Yemen has been on the list in my head for the last 20 years, but is off the cards due to ‘political instability’. In other words: airstrikes, collapse of government services and withdrawal of consular support for Australians. But since this is a virtual trip, we’ve decided to hedge our bets and head instead to Socotra, an island 340km off the Yemeni coast in the Indian Ocean.
The island is like something out of a Dr Seuss book with its dragon’s blood, cucumber/desert rose trees, not to mention the giant snakes who are supposed to guard the entrance to the limestone caves. Socotra is home to around 800 species of flora and fauna; around a third aren’t found anywhere else on earth. In fact, it’s one the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots, combining elements of Africa, Asia, and Europe in ways that scientists still haven’t worked out.
It should be an interesting day, involving a whole lot of swimming and clambering over rocks. Neehah, a local fisherman, has also offered to take us out on his boat this afternoon.