Two Mysterious Places to Visit: Lake Hillier & Socotra

February 28, 2013 5:07 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Alien Island — the Isle Socotra, the Republic of Yemen

Qlinsia, West of Socotra Island.

Qlinsia, West of Socotra Island.

Ready for an intergalactic trip to the Alien Island? Socotra is one of the alien islands where you won’t need a spaceship to reach; in fact it is one and the only island of its kind. Once you will enter this remote island you will feel that you have landed on some other planet.

So where is it? The Isle of Socotra is located in Yemen and is actually a small archipelago in Indian Ocean, consisting of 4 islands. Out of these islands the largest one is also named Socotra. It is situated 380 km from the south of Arabian Peninsula.  The island is 132 km in length and its width is 49.7km. The area is also surrounded by a variety of sandy beaches, limestone plateaus, caves and mountains reaching up to an altitude of 1525 meters.

The name is pronounced as soqotra and it has been derived from Sanscrit language meaning, “The Island of Bliss” and yes, the spectacular views of this island are truly blissful.

The island is believed to be isolated for about 6 to 7 million years. One third of the plant species that are found in this isolated island are not found in any other part of the world. The island boasts over 700 rare species of plant. People claim that it is “the most alien looking place” existing on the face of the earth and that’s how its name has been derived i.e. “Alien Island”.

The island is a home to one of the rarest plant species named, “Dragon’s Blood Tree”. There is a myth associated with this tree by some traders in the past who claim that the red colored sap of the tree is actually dragon’s blood and has medicinal properties.

Hawk cave in Hala, East of Socotra island. It is about 15 meters in diameter, 8 meter height, 500 to 1000 meter horizontally deep.

Hawk cave in Hala, East of Socotra island. It is about 15 meters in diameter, 8 meter height, 500 to 1000 meter horizontally deep

In July 2008, the island was recognized as the Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Another amazing fact is that though the climate of the island is extremely hot yet so many plants are found there.

Beside the unique vegetation found in that area there are some caves that are worth exploring, these caves are the result of monsoon rains that have cut through the limestone plateaus to form a chain of huge caves.

Socotra Island

unique vegetation found in Socotra Island

As Yemen is an Islamic country there are some restrictions placed on the foreign travelers. However the Yemeni authorities are now realizing the place’s potential to attract tourists and have started working on its developments. Here is what one of the tourism officials has to say, “Socotra is the safest island in Yemen. We have never had any security issues there. People think Yemen is dangerous, but hearing the news is not the same as seeing for yourself.”
If you have finally made up your mind to visit the place then 2 to 3 flights by Yemen Airways are available on weekly basis from Sana’a or Aden.

Lake Hillier, Australia

Lake Hillier pink lake in Australia

Lake Hillier, Cape Arid, Western Coast Australia

Another mysterious work of nature, Lake Hillier is situated in Cape Arid near the southern coast of Western Australia. Cape Arid is famous for its complex of islands that are almost 100 in number, all of these Islands combine together to form Recherche archipelago. This lake is located on one of these islands named Middle Island.

In 1802, a British explorer named Captain Mathew Flinders discovered the lake for the first time. The glittery pink colored lake was observed by him when he ascended one of the island’s highest peaks (named after him as Flinders’ peak), during his journey to Sydney. The ship’s master named, John Thistle was amazed to see the pink colored lake and collected some water that he later found out to be saline in nature.

Surrounding the lake are the lush green forests of eucalyptus trees and a narrow strip of sand dunes that divide it from the blue colored water of the Indian Ocean. It seems like a giant footprint marked in pink color, on a green carpet. This salty lake is 600m in diameter and is not very deep.

What’s fascinating about this lake is its never changing rosy pink color. Even if you draw it in some container the color will stay the same. Since 1950 scientists are making researches to draw a conclusion regarding its pink color. So far many assumptions have been made. Some researchers claim that it is because of the low level of nutrients whereas others say that the pink color is because of the algae and bacteria present in the water. There also some researchers who believe that the salt present in the lake’s water contains within its crust, red colored halophilic bacteria that gives a pink hue to the water.

In early 20th century a salt mining project started on this lake which was abandoned within 6 years. Now you must be thinking whether you can swim in this lake or not. The lake is shallow and you may take a swim in it, but as the lake is located in a remote area it is not advisable for swimming. This bubble gum colored lake is easily visible from the aircrafts that pass by Recherche Archipelago.

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This post was written by Editorial Staff

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