the fantastic environment they have ably stewarded for perhaps 2000 years? "People pressure" is everywhere, even on Socotra.

___  
Blogger thestickman said...

Amazing weird-looking trees! Fabulous article.

___  
Blogger winston jamz said...

Absolutely great photos of a place I keep hearing about. I have a small one of the Dracaeno trees. No plans to visit though.

___  
Anonymous Terry said...

What a cool place to visit, how can I get there from Cape Town & what would it cost?

___  
Blogger jason said...

Anyone know if there is surf there. The water looks amazing and some wave would make it out of this world

___  
Anonymous Kamal Saba said...

Both my parents are from Yemen. I've lived there for about 5 years. However, I stayed within the country, but always wanted to visit Socotra. But soon next summer, my father has already made plans and we'll be visiting this strange island and i can't wait! Yemen is a beautiful country with such a rich culture. I was born and raised most of my life in America, when i went to Yemen to learn about my religion and culture, i realized how much of the world is absent in peoples lives. I hope everyone gets a chance to visit these great places. I just hope they preserve them. And i hope no one tries to ruin this beautiful island.

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahmed
This is wonderful archipelago in the world and the last one when we need to enjoys with your family you most to see the Island
qamhem@yahoo.com

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went past if a few times on the shipping route from the Red Sea in my deep sea Merchant Marine days, remember the fierce currents that run round it. Never thought to wonder what the interior was like. Strange after a gap of decades to suddenly get a glimpse of the wondrous, secret landscape. Too young and too busy in those days to know or care, i suppose, but age does bring some benefits...

___  
Anonymous lolostefanis said...

Oh, i think i should visit Yemen one day :)

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It Looks Just Like A Dr. Suess Story! It's Weird, And Impossible, But At The Same Time, Amazing!

___  
Anonymous Hmmm(: said...

OMFG.! WOW these places l00k awes0me..i wud love to go there..! ima plan this trip with my borfirend(: l0l l0ve These palces s0 c00l(:
:]

___  
Anonymous Denis Romanov said...

More new photos about Socotra you can see at

http://www.socotra.info/index.php?id=2

Also you can find a lot of info about island.

___  
Anonymous willythirsty said...

Nature still remains the king, and forever will continue to do so. I personally hope that the environmental conditions of the island remained unchanged with the Yemeni government's tourism policy which increasingly progressive lately.
@Denis, thank you for sharing.

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

radical to the power of awesome.

___  
Blogger NikiWonoto said...

You know,..seeing these kind of amazing, "out-of-this-world" photos really move my heart, inspire me a lot, and also I have to admit, given a sort of "Energy" back into my life again.

the 'Real-world' is not a boring place, after all.. :)

I wish someday I could go there
(maybe I SHOULD! anybody wanna join me?? :))

___  
Anonymous Socotra Eco-tours said...

Socotra is an amazing island, If anyone wants to have comprehensive information on Socotra Visit www.socotra-eco-tours.com

___  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Know what's going to happen to this? They put roads in, soon they ship automobiles in, and then guess what? Poof. No more Dragon's Blood trees.

___  
Anonymous kiwivic said...

wow, I had never heard of this place before, it is so beautifully stunning, I have now added it to my "must do" list. Your photographs are great, a perfect way to introduce us to Socotra

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow simply astonishing. I'm from Yemen and I've visited the Al Hajara and those pix don't do it any justice. However, the Socrota Island looks like something unimaginable. I wanna go!! lol Now with the civil unrest and political issues I won't be going any time soon though. :-(

___  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is really a magical island, more information on socotraisland.com

___  
Blogger Don said...

Wow! Such a beautiful place!
:o)

___  
Blogger Maryam said...

Eek! I'm from the northern highlands—cities by the names of San'aa, Kawkebaan, and Shaharah.

I have never been to Yemen sadly, but after I get the chance to explore it and hop from roof to roof of the ancient architecture, I would love to trek down south, then kayak to our alienated island. Those plants are eye-popping! O_O I hope it stays alien to others.

I thanketh thee for the post. :D I shall now show this to my folks.

-Maryam-

___  
Blogger historicus said...

Two years back I made a trip from Ajman,UAE,to Salalah in Oman by 3 cars, one Benz, one Camry, and one BMW. some 1500 kms. I think. It was a real adventure and our aim was to go to Mukallah and try to get a lift to Socotra on a cargo ship. But that attempt did not materialise. Now I have booked a ticket via Rian Mukkallah and Abdujameel. I hope this time I would succeed in take in all the sights and sounds and sea and mountains of Socotra which they say is the Island of Bliss or Diva Sukhdhara or the Island of Tranquillity. I am reading up all the books I purchased from McGrudy's and from the xerox section of the Sharjah Public library (which unfortunately closed down when I went to look at some of the books on Socotra i hadn't completed. I will tell you more about Socotra, probably much much more than you care for, and with illustrations to match when I come back.Also I want to do a little bit of historical research on the Muziris and Bernicke connection of Socotra, and even about the religious evolution perhaps. Pl. pray for the success of my much dreampt about trip. -G. Menachery

___  

Post a Comment

<< Home


SF ART & BOOK REVIEWS:
Don't miss: The Ultimate Guide to NEW SF&F Writers!
Fiction Reviews: Classic Cyberpunk: Extreme Fiction
Short Fiction Reviews: Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" (with pics)
New Fiction Reviews: The Surreal Office



READ OTHER RECENT ARTICLES:



More Lovely Micro Cars

Small is Timeless!


DRB Pic-of-the-Day: Thunder Robot Army

Plus a bunch of Freddie-Ford auto robots


Adorable Bubble-Cars

Great Things Come in Small Packages


These Glorious Three-Wheeled Microcars

Jellybean Three-Wheelers! (Who Needs an Extra Wheel?)


Japan Robot Restaurant: Totally Over-the-Top!

Probably the craziest restaurant in the entire world


Nightmare Playgrounds, Part 2
Nightmare Playgrounds, Part 1

Seriously disturbing sculptures, meant for kids


Nightmare Playgrounds, Part 3

When trapped in a nightmare, enjoy a kiddie-slide!


Cars with Propellers, Part 2

Futuristic "Pillbug", built in 1936 in Germany


DRB Pic-of-the-Day: Shire on Earth

Found! The secret hideout of hobbits


Cars with Propellers, Part 1

Essential steampunk transportation


FULL ARCHIVES (with previews, fast loading):

July-Aug 2014 -- June 2014 --
May 2014 -- April 2014 -- Feb-March 2014 -- January 2014 -- Oct-Dec 2013 --
September 2013 -- August 2013 -- July 2013 -- May-June 2013 -- April 2013 --
March 2013 -- February 2013 -- Dec-Jan 2013 --
November 2012 -- October 2012 -- September 2012 --
August 2012 -- July 2012 -- June 2012 -- May 2012 -- April 2012 --
March 2012 -- February 2012 -- Dec-Jan 2012 --
November 2011 -- October 2011 -- September 2011 --
August 2011 -- July 2011 -- June 2011 --
May 2011 -- April 2011 -- March 2011 --
February 2011 -- January 2011 -- December 2010 --
November 2010 -- October 2010 -- September 2010 --
August 2010 - July 2010 -- June 2010 --
May 2010 -- April 2010 -- March 2010 --
Winter 2009-2010 -- Oct-Nov 2009 -- September 2009 --
August 2009 -- June-July 2009 -- May 2009 --
April 2009 -- March 2009 -- February 2009 --
January 2009 -- December 2008 -- November 2008 --
October 2008 -- September 2008 -- August 2008 --
July 2008 -- June 2008 -- May 2008 --
April 2008 -- March 2008 -- February 2008 --
January 2008 -- Dec, 2007 -- November 2007 --
October 2007 -- September 2007 -- August 2007 --
July 2007 -- June 2007 -- May 2007 --
April 2007 -- March 2007 -- February 2007 --
January 2007 -- December 2006 -- November 2006 --
October 2006 -- Link Latte Issues -- Biscotti Issues



CATEGORIES:
airplanes | animals | architecture | art | auto | boats | books | cool ads | funny pics | famous | futurism | food
gadgets | health | history | humour | japan | internet | link latte | military | music | nature | photo | russia | steampunk
sci-fi & fantasy | signs | space | sports | technology | trains | travel | vintage | weird




















Airplanes
Animals
Architecture
Art
Auto
Boats
Computers
Cool Ads
Extreme Weather
Food
Funny Pics
Futurism
Gadgets
History
Humour
Link Latte
Military
Music
Nature
Oops Accidents
Photography
Robots
Science
Science Fiction

Space
Sports
Technology
Trains
Travel
UE Abandoned
Vintage
Weird













Avi Abrams
Rachel Abrams
M. Christian
Simon Rose
Paul Schilperoord
Scott Seegert
Constantine vonHoffman


Send us your topic ideas, site suggestions, rants or sweet unpublished poetry. We love to hear from you.

Samsung Galaxy Case friendly.